International Women’s Day 2021

This International Women’s Day presented us with a unique situation, given the current climate we aren’t able to physically be with each other, as such we couldn’t be around the women who have impacted our lives and helped shape who we are. This International Women’s Day we decided to have a virtual afternoon tea and catch-up giving us the opportunity to share experiences, advice and formative moments. We guided our discussion with 3 questions:

What is the best piece of advice you have been given?

‘There is no I in team. Cliché but none the less true. You cannot do everything yourself and why should you want to? You have wonderful talented people around you, that you should support and nurture to grow and are there to carry the burden with you. A problem shared is a problem halved. Whilst the control freak in me still struggles with this occasionally, it’s always advice I have to remind myself and reflect upon.’ Donna Lavender

‘Be assertive with the language you use, how you ask for things changes the ways people respond to you.’ Helen Armes

‘Don’t accept criticism from anyone you wouldn’t take advice from.’ Francesca Parmenter

What advice would you give to someone looking to get to where you are?

‘Make friends, work hard and go the extra mile.’ Debbie Lloyd

‘Stand your ground and give your opinion, David Lock is brilliant at portraying his views he was a great role model to have as a consultant.’ Joanne Cave

‘I went to my manager at a previous job with a concern I had; I had all of my reasons in place and was ready to justify my concerns, as soon as I told her what my concern was she told me she believed me and that I didn’t need to justify why I felt the way I did, it shook me at the time but it has carried across for me and makes me think when I am in situations now that my energy can be better placed than justifying why I feel how I do, it’s helped me and is advice I would give.’ Emily Benstead Sale

2020 and now into 2021 has been a particularly weird time, is there anything that you’ve learnt in the past year that’s changed the way you look at your role and you’ll be taking forward with you?

‘Online meetings can in some cases be much better than face-to face meetings. Some of the committees and some of the engagement exercises that we’ve run have been more successful than previous ‘real life’ ones. The virtual options we’ve had to explore in these times have given us skills that we should be taking forward’ Heather Pugh

‘As a working mum, inheriting multi-tasking has just always been something that you ‘do,’ I had always held it as a skill, but the past year has made me assess it as one of the things that can make me feel frantic and overwhelmed. I think it’s now much better to do single and focused tasks, whilst you don’t always get across as much in a day, overall performance and effectiveness is much better.’ Francesca Parmenter

‘So much happened last year from Trump’s populism to the Black Lives Matter movement, and it made me reflect on the sociology content in my planning course, it made me think that there used to be much more of an emphasis on people and how societies function and operate. It’s something from my planning course that I carried over into my Urban Design studies and has always been one of the motivators for why I do what I do. I worry that the system is becoming increasingly focused on regulation and process and these things become lost. The politics of the past year makes me think that it all needs to be dragged back into the conversation about planning, 2020 was more than coronavirus and it made me reflect on planning and my role differently.’ Joanne Cave