Strategic Land

Dinny Shaw: The making of a modern planning career

Dinny Shaw, Planning Manager at St. Modwen, discusses her journey into the planning profession, the flexibility offered by St. Modwen, and her advice to young women coming into the sector.

“It was my parents who persuaded me to go for a job in planning. Both local councillors and members of planning committees, they encouraged me to look for opportunities in the profession within the public sector. Before long, I secured a planner role in the development management team at Wandsworth Council, looking after lawful development certificates, small-scale household extensions and advertisement consents. There for 11 years, I worked my way up to being lead officer on a number of large-scale planning applications in one of the largest Opportunity Areas in London.

“It’s been inspirational to work under female leadership. Without seeing women in senior roles, it could be easy to assume that reaching those levels is unachievable. Wandsworth Council appointed a female Assistant Director of Planning whilst I was there, and I worked with female Directors in private planning consultancies.

“I had a really positive interview at St. Modwen. It was advertised as a full-time position so when I explained I would like flexible working hours for my family, I thought that would be that. But there was no question about it. The property director recognised my skills and experience, and understood my need to balance work and family life.

“St. Modwen is making huge strides to become a more diverse and inclusive place to work – understanding what needs to be done to encourage diversity into both the business and wider property industry. It offers enhanced maternity cover, giving parents job security and attracting and retaining women in more senior roles. It has also developed a Diversity and Inclusion Working Group as well as looking to implement a Women’s Career Development Programme to provide support, mentoring and professional training to women across the business.

“I feel very lucky to be in a job that I enjoy where I am a part of delivering new places and communities. I enjoy being involved in both the design and delivery of new developments and working with communities to engage them with a development.

“I’d encourage anyone that wants to work in planning to get an understanding of what it really involves. Go out and get work experience and see how it works in practice. Studying alone can be very theoretical and so hands-on work experience is important. I’d also suggest using connections to speak to people in the planning community; groups such as Women in Planning are a great place to start, as are professional associations such as the RTPI Young Planners Network.”

This article originally featured in The Planner Magazine, March 2019.