Abraham Laker BA (Hons) MA FRTPI FRSA is an Associate Partner at Rapleys LLP and one of the co-founders of the BAME Planners Network. Here Abraham reflects on his journey through the application process to become an RTPI Fellow to inspire more planning professionals from all backgrounds to achieve this designation.
Being part of the RTPI has always been a professional goal for me, ever since undertaking my undergraduate course in Town Planning at the University of Manchester. I became a Chartered Member in December 2014 and have been an active member of the institute through being elected to the General Assembly, joining the Education and Lifelong Learning Committee and being an RTPI Future Planners Initiative Ambassador.
What motivated you to apply for Fellow membership?
It is the highest professional membership grade offered by the RTPI. I also wanted to highlight my ongoing contribution to the profession outside of my normal work duties and to inspire other planners from BAME backgrounds, that fellowship was a route they could also pursue.
How did you find the application process/How did you work on your application?
Fellowship applications are accepted four times a year and so I selected a date which was achievable for me both professionally and personally. This is important as we all have work and life responsibilities which can sometime take time away from pursuing other goals such as completing the fellowship submission.
The application process was very straightforward. I would recommend reviewing the criteria in its entirety to ensure that you have solid examples to demonstrate your competence and contributions.
I also recommend carefully selecting your Chartered Nominees as their nomination statements are imperative to the submission. They provide a character reference of your competence and abilities, and I was fortunate to have a wealth of Chartered planning professionals to choose from who I have worked with throughout my professional planning career either as work colleagues or as volunteers for the RTPI.
I gave myself enough time to draft my Fellowship statement and collate the other supporting documents. I had the opportunity to have my draft submission reviewed by my peers at work and also colleagues within the BAME Planners Network. I would highly recommend this approach as peer review acts as a quality check to ensure that your submission is of a high standard and their feedback helps you review your submission from a different perspective.
How did you feel being elected as a Fellow?
Becoming a Chartered Fellow has meant the world to me and completed my long-term goal which I had back when I undertook my undergraduate Town Planning course. Becoming a Fellow at 36 years old and being from a BAME background, I hope I can be a role model to younger people entering the profession as well as young planners. For me Fellowship is not just for the status you have amongst your peers within the institute but can be used as a platform to enact positive change. I will continue to use my Chartered Fellowship to champion diversity and inclusivity within the institute and the wider sector. I will strongly encourage younger Chartered planners who are active in advancing the Town Planning profession to apply for Fellowship. This will ensure that the profession is always at the forefront of questioning and balancing change within the built and natural environment.