Skip to main content
Close Menu Open Menu

Amy Brookes: The skills and qualities needed to be an effective leader

Amy Brookes MRTPI  is a Senior Planner at the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities

On 1 August 2023, I travelled to Dudley Council as part of the RTPI’s Chief Planner of Tomorrow Initiative. Despite a cancelled train, it was a great experience that I would recommend to any young planner who wants to learn more about a career in planning and the broad range of exciting opportunities available in the profession.

Prior to my trip to Dudley, I had an online introductory chat where we were able to discuss a tailored programme for the day. On the day, I started by meeting Helen, the Director of Regeneration and Enterprise, and Carl, the Head of Planning. They provided me with an insight into the day-to-day responsibilities of a senior leader in a local authority and their own career progression. We discussed the skills and qualities needed to be an effective leader and their approach to managing strategic challenges and opportunities in a metropolitan council. As a young planner, I was particularly interested in understanding the transferability of planning skills and experience for leadership roles.

Next, I met and shadowed the local plan and development management teams. It was very interesting to learn about their roles, careers and projects. As a town planner working in central government, I found this experience invaluable in understanding the implementation of national policy at a local spatial scale. This was complemented by a walking tour of Dudley town centre. I visited some development sites and we discussed how these sites were contributing to the council’s vision for the future of Dudley. I learnt about the history of the town centre and enjoyed discussing the variety of opportunities and challenges to place-making and redevelopment. It was also fascinating to consider the regional influence on the regeneration of the town centre, for example seeing the construction of the tram extension which will improve connections between Dudley and the rest of the West Midlands.

I met Helen and Carl again at the end of the day, and I shared feedback about my day in Dudley. We finished by discussing the different roles and opportunities that are beneficial to progress a career in planning. I found their reflections very helpful when thinking about my own career aspirations. The day provided a fantastic mix of sessions that taught me more about being a leader and town planner. I would like to personally thank Joanne Todd at Dudley Council for organising my trip and to everyone at Dudley, particularly Carl and Helen, who took the time to chat and share their reflections with me. 

The Chief Planner of Tomorrow 2023 programme has incorporated a day of shadowing with my partnered organisation as well as four RTPI workshop sessions. The first session took place in-person in July. Victoria Hills and Sue Bridge both spoke about the RTPI, the opportunities and challenges for young planners and reflected on their careers. The event also allowed for networking with other young planners who had travelled to London from across the UK. The remaining three sessions will take place online and cover leadership and career progression.


Applications for Chief Planners of Tomorrow will reopen in 2024. You can find out more about the initiative here


Back to top