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01/10/2013

Interview with Nikola Miller, Planning Policy and Practice Officer 

Nikola works for the Royal Town Planning Institute Scotland

What do you currently do?
I’m the Planning Policy and Practice Officer for RTPI Scotland. Essentially my role is all about working to promote the planning profession and the institute by engaging with Scottish Government and politicians to influence planning policy at the national level in a positive and proactive way. I am also the co-editor of Scottish Planner journal and organise various CPD events to engage planners and other related professionals to share knowledge and discuss relevant planning issues.
 
“If I wasn’t in planning, I’d probably be…"
Well I like to think I’d be a rock star touring the world (I’m thinking Rod Stewart meets Lady Gaga)! But realistically? I’d be involved in the built environment or politics in some form. It’s much less rock and roll, but it’s my passion!
 
What’s been your biggest career challenge to date?
Being made redundant in 2011 and the real confidence knock that came with that. Like so many other planners, the recession has been an unsettling time with job security often low and new job opportunities few and far between. However, I think it really has been a blessing in disguise and everything I’ve done since then has given me more confidence and experience than ever, culminating with being named RTPI Young Planner of the Year last year, a huge honour and opportunity both personally and professionally.
 
What attracted you to the profession?
I wanted to use the skills that I have to really make a difference, and planning is the perfect way to do that. I really believe in the power that planning has to create great places for people, to enable the delivery of the right development in the right place and, crucially, to be a positive driving force for economic recovery.
 
What single piece of advice would you give to young planner just starting out?
I’d say don’t be afraid to be enthusiastic and passionate about what you do. In my experience so far, it’s the people that really care the most that make the most difference. And I don’t think it’s naïve to say that you really can make a difference and influence not only the profession, but your workplace, local area and the people around you.
 

If you could change one thing about the planning profession, what would it be?
I’d like to see planners being more confident. If we as a profession can’t be positive and confident in our abilities and the important role planning has, how can we expect the UK Government and other professions to have confidence in us and see the benefits of a plan-led system with people and placemaking at its core?
 
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