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Step Change: Colin Haylock

RTPI members discuss their big career-changing decisions

Colin Haylock is principal at Haylock Planning and past president of the RTPI
"In 1999 I made my biggest career decision – to move after 25 years in local government to a working life mixing academic and private sector practice. It was a huge step at 52, but I wanted a new challenge that didn’t involve leaving the North-East and was keen to build on a long-term commitment to the education of the next generation of planners.
"I had qualified in architecture and planning. I thought I would enter private practice in masterplanning after a couple of years of planning experience, but I fell in love with my work with Newcastle City Council. I finished up running a large multi-disciplinary team for the council and over the years was involved in a large number of interesting regeneration schemes including Byker, the Quayside and the award-winning Grainger Town project.
"When I made the move I wasn’t sure how I would take to teaching – or the students to me. Whilst I felt I had been entrepreneurial and innovative at the council, how would I respond to the pressures of commercial practice? Was I wise to leave a good pension scheme and a public sector working environment and ethos I knew well and was clearly so committed to? But my family was very supportive and knew I wanted to work on what I called a broader canvas.
"I had to commit to a teaching role at the university and hand my notice into the council before I had employment on the consultancy side secured, so that took a bit of courage and self-belief. I initially taught part-time in the newly merged School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape at the University of Newcastle and worked part-time for Ryder Architecture. 
"After three years I joined Ryder full-time as its urban design director. I have never looked back. Subsequently, I have been RTPI President, set up my own practice and became a member of the London Mayor’s Design Advisory Group. Many people make big career changes in their 20s and 30s. I made mine in my early 50s. I hope this article inspires others of a similar age."
Want to tell us your big step up? Contact tino.hernandez@rtpi.org.uk


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