A Day in the Life of...

Jenna Langford

Jenna Langford is a Regeneration Manager at Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council. She is an award winning chartered town planner and project management practitioner with 12 years' experience and a proven track record of delivering regeneration projects in the challenging industrial urban area of the Black Country. She was RTPI West Midlands young planner of the year 2018 and "highly commended" young planner of the year 2015. Most recently, Jenna won the RTPI National young planner of the year 2019. Read about Jenna's typical day below.

 

What does your typical working day look like?

My day starts…

Drudgery of the Morning commute, lightened by listening to music– it is always the 1990’s in my car, nostalgia gears me up for the day.

During work ...

My new role as Regeneration Manager, has come at a time of much positive change for Sandwell. Work at the moment is very fast paced and involves meeting new people, learning new skills, adapting and rising to new challenges and reacting to opportunities.

After work ...

My intention is to go to the gym after finishing a days’ work at a reasonable hour. Wrongly this rarely happens at the moment, but it’s because there’s so much good stuff going on in Sandwell. I need to readdress the work/life balance, but what can you do when you love your job.

On an evening ...

Always cook a meal for us, and always sit at the table together. OK, sometimes it’s a Take Away – but we still sit at the table.

 

How do you unwind on an evening or weekend?

During the week I love watching a good drama or docuseries, Killing Eve is my current favourite. Weekends at the moment are spent working on the house, a bit of a fixer upper we moved into just over a year ago. It’s an Arts & Crafts age property, Tudorbethan style which we are trying to restore to its former glory with some modern touches. Walking our Basset Hound Hendrix (after Jimi), followed by a Real Ale and a Crusty Cub is then a great reward!  

What is your favourite/most rewarding project you have worked on?

The first major project I worked was a public realm scheme. The challenge was not only in planning and designing high quality public realm for town centre users, it also entailed a very complex delivery model. We devised a model whereby European Funding was matched against Section 106 contributions to turn £4m into £8m.


Ensuring all spend on the project was eligible, and trawling through procurement and financial agreements was a steep learning curve, and not one I expected as a Town Planner. It was rewarding two-fold, firstly we delivered more and better spaces for community interaction, and secondly, we maximised public funds to deliver the scheme at the time austerity measures gripped the nation and UK public funding was non-existent.

What are the best and worst bits about your job?

For me the best bits are overcoming challenges, a Graduate I once mentored likened resolving Regeneration challenges to untangling earphone wires. What a great analogy, and untangling anything is so satisfying, frustrating sometimes– but satisfying.


The worst is when no matter how hard you try to untangle those wires there are some knots which will have to remain!

Who has had the biggest influence on your career and why?

My path to becoming a Town Planner is far from conventional and amusing in parts. Throughout I have been incredibly fortunate to have worked for and with people who believed in me and supported me to do well. But, in terms of biggest influence it would have to be my former Director Nick Bubalo and former Team Leader Chris Jones.


Before becoming a Town Planner, I was a Project Manager for them working within Regeneration. Nick & Chris believed that I would be a fantastic Town Planner and even though I doubted their confidence in me “I’m not clever enough”, they encouraged and invested in me to undertake a MA in Spatial Planning. I wouldn’t be a Town Planner, have a career I am passionate about, without their belief.


What is the best bit of advice you have received in your career?

There are two…

“Planning is just common sense”

“Sometimes it’s better to act, then ask for forgiveness” 

What is your favourite place?

That’s tough -it depends what mood I’m in. I frequently say that when it’s a sunny warm day, there is nowhere in the world I would rather be than the British Countryside.


The shades of green and yellow across fields, twisted shapes of ancient trees, colours of wild flowers, sounds of birds – heaven! Perhaps that’s a reaction to being a Planner in an Urban environment.

 

©2018 by Women in Planning UK.

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