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A day in the life of...

Jenny Massingham

Jenny has had a successful career in planning for over 13 years following completion of both an undergraduate and postgraduate in Town and Country Planning. She started her career in the London and Cambridge offices of Barton Willmore and is currently Technical Director of Planning at Temple Group in London Bridge. She is a chartered member of the Royal Town Planning Institute and an Associate member of the Institute of Civil Engineers. Outside of work, Jenny is a single mum to her three year old daughter, enjoys running and combines her love of historic London architecture and photography on Instagram as @libraryoflondonarchitecture. Like many other professionals Jenny is currently working from home, balancing projects and childcare, as we face the Covid-19 pandemic.

What does your typical working day look like? My day starts…

At the moment, my daughter normally makes a dramatic entrance into my bedroom anywhere between 11pm and 2am, and will wake me up for the day to start from 6.30am onwards. We sit and have breakfast together, I catch up on the news, and switch my work laptop on at around 8am whilst Disney+ takes over childcare duties. I check my diary for con calls or deadlines, and any emails that came in overnight and ensure that I am prepared for the day ahead. I have a cup of coffee and call in to my line manager to let him know I am well and working. During work ...

Normally I work 4 days a week and would drop my daughter at nursery at around 7:45am before heading down to the tube. My current commute is from the sofa to the dining table, and I have gone down to 3 working days a week which I spread over 5 days to help me balance childcare. I prioritise any project work, people management or admin that require input from colleagues, clients or consultants between the hours of 8am-6pm to ensure projects can progress efficiently. I have made sure that the people I am working with know I have decreased my working hours and will need to prioritise my childcare over work i.e. I may need to call them back if there is an issue or that my small chirpy office assistant may be on the call with me. After work ...

Work doesn’t really stop at the moment. I take any chance I get to check my emails, write a strategy or to do list when for example my daughter is having a nap, happily entertaining herself or watching Frozen 2 for the 347th time. Throughout the day we try to have as much routine as possible with meal times, a daily walk into the forest and some quality time together learning phonics or numbers. My laptop goes off at 5pm so I can cook dinner, and carry out our bedtime routine before my daughter eventually goes to sleep between 7-8pm. On an evening ...

I will use time in the evenings (and weekends) to pick up everything else, for example, where I am authoring a report, undertaking research or reviewing a piece of work. I catch up on emails, over a glass of wine, and maintain my own sanity by talking to my incredibly supportive community of mum friends. Balancing childcare, work and being in isolation has been challenging at times but makes me incredibly grateful for everything we have and the amazing work of our NHS.

How do you unwind on an evening or weekend? In the evenings and weekends I am partial to a bit of Eastenders as my brain is already jelly by this point and am currently watching The Ozarks on Netflix. I also enjoy reading architecture or mindfulness books, practising pilates or finishing some of the DIY jobs I started on the house earlier this year.  What is your favourite/most rewarding project you have worked on? I recently worked on creating a bespoke, digital community engagement platform (https://areal.templegroup.co.uk/HCEB/home/) on behalf of our client, the Heathrow Community Engagement Board (HCEB). HCEB represent the communities affected by Heathrow airport, their day to day operations and any future expansion plans. I grew up just a mile from Heathrow and when Terminal 5 was approved in 2001 my parents moved 130 miles away because the impacts of further noise, pollution, traffic and intense development on their quality of life and neighbourhood was so unclear and out of their control. The platform seeks to engage with people from all sectors of this diverse community to develop a vision for their future alongside the airport, and I am passionate about being their voice. What are the best and worst bits about your job? I love leading teams to a successful conclusion on a project. I particularly enjoy getting multi-disciplined project teams round the table and thrashing out all the risks, opportunities and next steps. It can be quite stressful but so satisfying when you start seeing all the pieces gradually fitting together. The worst bit is that I don’t get to go out on site as much as I used to anymore. I miss sitting round a farm table with a cup of tea and a biscuit talking to landowners. Who has had the biggest influence on your career and why? My first boss, Adrian James, who was the Partner of the Cambridge office of Barton Willmore at the time. Regardless of my background, gender or age he always supported me and helped me to develop a solid foundation in my professional career. His knowledge and experience was invaluable and I will forever be grateful for his guidance. What is the best bit of advice you have received in your career? Have confidence in your abilities and don’t sell yourself short. Ever. I had to take maternity leave from 26 weeks and after an extended period of leave, I promised myself I would hold out for the right company, job title, salary and working days that would enable me to balance motherhood and my career. I owed it to my 10 month old and to myself. My recruitment consultant put me in touch with Temple Group and I have never looked back. What is your favourite place? ​I’m a Londoner born and breed and love the City especially the architecture of The Adelphi Terrace on Strand, London’s oldest shops in St. James’s and the amazing interior of the Central Church of the RAF – the Church of St. Clement Danes’. When I’m not in the City, you can find me searching for the Gruffalo and breathing in the fresh air of Epping Forest with my wonderful little girl.

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