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Interview with Cj Obi, Director, Urbanist Platform

Women in Planning: CJ, thank you for agreeing to be interviewed. Women in Planning are excited to be partnering with you and Urbanist Platform on How to Get Your CV Interview Ready.

CJ Obi: Thanks for having me!

Women in Planning: Q 1. Tell our members about you, your background and specialism.

CJ Obi: Having studied both a BSc in Urban Planning and a MSc in European Property Development and Planning at UCL, I have always been interested in the connection between cities and people but I became frustrated by how disregarded the planning sector was to many who are not in the industry! I also graduated in the immediate aftermath of the 2008 recession, so opportunities were scarce. I subsequently recruited in the Town Planning and Property sector and since then I have managed to carve quite a niche lane for myself with my relevant background.

Women in Planning: That is really interesting and great to get a planners perspective on recruitment and one with such passion for people and places.

Q 2. What is Urbanist Platform, who is it for and why does it exist?

CJ Obi: So I set up Urbanist Platform with the aim of attracting more people into the built environment. Not just from a career point of view, but also in terms of conversations. We formed in April last year and I have been lucky to find similar minded thinkers that share the same vision as me. None of us are afraid to disrupt the current norms in the industry and we want to attract and empower others that also want to drive change in their cities.

Women in Planning: I think we can all agree that we need more people attracted to careers in the Built Environment!

Q 3. How does this relate to the series of workshops you are running with us?

CJ Obi: The series of workshops will have the main aim of ensuring that professionals across all levels are well equipped and clued up when applying for roles, at any point in the future. This includes ensuring your CV best demonstrates your full potential, while bolstering your professional image as well as understanding some of the key hiring decisions employers are likely to make in these current uncertain times!

Women in Planning: These will be like an incredibly useful set of workshops with some great insight for our members!

Q 4. We noticed that the series focuses on planners at different stages in their careers. Should your CV be different depending on where you are in your career? Do strategies and techniques change as you progress in your career?

CJ Obi: Absolutely. When you are a Graduate, you will not be expected to demonstrate vast amounts of industry experience. Any that you have is a bonus. Companies will therefore look a lot closer at academic achievements and what you do in your spare time. will explain how to brand all of this in a smart way. The more senior you are, the more your employer will want to ascertain what value you could bring to their team. This can all be articulated in a number of ways - and I will reveal these key gems during the sessions!

Women in Planning: We like the idea of branding yourself in a smart way. Looking forward to learning the key takeaways over the next three weeks.

Q 5. When you are recruiting for a new role, what are the biggest pitfalls you see?

CJ Obi: The biggest pitfalls I see in recruitment actually tend to be on the employer side and the inability of some companies to breakaway from pre-set stereotypes, that they may have about which personnel are the "right fit" for their company. From a CV point of view however, it's very very important that your CV doesn't just showcase what you do on a daily basis, but also showcases your achievements too!

Women in Planning: That is really insightful. Sounds like we need more inclusive leadership and for planners to be proud of their achievements.

Q6. What is one piece of advice you would give people to make sure they stand out from the crowd when looking for a job or updating their CV?

CJ Obi: Some of the best CVs I have seen, make good use of numbers to highlight things they are proud of. Quantifying achievements using numbers can really help make you stand out. E.g. fees won from clients or the total units of a project you are most proud of. If you are a Graduate or at a junior level, you could mention the number of projects you have contributed to.

Women in Planning: Great advice.


Q. 7 Finally, how can people get involved in and support Urbanist Platform?

CJ Obi: We are an open platform and love hearing from anyone who has an interest in planning and placemaking. We encourage people to get in touch if they would like to collaborate or even write a piece for our platform, on a topic they are passionate about In the meantime, as we try to establish our name, we would be grateful for a follow on our social media accounts. As well as Twitter and Linkedin, we are on Instagram because we love to upload creative content. Our Instagram page is - @UrbanistPlatform

Women in Planning: Thank you, CJ it has been great to know more about you, Urbanist Platform & get your advice on CVs. We are looking forward to the three workshops.

The first workshop is 16 April and focuses on CV skills for graduates.

And, you heard CJ get in touch with Urbanist Platform if you have an idea for the platform and please do make sure you follow them @UrbanistPlat.

Thank you, Women in Planning

CJ Obi: Appreciate you inviting me to take part. These are crazy times, but I'm sure we can still bring some positive things to industry over the next few weeks! :-)

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