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Proud of Women 3: Inter-professional

Confidence is key – Fake it till you make it!

We were delighted when Dentons law firm agreed to sponsor and host our third event in the “Proud of Women” series: Inter-professional. The London weather did not sympathise with us as we arrived at Dentons London office just off Fleet Street, umbrella in hand. We were whisked up to the 9th floor where the sun was setting over the spectacular view of the City.

At 7pm, Charlotte Morphet (founding member of Women in Planning) took to the stage to welcome guests and speakers to the event, thanking Dentons for all their support.

The first speaker was Miranda Pennington, who is a Partner at Metropolis Green. She took us through a quick overview of the role she plays within Metropolis, a small company in ‘Tech City’ with – impressive clients. Miranda started life at the London borough of Islington’s sustainability team (which when she left, her role was separated into 5 different jobs!) and took the plunge by switching to Metropolis Green; and becoming Partner by her early 30s. The audience was inspired by her example of building her business particularly through the recent recession, focussing on building a reputation using the planning and architectural side of Metropolis. Her hard work is eventually paying off with her own client base and many projects separate to Metropolis Planning and Metropolis Architecture arm.

Miranda left us all with several of her top tips. The ones that stood out was that you must believe in yourself, don’t ever panic – take a deep breath and the answers will come to you and if it doesn’t then you can “fake it until you make it”, it’s easy to stand out and make sure you have a 5 year plan!

The next speaker, Ann-Marie Shivnen an Associate Director at Robert West said that being asked to present made her think about her early career. Also what lessons she could pass onto her younger colleagues which was inspiring.

Her first job was at Buchanan Consulting engineers which, three weeks into her graduate role, was taken over by Capita Symonds. After a while she began to get the ‘London bug’ and left Newbury for the big smoke. In 2007 she returned back to Dublin for a few years but the recession has hit the Irish Capital hard. Instead she returned to London were she was successful at gaining her position at Robert West in 2009.

Ann-Marie gave us her three top tips which we know will help members develop our own careers. The first was making sure you understand the process to be knowledgeable in your specialism. The second is to learn how to influence others and the third is to ensure you develop your network.

The third and final speaker was Michele Vas a Managing Associate of the Planning Law team from Dentons. Following completion of her training contract with a local authority, she chose to move to the ‘dark side’ and joined Dentons in their Public Law department. Over the years she has been sent on a number of “character building” days thanks to her boss, and on reflection now realises how they have helped develop her career particularly her teamwork skills.

More recently she has acted on behalf of Hammersmith and Fulham council on the Earls Court development. Michele has acted on behalf of other local authority which provided an interesting insight that she could combine her local authority experience within the private sector environment. Michele gave us some of her top lessons that she has learned over the course of her career which includes the importance of teamwork, having the confidence and initiative to stand up and have an opinion. Michele also reiterate the previous top tips to ensure that you have strong knowledge of your industry.

Michele left us with Dentons Planning Law Blog which enables members to keep abreast with the ever changing planning law system.

Following the presentations, there was plenty of time for questions to be asked over delicious canapés and a few glasses of wine.

By Mary Fortune and Charlotte Morphet

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