I Want Your Job: Urban Regeneration Expert

'You need passion and resilience'
Click to follow
The Independent Online

Joanne Jennings is the chief executive of Liverpool ONE, a massive city regeneration project. Liverpool has been chosen as a European Capital of Culture for 2008.

What do you actually do?

I help run the largest city centre regeneration project in Europe. It's a 42-acre open site in downtown Liverpool, which was devastated in the Blitz. Liverpool's economy slowed in the 1990s – we want to create a place where people will want to come and spend money. I am working closely with Liverpool's city council, the police and local businesses to make the whole area clean, safe and welcoming for the first opening on 29 May. We're aiming to embed the town centre firmly back into city life, with masses of new shops, bars and nightclubs.

What's a typical working day like?

It's very varied. I might have a meeting with the city travel authorities about getting people to and from the area easily, or call the developers to make sure the CCTV is ready. On other days, I might put on a hard hat and tour the site with a journalist, work on our consumer marketing campaign, or interview people for jobs. The exciting thing about Liverpool is that the city has such huge potential to be regenerated. Around 5,000 people will be employed on the site, and we've got an outreach programme within Liverpool, so the jobs should go to local people.

What do you love about it?

The best thing about it is being involved in a city on the cusp of so much change. There are major opportunities now in Liverpool – people's perceptions of it are changing, and it's incredible to see the city becoming more confident. I think I'm working on the best regeneration project in Europe.

What's not so great about it?

Communication can be tricky when you're co-ordinating a project as large as this. There's a £1bn budget, with 30 buildings, all set in open streets.

What skills do you need to do the job well?

You can do a specialist qualification in economic development, but my background was in business and marketing. You need excellent communication skills, because the job is mainly about liaising with different people. You've also got to be resilient, persistent and confident, so you're able to overcome any setbacks. Regenerating a city requires you to think creatively about how to make the most of its potential, so you should be imaginative and passionate about bringing an area back to life.

What advice would you give someone with their eye on your job?

There are different routes you could take if you want to work in urban regeneration and economic development. You could start at a fast-paced management consultancy firm such as Deloitte, working in city development, which is what I did. It's useful to have a marketing background, so you know about how PR and branding work. Most regeneration projects are public-private partnerships, so other routes into the field might be through working for local government, or private developers.

What's the salary and career path like?

When you're starting out, you might earn £18,000 to £22,000 a year working for a consultancy firm, if you live outside London. For entry-level jobs in local government, the salary is lower than that.


For more information on careers in urban regeneration, visit the Institute of Economic Development at www.ied.co.uk; the Association of Town Centre management at www.atcm.org; the British Council of Shopping Centres at www.bcsc.org.uk; Urban Futures at www.urbanfutures.org.uk; or the London Development Agency at www.lda.gov.uk