In February 2022, our very own Isobell Vescovi was selected as the Co-Convenor for VPELA’s Young Professionals Group – and we couldn’t be prouder. A member of UPco since 2015, Izzy is now a Senior Planner who contributes a great deal to the industry. We sat down to have a chat with Izzy about her new role, and what she hopes to achieve.

First of all, congrats on being selected as the YPG Co-Convenor! Can you tell us a bit about YPG?

Thank you! I’m very excited. The Young Professionals Group (YPG) is essentially a committee within VPELA which aims to provide a professional and social network for the up-and-coming VPELA members. There are sixteen YPG members, who come from different backgrounds – this year, we’ve got planners, lawyers, a couple of engineers and an urban designer. The idea is to bring together people with diverse perspectives, and work together to find ways to engage people who are in the earlier stages of their careers. This will be my fourth year on the committee.

What will your role as Co-Convenor involve?

I’ll be working with my fellow Co-Convenor, Jack Chiodo, to lead and coordinate all the committee initiatives. They include things like educational seminars, networking get-togethers and the annual Nexus Ball. The committee meets monthly to discuss issues that young people are facing in the industry – and Jack and I are in touch at least every week. It’s a 3-year tenure being a Co-Convenor, so a fair bit of commitment is required. But it also means we’ll have the opportunity to see our ideas come to life.

What kind of challenges do you think young people face in the industry?

In your first few years, one of the biggest issues is confidence. You want to feel like you’re doing the right thing, and what you’re saying is correct. But there’s so much to learn and take in. It can be a little overwhelming having to get your head around so much information across so many areas. And it can also be tricky to find your groove! We all have different approaches to planning, and chances are, your style won’t be the same as your director.

Another problem is that, in your twenties, you want things to happen right away. You see all these people on Instagram who are Directors of companies at the age of 26 and feel like you’re not as successful as them. But the reality is, building a career in planning takes time, and we all progress at different paces. And Instagram is not reality.

How do you think the YPG can help young planners?

The YPG makes sure younger VPELA members feel heard and represented. It provides lots of opportunities to meet people you’d never otherwise cross paths with. It’s about professional development but it’s also a lot of fun!

It also gives you a chance to speak to people who are outside your workplace. You can ask advice and get perspective on all sorts of things, from getting a promotion to recovering from a mistake. It really helps to be able to ask “did this happen to you?” and realise you’re not alone – it’s all part of the process!

What aspect of being a Co-Convenor is most exciting for you?

A large part of the Co-Convenor role is working with the board to identify and address challenges for young people. I really love having the chance to attend Board meetings and experiencing how they work firsthand. I’m in awe listening to these high profile Board Members and seeing how they bounce ideas and come together. I look forward to learning all I can from them, especially when it comes to running a meeting and balancing different personalities and points of view.

I’m also excited about finding ways to inspire more young planners to stay in the game… and to reassure them that good things take time!