UPco is delighted to welcome (back) on board a new Principal Consultant, Andrew Clarke. While Andrew has been running his own consultancy for the last two decades, he was once a member of our team back in the early days. We took a minute to find out what Andrew has been up to lately, and why he’s chosen to rejoin our fold.

Welcome Andrew – UPco is very excited to have a planner of your calibre on the team. What inspired you to become a planner in the first place? And what’s the journey been like?

Funnily enough, I got into planning because I didn’t quite know what to do after school – and it seemed like town planning was a good way to connect some of the things I was good at, especially humanities. I studied Town and Regional Planning at Melbourne Uni and graduated with Honours, which gave me a leg up into one of Melbourne’s larger planning consultancies in 1982.

I first crossed paths with UPco’s Phil Borelli back when he was working for government. Fast forward a few years later and I’d spent a couple of years travelling (including an interesting stint as a bartender and occasional bouncer in Hong Kong!). I found my way back to Melbourne and back into planning, and was appointed to sit on Planning Panels Victoria (a role I ended up staying in for 27 years). By that time, Phil had started SJB Planning, and I joined their small team working alongside Phil and another two or three Planners. I even remember the day when a bright young planner named Amanda Ring joined the team…!

By 2001, I was ready for a new chapter, so I started Matrix Planning Australia. I worked as a one man band for the next 20 years, which meant I got to do an array of things – from land acquisition and compensation to planning scheme amendments. I also did a fair bit of work as an expert witness.

What made you decide to return to UPco?

The world has changed a lot in the last 20 years, and is continuing to change before my eyes – and it’s very important to me to evolve along with it. I felt like this was the ideal time to re-join a larger team where I can once again be involved with a diverse range of people and projects. The planning industry has been very good to me, and I’ve learnt a lot. I look forward to sharing some of this as a mentor – and in turn, I am sure there is a lot for me to learn from the younger up-and-coming planners on the team. I’m really looking forward to being back in the thick of it.

Finally, what are you like as a planner? What qualities will you bring to the UPco mix?

I’m a very practical planner, really, and I will certainly bring that approach to my work at UPco. Over the years, I have been fortunate to not only have worked on many types of projects, but with many clients and stakeholders too. Along the way I’ve learnt the importance of communication; you need to be able to speak and write well to get your message across, and engage others so they want to listen to you. I look forward to continuing to do that… now as part of a much bigger team!

Thanks for the chat, Andrew – we’re glad to have you back! To learn more about Andrew’s impressive career, head here for his full bio.