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Women in the Property and Infrastructure Industry: Sarah Hartley

In our ‘women in the property and infrastructure’ series, we give you a little more insight into the talented women who form an integral part of the Barker Ryan Stewart team.

In this edition we sat down with Sarah Hartley, one of our Senior Town Planners, to chat a bit more about how she has progressed to her current role, and what she finds most rewarding about working in the industry.

Tell us a bit about yourself and your career path. How have you progressed to your current role?

I started out my career as a secretary in finance, but I didn’t have a passion for this, so I undertook further study to receive my BA in Urban and Regional Planning. In my final years of study, I worked as a Trainee Planner in a private consulting firm located on the Sydney North Shore. This was an invaluable learning ground, and my mentors enthusiastically supported my career progression and exposure to all facets of planning.

Following the birth of my children I moved from private industry to local government and enjoyed the change in perspective in managing development applications. The local government area that I worked in covers a broad spectrum of coast to rural locations, and high density residential, to rural land uses and industrial activities. I was employed in local government for a period of 10 years and loved the team environment that this change provided for me.

I moved to the BRS team in 2018 as a Senior Town Planner and I have enjoyed putting my private industry hat back on, but with the new wisdom gained from my days in local government.

What does a day in your working life look like?

My day starts either in the office with a cup of tea or if I am lucky, in a great location on site. Town planning always offers variety in the workplace, not only in the type of job we are working on, but how we approach our work with a client, so many days will look different.

But we are a team that enjoys collaboration, and we frequently work together to interpret legislation or discuss an approach to a project. There can be periods of email, phone calls and small tasks, reading plans or more solid periods of writing reports.

The variety in the work and the autonomy afforded by this role allows me to cater my workday to make the most efficient use of my time and work to a good rhythm.

What is the favourite part of your role?

I love crafting an approach to a project and then the challenge of building an argument around that approach. Plus, any project that takes me to the beach for an inspection is never a bad day at work.

What have been some of the highlights of your career so far? 

Working with clients or applicants to help them with their project that might be controversial or complicated and achieving a positive result for them.

How has Barker Ryan Stewart been able to support your career progression? 

Since coming to BRS I have had exposure to a different avenue of infrastructure projects and working with state and local government entities for their publicly funded projects. For example, I have enjoyed working on a project knowing it is contributing to better recreation, social housing or infrastructure facilities for the community.

What do you enjoy doing outside of the office?

Spending time with my husband and 4 sons doing something outdoors or creative. My go to ‘mental health’ moments include painting or visiting an art gallery lately. My love of the outdoors and hiking is taking me to the Northern Territory later in the year to hike a couple of sections of the Larapinta Trail.

What are you looking forward to achieving this year?  

As we return to a new normal post 2020, I am personally looking forward to re-establishing a good work rhythm and continuing to take new opportunities to develop or broaden my skill set. As the industry changes to adjust to new online platforms, I am keen to work with our team to offer a service that responds to this new dynamic and provide quality planning outcomes.

Want to get to know our team a bit better?

Check out our other ‘women in the property and infrastructure industry’ blogs to learn more about our team.

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