Trained as an architect, and with a background in planning and government, Pooja Agrawal understands the need for talented architects and planning practitioners in local government, where talent is thin. She co-founded Public Practice to fill that void.
Based in London, Public Practice trains and places architects and planners in local government positions with the aim of building capacity to respond to the affordable housing crisis. They currently onboard two cohorts per year and place them in 24 partner councils across London and south-east England but they are growing.
Many associates stay beyond their one year placement. Over time Pooja expects Public Practice to grow and strategically change the talent and culture in government in additional sectors, such as energy solutions, all towards building better places for everyone.
And in case she’s not busy enough, Pooja also co-hosts a ‘diversity platform’ called Sound Advice, and has a slew of honors and engagements attached to her name.
Pooja has worked as a public servant at Homes England and the Greater London Authority, and in private architecture and urban design practices including Publica and We Made That. She co-published Now You Know, a compendium of fifty essays exploring spatial and racial inequality, is a Fellow at the Institute of Innovation and Public Purpose and an Associate at the Quality of Life Foundation. She has previously mentored at FLUID and Stephen Lawrence Trust, taught at Central Saint Martins and was a trustee for the Museum of Architecture. And she was nominated for the Planner’s Woman of Influence in 2018 and 2019.
Read the podcast transcript here
Eve Picker: [00:00:09] Hi there. Thanks for joining me on Rethink Real Estate. For Good. I’m Eve Picker and I’m on a mission to make real estate work for everyone. I love real estate. Real estate makes places good or bad, rich or poor, beautiful or not. In this show, I’m interviewing the disruptors, those creative thinkers and doers that are shrugging off the status quo, in order to build better for everyone. If you haven’t already, check out all of my podcasts at our website RethinkRealEstateForGood.co, or you can find them at your favorite podcast station. You’ll find lots worth listening to, I’m sure.
Eve: [00:01:08] Today, I’m talking with Puja Aggarwal, the founder of Public Practice and what a pleasure it is. Trained as an architect and with a background in government, Pooja understands the need for talented architects and planning practitioners in local government where talent is thin. She co-founded Public Practice to fill that void. Based in London, Public Practice trains and places architects and planners in local government positions with the aim of building capacity to respond to the affordable housing crisis. They currently onboard two cohorts per year and place them in 24 partner councils across London and South England, but they are growing. Many associates stay beyond their one year placement. Over time, Puja expects Public Practice to grow and strategically change the talent and culture in government in additional sectors such as energy solutions, all towards building better places for everyone. And in case she’s not busy enough, Puja also co-hosts a diversity platform called Sound Advice and has a slew of honors and engagements attached to her name. Puja is a dynamo. Listen in to learn more.
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Eve: [00:03:13] Hello, Pooja. I’m hugely excited to talk to you today.
Pooja Agrawal: [00:03:17] Hi Eve, thank you so much for having me.
Eve: [00:03:20] You’re an architect by training, but you launched a non-profit called Public Practice, which I think has a really clear and simple vision. “We find, select, and place built environment professionals into local authority teams.” I’m just wondering, why did you start Public Practice? Can you take me on that journey?
Pooja: [00:03:39] Yeah, absolutely. So, you’re right, I am an architect by background, and it takes a very long time, I think probably in most places in the world, to become an architect. I guess the things that always attracted me to architecture was the impact it can have on people’s lives. And throughout my career, I was always trying to work for places that were sort of pushing what that actually looks like. So, I was always interested in looking beyond the building. And I think even when I was studying, it was always that same kind of radical at the time. So, hold on, why are you talking about what’s happening just outside the building? We’re interested in the fabric of the building or the form of the building. And I was more interested in the wider context of the places that we were designing these propositional buildings in, or through actual practice. I worked in both New York and in London for a number of years in private practices. And I guess increasingly started to come across some really interesting clients who tended to be public sector clients. And I realized then that, I guess, actually the clients had some of the really interesting opportunities to shape those places. So, I guess as an architect, you were given this remit. We were given you’ve got a budget of 300,000 pounds to design this town centre in this place. And I suppose I was asking, hold on, why are we even looking at town centres in the first place? Why is it this particular town centre and why only 300,000 pounds?
Pooja: [00:05:16] And I realized, actually the people that were making that decision had a lot of power, and there was this really interesting opportunity to be in that position and make change from that side of the table. So, I joined the Greater London Authority, which is the equivalent of the city mayor, the Mayor of London. And here that’s about eight hundred people working in an organization. So, I brought, I suppose, my architectural background and design into this team that was looking at regeneration more broadly and was able to make, I guess, some of those spatial decisions with my background, but also input on a whole range of other things like policy, looking at design quality in housing, or looking at the circular economy- how can that be embedded in the London plan? Or just all public spaces – how can that appeal and be equal for all different types of people? So, I guess that was the beginning of my journey.
Eve: [00:06:16] It sounds really, really familiar to me because I made very similar choices, maybe not as clearly as you, but it was very frustrating to be an architect, to be told to kind of draw lines and toilet details and stair details for projects that I wanted to understand why this project in this place? So, I totally get it. I actually ended up at a planning department myself for very similar reasons. Yeah,
Pooja: [00:06:43] That’s fascinating.
[00:06:44] I’m not sure what at the time, I was too young to realise that’s where the power lay. But I think the power definitely lies there, and with finances. There’s no doubt about it. And architects hold, unfortunately, very little power, right?
Pooja: [00:07:00] Completely. And I think that’s it. I realise as an architect, I felt like I was at the bottom of this pecking order of decision makers and people with power. And actually, the higher you would go in that decision making process, you’d be able to make more decisions. So, I guess the ultimate aim is to be the Prime Minister, right?
Eve: [00:07:18] Yeah, exactly. Oh yes, way to go Pooja! So, you know, the thing that’s odd about this is that I think architecture training is probably the best training that you could possibly get. It’s like creatives trained to take absolutely nothing and turn it into something. That sort of brainpower is unbelievable, right?
Pooja: [00:07:41] It’s a really good question. So, especially in the UK system, it’s very siloed the way we think about learning. Actually, I moved to the UK from India when I was about 16, so I’ve done most of my higher education and formal education in this country, and I was really surprised, aged 16, you were having to choose three or four subjects. And I know it’s really different in America and even through university, we choose one subject. Lots of friends are choosing English or science or biology, and yeah, I just…
Eve: [00:08:15] I mean, it was the same for me in Australia. I think we’re based on the English system.
Pooja: [00:08:19] Yes, it’s very similar. Exactly. Unfortunately, I don’t know why. So, I think the appeal for me, even with architecture, was because I have a creative mind, but I also have quite a practical and technical mind, and I’m quite entrepreneurial. So, architecture somehow always was this kind of, the most broad education I could have had and hence choosing architecture. So yes, in many ways, I find it a really interesting training because you do have so many different parts of your brain are working and you’re trying to think about all of these different complexities. What I felt was missing in my own personal education and training, even in architecture, was the more city-making side of things. And I guess that’s why I sort of pushed and found myself working in practices or places that were kind of influencing that. And I suppose, I guess, going back to where Public Practice evolved or came from, it was at the Greater London Authority that when I was working there, we work very closely with lots of different partners, including the municipalities and where I saw places having the most holistic visions or ambitions was where the people were most ambitious or the places or municipalities that had the people power.
Pooja: [00:09:37] So there was a huge gap in terms of the capacity of local authorities, and there’s lots of evidence on this whole subject about, I guess, austerity. You know, the public sector has massively shrunk over the years. There’s a lot of what municipalities do here is kind of children’s and adult services, and all of the more innovative vision making side of public sector has shrunk and planning is a huge part of that. And on the other side, you have all of these brilliant people working in architecture, urban design, who just didn’t really think about working the public sector at all because, I mean, no one ever came and spoke to me about that when I was at university.
Eve: [00:10:22] Yeah, that’s true.
Pooja: [00:10:22] And I do think things have changed over the last 10, 15 years. I’d like to think Public Practice has had a big part of that, at least in this part of the country, but it wasn’t really seen as an ambitious and fulfilled, like an ambitious thing to do. So, I suppose in summary, where Public Practice emerged or came from, me and a colleague set it up from within the Greater London Authority but spun it out as an independent organisation. And the whole purpose of Public Practice is to be able to find those people, attract the most talented people, really advocate for working in the public sector is a really ambitious thing to do. And we place them in the public sector for a variety of different roles that influence places for a year-long program. That’s the kind of core of what we do, and we…
Eve: [00:11:14] It’s a yearlong programme. It’s a specific programme.
Pooja: [00:11:17] Exactly. So the programme itself is a yearlong, but we have found that most of the people we have placed in the public sector, we’re young organisations only just over four years old, over 90 percent of the people we’ve placed have stayed on from that first year. So, from the architectural design side, people have found us. It’s almost like they’re kind of dipping their toes and they’re like, “oh, wait, this is great!” and have continued to stay on. And in parallel, these people who, we call them are associates, we put in a cohort of people, so they all start at the same time. So, there’s say twenty five people starting on this journey together, we have a whole training programme for them that happens in parallel, both in terms of kind of hard knowledge, but also some of the more softer support network that they have with each other that helps them transition into the public sector.
Eve: [00:12:12] That’s really interesting. I mean, I had a very similar journey myself, and I think it’s almost like trade school when you’re at high school. I don’t know what you call trade school in England, but the trades, like being a chef or welding or something that isn’t a college degree. They just don’t talk about them at high school as if they’re some lesser way to live your life, right? So, it’s really interesting. So, you’re pretty young. How do architects and other built environment professionals find you?
Pooja: [00:12:47] So we have really established our brand where we are in London, but in the wider region of this country at the moment, and we really, I think just advocating for the public sector, we just seem to have really grown our support network over time. So, we, really practically and pragmatically, we just really, we’re out there where we have written opinion pieces, we do lots of events, we go to universities so that four years on, they’ll come and join the program. So just to say, this is not, we attract people who have been working for at least three or four years in a professional environment. So, we want people who know what they’re doing and can hit the floor running as it were. So, I guess we’ve just been able to really build our brand and reputation over time. And when we first started four years ago, we were very much focused on design skills and were very much looking at London. But over those last four years, what has been quite interesting to see is actually the local authorities are asking us for a whole variety of different skills to be able to impact their places. So, for example, loads of local authorities have committed to being net zero by 2030, but do not have the skills to be able to even envision what that looks like. So they come to us
Eve: [00:14:10] That’s pretty ambitious, yeah.
Pooja: [00:14:12] Absolutely. So, they come to us and we’re able to find those people who are really committed to making change and put them in those positions. So, it’s been an interesting journey for us.
Eve: [00:14:24] So that was my next question. Do you place everyone? What does the process look like for someone who is interested in participating in your program?
Pooja: [00:14:33] So we run a really competitive process, and I think that’s part of the, being part of the cohort is almost that like stamp on your CV because it’s so competitive to get on the program. So, every round of applications, which in this region we do every six months, we get a couple of hundred applications and twenty-five people tend to go through. We run a very bespoke recruitment process, which is a three-step process, and I won’t go into all the detail, but the process has been designed to be really inclusive, and we look at best practice in terms of, how do you create a really inclusive environment for a whole variety of different needs? We look at a whole range of different things. So yes, we look at, you know, a little bit maybe about experience, but actually we look at things like, how do these people work in a team? Are they kind of humble enough? Will they listen to other people? Because working in the public sector is, if you’re talking about architects, you really need to leave your ego behind to get anything done.
Pooja: [00:15:41] The one thing about a public service is bringing people together on a journey to make something happen, and you will always have people with really strongly differing views. Not even in the public, just but within a public sector organisation. And that’s because every single department has a different ambition or is trying really hard to do something really specific. So how do you build consensus, for example? And that’s one of the things we test in our recruitment design process. And then we try and understand people’s own personal motivations and ambitions. We’re a value-led organisation. We believe strongly in the public sector about change-making from within the system. We really believe in social equality, and we believe in that interdisciplinary approach. So, we see whether these people have a passion and really believe in these things. And so that’s how we shortlist from, like I said, a couple of hundred people to about twenty-five people at the end. And at the same time, we do the same with local authorities. We really push them to say, hold on are these ambitious roles because we have ambitious people who want to make change. It shouldn’t just be the standard role that you’ve been trying to recruit to for three years and haven’t had any luck. Like what is it that’s slightly different? Are you being really ambitious about this? Are you engaging with your communities? We push them as well.
Eve: [00:17:05] It’s a real matchmaking process.
Pooja: [00:17:07] Exactly. So, we have a very complex matchmaking process, which we’re refining every round, but we are getting there and it’s really fulfilling to see when it all kind of comes together and all these people the first week when they start their journey together, it’s truly inspiring. And every six months you think, great, this is this is amazing.
Eve: [00:17:26] Well, that was my next question. You talked about a cohort. So, it’s yeah, twice a year event at the moment.
Pooja: [00:17:32] At the moment it is exactly. And at the moment it’s also within a particular region. So, we say that in this country, it’s like the southeast of England, the east of England and London. We have, as of a few weeks ago, actually just got funding from national government to expand our services to across England. So, we are in a really exciting, pivotal moment. And I guess we are in that process of just determining our strategy, but within the next two years, we should be operating across the country.
Eve: [00:18:05] Well, that’s very exciting. And I had a question about diversity, and you touched on that. What does diversity look like in architecture and the built environment in England today?
Pooja: [00:18:16] It’s pathetic. It’s really quite depressing. So I personally have been an advocate for diversity in the industry more broadly for quite a long time, and I have sort of attacked it in lots of different ways. So, when I was at the Greater London Authority, we tried to, with the team obviously, it was not only me, but we worked on a more policy-led approach. I have also set up another organisation called Sound Advice with a dear friend, and that was really provocative, really like gets people really uncomfortable and primarily on Instagram, and we published a book with the whole variety of people of colour a couple of years ago, last year. So, I suppose I’ve always attacked it in different ways. At Public Practice in the last six months actually, since I’ve come, we’ve just been trying to break down the data a little bit more and actually seeing where the data gaps are. So historically, we have always compared the data of our associates, of our cohort compared to the industry, and we tend to do way, way better than the industry. But the problem is that that’s not actually that hard. To date Public Practice has done quite well compared to the industry. So, if we were to take something like ethnic minorities, public practices cohorts have been twenty-six percent diverse in that instance.
Pooja: [00:19:46] But some something like architect is only four percent in this country and planning and surveying is even much less. So, we’ve tended to be really like good in terms of the industry or, for example, over 60 percent of people identify as women. And again, I think architecture is about thirty five percent here in this country. So, in some ways, we could pat ourselves in the back and say, we’re doing really well. But actually, what we’re trying to do now is compare ourselves to the regions or the places we represent. And as soon as you do that, of course, our statistics drop. But if we target that in the longer term, that’s really where we’d like to be. So, we, from our data analysis, learned that the lowest number of candidates we’ve had have been black men. So, we have in the last six months launched a #BlackInThePublicSector campaign, and you can see that on our Twitter and LinkedIn, but it’s very much targeting and celebrating Black men in the public sector to be those role models for people to see that as a career ambition. And this will take time to build, make that change within public practice but more broadly, but it’s something that we are genuinely passionate about and are trying to take a very data-led approach to it.
Eve: [00:21:06] You know, I’m kind of surprised because I always think of England as, especially London, as such a diverse place. These statistics are pretty awful. Does that start in architecture school? Like, can you, are you controlled by what’s happening there?
Pooja: [00:21:22] Yeah, there’s a lot of interesting literature about this. And in fact, one of the pieces of work I worked on at the Greater London Authority was called Supporting Diversity, and there’s a lot of evidence there. It looks at the architecture career, journey even, at each stage and shows what is happening, what are the key barriers. And I’m sure this is common everywhere. At every stage you seem to lose, if we’re talking about ethnic minorities, at every stage you get less and less and less. And as soon as you get to the director level of running a practice, it becomes minuscule. So, there’s lots of different ways you can tackle this, but there is definitely a sense of urgency of trying to tackle it, in a real, tangible way.
Eve: [00:22:06] Right. Interesting. How many are there? I mean, you said there are 25 people in a cohort. Is that 25 authorities that you’re dealing with it? That would be a lot.
Pooja: [00:22:15] Yeah. So, at the moment, it tends to be at around twenty, twenty-five authorities in one particular cohort. But of course, there’s always two cohorts running in parallel. So while our network of authorities fundraise, and what we try and do is create those spaces for them to learn from each other as well. And I think that’s a really important and interesting thing. Over the years, it’s been interesting to see where, so it’s been four years now, we’re seeing teams develop, in particular authorities of our alumni and then new associates. So, we might have 12 or 15 people in a particular authority who’ve had some sort of link or route through Public Practice. And another thing that’s really interesting there is seeing people placing people in different departments. So, you might have someone in the transport and highways team, and you might have someone in the housing team. And because of Public Practice, they have a relationship, and you start to see them working together within their local authority. So, we’re seeing that sort of culture shift that is building over time and when you start to see local authorities talking to each other across the region, say, we’re all trying to tackle coastal poverty, for example, you can start to see how we’ll be able to use our network to connect those dots and share those learnings.
Eve: [00:23:38] So you’re building a complete ecosystem of architects who are not practicing architecture but are using their skills in an entirely different way. It’s pretty exciting. How do you think about impact and how do you track that for your organization? Like, what are the stats look like?
Pooja: [00:23:53] It’s a really good question. So, there’s so many different ways that we can track that way. Like I said, we’re quite young now. So, so far, what a really tangible impact is us being able to say we’ve placed over two hundred people in over 50 authorities in this region. We can say things like, from the first few years what we’ve been able to track, over 90 percent of people have stayed on. It’s those types of impacts and statistics that we’re able to capture. Where we’re getting to now, a few years on, are actually looking at particular case studies. So, looking at places like Cambridgeshire. So, we’ve just actually made a video which shows, over the years, the different types of skills we brought into Cambridge, whether it’s digital skills or community engagement skills or architecture and urban design skills, and how they have worked to create different projects in places. It’s hard for us to take the impact of what associates are doing on the ground as the impact that Public Practice is making directly but we see that more as that qualitative evidence that we’ve been able to influence these places by those places having those multidisciplinary skills within their authorities.
Eve: [00:25:09] What are some examples of some really notable projects that have been impacted by your placements, that you love? Your favorites.
Pooja: [00:25:18] One, if the local authorities we’ve worked with quite a lot over the years and we’ve placed a whole number of different associates, I think it’s over 10 people there over the last few years is, it’s a district council called Epping Forest District Council but there’s a particular area where five different authorities come together working on a garden town. So, Harlow and Gilston Garden Town. And their whole ambition was delivering over sixteen-thousand homes. What is really particularly interesting about this is the different types of skills they came to us for. So, we’ve placed urban design architect and master planning skills, but we’ve also placed sustainability skills, landscape architecture, planning skills and also ecology and biodiversity. And that has been really interesting seeing all of these different people working together. So, we placed someone who had a very specific specialism in SUDS (sustainable urban drainage systems) and other people who were more transport experts. And one of the kind of, I guess, outcomes of products that came out of the work they were doing was a sustainability guidance and checklist. And these things seem really like, oh, it’s another report or a technical thing, but a lot of what, about working in public sector is bringing all of these different people to commit to saying, we’re going to do this. And in this document, they’ve committed to making these different types of changes or encouraging developers or encouraging people. These are the things that you actually really pragmatically need to look at if you want to create a sustainable place. So, I think that is one, like a more process-driven example.
Pooja: [00:26:54] I guess another example that springs to mind is a project in Oxford City Council, and I think that speaks quite well to where we’ve been over the last few years with COVID. So again, we’ve placed a few associates there with actually more urban design and engagement and actually social enterprise skills there. And with COVID, I guess we were in that position, you know, everyone knows how over the last few years.
Eve: [00:27:33] Very weird,
[00:27:35] Really hard. And suddenly you realize the importance of public spaces as a place to actually bring different people together. And when you’re not allowed to go inside and have a coffee with a friend what do you do? So actually, a few of our associates worked, bringing their different expertise to create a temporary outdoor space, and it’s called Broad Meadow. And it was meant to be this temporary project. And yeah, it has all of these like lovely green elements to it, and it became such a kind of loved place in the town center that actually it’s become a long-term project and the council are investing in it. And most, like, you know, it’s like 90 percent of the respondents said that they want this to become a permanent scheme and building that momentum from the community and really delivering something tangible on the ground that has been really celebrated and loved is a really exciting and another interesting example of something we’ve seen on the ground.
Eve: [00:28:34] What excites you most about the work you’re doing?
Pooja: [00:28:40] What excites me the most is seeing people excited about their jobs. I guess a lot of what I’m doing is bringing all of these people into public sector roles, and I think that, almost that first day when people are sort of bright-eyed and thinking, oh, this is going to be a really exciting year and then tends to be about four months in, they’re like, oh my God, this is so hard and I’m not going to be4 able to do anything this year. And then eight months in they’re like, oh, I don’t know if I’m gonna achieve anything. And then 10 months in, they’re like, oh, wow, look at this thing, it’s happening. And seeing that journey…
Eve: [00:29:17] That’s great. That’s really great.
Pooja: [00:29:18] …it’s really exciting. And now, you know, whenever I go to any built environment, architecture planning event, there will be someone from the Public Practice family that is there. And just knowing that you’re making that influence like you’re creating this network of change through people. For me, it’s really, I find that quite powerful. And I’m sort of this idealist, I do really believe in the public sector and the impact public sector can have. If it’s designed well, if it’s really representative of communities, I do believe that that’s where change can come from. So, for me, that is seeing that kind of change build over time makes me excited and passionate about what we’re trying to do here.
Eve: [00:30:08] So would you say that Public Practice has met your expectations?
Pooja: [00:30:13] Well, I mean, nothing ever meets my expectations. Eve, I’m always trying to improve things.
Eve: [00:30:22] So what can you do better? Then what do you want to do better?
Pooja: [00:30:26] That’s a good question. So, I guess the first thing would be about measuring our impact better, you know, to be honest. You touched on that already. Like, how can we really capture what we’re doing? It sometimes can feel nuanced. Like, how do you capture culture change? That’s hard. And that’s something we’re thinking about. How do we grow across the country and still ensure that quality is going to be a really interesting challenge for us over the few years? And that’s something I’m thinking about. And being maybe just still being in that kind of thought leadership space. What is the next type of need? What is it that we need the public sector to have in-house in a year’s time or two years’ time knowing what is happening in our wider context? Being able to be able to predict that and build. Be ready for that or always tell them that that’s what they need. I think that is another interesting space that we are constantly thinking about.
Eve: [00:31:26] So what is that next need? I’m going to have to ask,
Pooja: [00:31:30] What is that next need? =I like, I’m… We just launched this report around town centre recovery, looking at high streets and one of those things that, I guess I’m interested in what you do as well. We had a crowdfunding platform at the Mayor of London and…
[00:31:50] Spacehive, right?
[00:31:51] Yeah, exactly.
Eve: [00:31:51] I love Chris Gourlay. I interviewed him. I’ve known him for years. It’s a really fabulous platform. I was going to ask you, you know, because his model sort of reminds me of what you’re doing, and it’s fascinating to me how he has this partnership with all these local authorities. It’s fascinating how the local authorities are so engaged in the U.K.
Pooja: [00:32:12] Yeah. No, it’s interesting. And maybe it’s almost the work that Spacehive are doing and we’re doing is almost engaging local authorities to see that they can drive that change. I’ve forgotten your question now.
Eve: [00:32:25] Oh, me too. Okay.
Pooja: [00:32:26] What were we talking about?
Eve: [00:32:26] So, what’s the what’s the next step? You know, and…
Pooja: [00:32:30] Oh yeah, what’s the next thing? Yeah, I think it’s something, I feel like we’re still a little bit, and I think I’ve thought of this as well. We can be quite siloed and being like, it’s all about communities leading the change. It’s all about the public sector leading the change. And increasingly, there is something a bit more nuanced about how all of these different players play a role. We also tend to think, where does the private sector fit into this space as well? You know, increasingly there’s a whole conversation about B Corps or, you know, green financing and all of this stuff. And like, how do all of these different bodies, if you want to call them that, these organisms work together in a more network way or in a way that’s not so perhaps idealistic, which I can critique myself for, and not feel like you’re giving up on your ethics because you’re making that longer-term change. So, there’s something there around… oh, that’s so boring to say a partnership working, but there’s something more about, like, a bit more nuance around power and change-making, perhaps.
Eve: [00:33:40] Interesting. So, what’s your big, hairy, audacious goal, as they say in the US – your BHAG?
Pooja: [00:33:48] My what? I’ve never of this.
Eve: [00:33:50] You never heard that before? The big, hairy, audacious goal.
Pooja: [00:33:54] Big, hairy audacious… No, I need to write this down, look it up and make one.
Eve: [00:34:00] I love that: big, hairy, audacious goal. You don’t have one. I can’t. Well, it’s the Mayor of London, right? That’s your BHAG.
Pooja: [00:34:08] Yeah, sure. Or, Prime Minister, we joked about that. No, I think that increasingly I feel like we’re in this interesting space where it’s nice not to be like, this is what I’m going to do in five years’ time. Actually, especially the people we bring into the public sector, our associates have quite squiggly careers. I actually find that quite inspiring that we’re finding our way and through making change you find different opportunities and it’s almost like creating Public Practice. Six years ago, I wouldn’t have been able to say I’ll be CEO of an organization that I’m going to create. Like, who knew that was going to happen? So, I guess it’s hard for me to predict what it is that’s going to capture my imagination next.
Eve: [00:34:54] I have a feeling your mother probably knew, but. Anyway, this is truly inspirational, and I’ve really enjoyed talking to you, and I’d love to chat more, and I just feel drawn to come back to England at some point and just… There’s something about the way that you approach working with authorities there that’s very different. I love what I see with Spacehive and with Public Practice, and I love that connectivity. It’s really interesting. Congratulations.
Pooja: [00:35:30] Thank you so much. It’s been such a pleasure, and I hope…
Eve: [00:35:33] Can’t wait to see what happens.
Pooja: [00:35:34] Yeah. Oh well, you’ll know, I’ll keep you updated. But come and visit, it’ll be lovely to meet you properly.
Eve: [00:35:40] Okay, wonderful.
Eve: [00:35:48] That was Pooja Aggarwal. She’s an insightful and forceful leader, trained as an architect and with a background in government. Puja understands the need for talented architects and planning practitioners in local government where talent is thin. She’s not waiting around for anyone else to fix that problem. She plans to fix it herself.
Eve: [00:36:17] You can find out more about this episode or others you might have missed on the show notes page at our website RethinkRealEstateForGood.co. There’s lots to listen to there. A special thanks to David Allardice for his excellent editing of this podcast and original music, and thanks to you for spending your time with me today. We’ll talk again soon, but for now, this is Eve Picker signing off to go make some change.
Image courtesy of Pooja Agrawal and Public Practice