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Written By

Stephanie Schierhuber


College of Arts, Society and Education

Publish Date

23 October 2020

An unexpected path

After 10 years as a business owner managing over 100 employees, JCU alumni Meredith Hutton decided to take on a new challenge. Meredith is now helping to shape the future of communities in northern Australia.

Becoming a town planner was not a path that Meredith considered when deciding on a career after high school. “I didn’t even know planning existed,” she says. Instead, then 20-year-old Meredith bought her business and embarked on a career in hospitality management.

A few years later, circumstance brought town planning into Meredith’s sights and she began considering a career change. “When I was exposed to planning, I thought that it looked interesting and that it might be something worth pursuing,” she says. “I decided to do my Master’s in it and ended up loving it!”

Town planners make decisions about the future development of urban, regional, and rural communities. Planners consider the overall needs of the community, and work to support the sustainability of cultural, natural, and built environments. Considered planning can improve the liveability and vibrancy of public spaces and effectively manage urban growth to help ensure a prosperous future.

What made Meredith fall in love with planning was the variety that it offered. “It’s a good mix of technical skills, problem solving, and talking to people,” she says. “I liked the idea of talking to people and problem solving through the different levels of development.”

From the outset Meredith knew that she wanted to work in the private consulting space after graduation. “I knew I was interested in private consulting and I could tailor all of my subjects to that. I was really able to focus on what I was interested in, which was the biggest plus in doing my Master’s.”

Meredith's planning degree gave her the chance to visit Venice, a place that's more than familiar with the challenges of urban water management. Image: provided by Milford planning

Working the dream job

Meredith is now in her dream job with Townsville firm Milford Planning. The thing she enjoys most is the variety that comes with working in regional planning. “We do work with local governments, we do strategic planning, we do development assessment,” she says. “There’s a really broad cross section because we’re doing work in so many geographical areas, so it makes it really, really interesting. There’s always a mixture of what you get, and you’re always exposed to different issues and outcomes. It keeps me on my toes.”

After finishing a degree and snagging a dream job most people are happy to have a break from intense learning. But Meredith isn’t most people. Her desire to keep learning is her main career goal. “I am just so keen to learn all of things I can,” she says. “I’m continually learning as much technical knowledge as I can. My goal is just to soak in as much planning knowledge as possible, especially about strategic and development assessment work.”

For Meredith the best part about planning is the impact it can have on local communities.

“Planning provides so much opportunity both for built industry and social planning. It can make real change within local communities when you combine built industry and social planning together. It changes the shape of a city.”

Want to help design a sustainable and prosperous future? Consider JCU Planning.