We asked eleven landscape professionals, all at different stages in their careers, to tell us what inspired them to follow a career in landscape and what advice they would give to others. Their answers show the breadth of talent, experience and passion across the profession. They explain how they trained, what is important to them about the profession and how they would recommend it to others.

Paj Valley a Fellow of LI and Director of Masterplanning at WSP

Paj Valley

Paj is a Fellow of LI and Director of Masterplanning at WSP. He graduated with a Bachelor in Landscape Design and BA Hons in Landscape Architecture at Manchester Metropolitan University.

What inspired you to study to become a landscape professional?

I always had a passion for the built environment and loved the history of architecture and fine arts. I found that landscape offered a profession that leant on the foundations of these themes and I was inspired to immerse myself in it. I always carried a small sketch book with me from a very early age; the aim was to look, study and observe people, landscape, buildings and how they sit and interact with the landscape and environment.

What projects are you working on at the moment?

I joined WSP only at the start of February, but at my last company I developed a mixed use residential led masterplan for 4,000 homes in South Warrington. Historically my work has spanned across all work sectors in the UK and more than 40 countries.

I love the fact that the profession is so diverse – it requires skills from designers, managers and scientists alike.
Paj Valley, Fellow of LI and Director of Masterplanning at WSP

What do you enjoy most about your work?

I love the fact that the profession is so diverse – it requires skills from designers, managers and scientists alike. The fact that no two days are the same is a real plus. Seeing sites and working out a vision for future development is the most satisfying aspect.

What do you find most challenging about your job?

Having to continually describe to others why good design adds value. Some clients ‘get it’ quicker than others.

How do you make your mark on the world?

For me it’s about developing environments that positively enhance and enrich people’s lives. I see, through good place-making, the results of uplifting communities by facilitating the way they engage with their place through all aspects of live, work and play.

What trends do you predict for your industry within the next few years?

The role of the environment and the pressure of globalisation and expansion will continue to make us work, develop and rethink the way in which our cities, towns and settlements will need to flex. Key issues – strategic infrastructure, housing, energy, employment, defence and health and wellbeing – will be paramount.

Why is the landscape profession so important to the future of society and the environment?

Landscape professionals are naturally trained well and have the mindset to contribute significantly to many of the key issues and challenges that society faces.

What would you tell someone who is thinking about becoming a landscape professional?

I would say come and join our very expansive profession. It requires the skills of designers, managers and scientists alike. The profession is so diverse that you will almost certainly find a niche that you will feel very comfortable in.

The landscape profession is an adaptable and growing profession that is essential for the success of our society. Because of its diversity it always manages to be fairly resilient to economic recessions. I have seen the need for the growth of landscape professionals in the UK throughout my 25 years of working. A truly inspiring profession to be in.