To celebrate International Women’s Day and the Planning Institute of Australia’s celebration of women planners, we sat down with the newest team member here at Gideon Town Planning (GTP), Zayra Gomez. In this wide ranging discussion, Zayra shares her insights into a career in town planning and the role women play in the industry.
1. How did you become a town planner and why?
My bachelor degree was in architecture, and for 5 years I worked on different projects related to urbanism. During that time, one particular project made me turn to planning - the improvement of my hometown’s city centre pedestrian path. On that project I was responsible for the urban design, community engagement and the overall planning strategy for the future stages of the project. This project made me realise that I wanted to become a town planner to support the community and the development of the city. I then moved to Australia to complete my Masters in Urban and Regional Planning at UQ.
2. What is your favourite part of the job?
I think it is more about the satisfaction that with the work we are doing; we are not only working to fulfil the client’s needs but also in the big picture, we are contributing to the city’s economic, social and environmental aspects.
3. What is the most unexpected and/or unusual part of the job?
Since moving to Central Queensland and working at Gideon Town Planning, I have found it interesting working on development applications and projects located in LGAs situated in remote parts of the state. Although the planning scheme is the same, the projects are different from one to the other, even if it is the same type of development. It is incredible how you can impact land that is thousands of kilometres apart.
4.The perception is that town planning is a male dominated industry. What have you noticed as a female town planner?
Since day one of my masters, it was a surprise that actually the number of women were double the number of men, including my teachers. However, when we focus on Company Directors, CEOs and owners, our counterparts are the ones doubling the numbers.
5. You have moved here to work for Gideon Town Planning. What is your impression of Rocky so far?
Back in Colombia, I am from a city with a similar population and size, so Rocky reminds me of home! I love that everything is just a 15 minute drive, even during peak hours it is not as bad as the big cities. Life is peaceful and there are many things to see and do.
6. If you could have designed one famous or historical building on the planet, which one would it be and why?
The Heydar Aliyev Center in Baku, Azerbaijan. This building’s form is iconic and unique by its swooping façade.
Heydar Aliyev Centre in Baku, Azerbaijan
It is not only a building with curved shapes that challenges the engineer’s limits; it is also the way the strongest materials in the world (concrete and steel) were manipulated to form a building that appears soft and sturdy at the same time. On top of that, it was designed by the visionary Zaha Hadid, a female Architect.
Zayra is just one of many women in the planning industry who is passionate about what she does and makes a tremendous impact on our built environment. We are very excited to have her on the team at GTP and join her in celebrating International Women’s Day.