What is your job? I am the director of a company called West Benbow Consulting. I consult in transport / urban planning. Currently I’m working for Port Phillip Council in Melbourne on a 10-year transport strategy for the area.
Is that something you always wanted to do?
I started in architecture. I moved from Hobart to study at Sydney University, but I didn’t complete the course. It was a very challenging degree for an 18-year-old who was more interested in partying and earning a living. I dropped out and went to work for various outdoor retail companies like Paddy Pallin. I joined the army in 1998 to get some training in management and leadership. I’m still a major in an engineering regiment in Ringwood. Shortly after joining the army I moved to Melbourne because most of my friends were there. I didn’t like the atmosphere in Sydney so much – you need a lot of money to live there and Melbourne was more welcoming.
I decided to study urban planning. I was more interested in the city-scale than the building-scale, and the community rather than the individual aspect. While I was still at uni I got a job with a consulting company in Richmond. It was pretty terrible but in hindsight a useful experience. After that I went to work for the State Government in the Department of Sustainability and Environment. I worked for the government for five or six years then went to a traffic and transport engineering company, GTA Consultants, and created a strategic transport planning team there. It was all about the bigger issues – about what communities want. I moved to Port Phillip Council in 2015.
How did you come to be in the valley?
My wife and I wanted to get away from the city and try working on the land a bit. I moved from being full-time staff to casual and cut down to two days a fortnight. I did the same with my army work. Two days in the office and lots of remote work.
What do you love about the job?
I think it’s something where I can really add value, and I find that rewarding. I feel I have a different approach from others in the job because I’m not from an engineering background. I think I form a bridge between the policymakers and the people on the ground.
What do you do in your spare time?
I spend time on the farm: slashing, mowing and looking after the animals. I enjoy being a bit freer. Life in the city was very onedimensional, and now I have more choice about what I am doing.