Meet a Geographer — Working indoors

Charles JohnsonCharles Johnson

Chief Executive Officer
City of Wanneroo, Western Australia

 

Charles is the Chief Executive Officer of the City of Wanneroo which is one of the fastest growing cities in Australia.  It accounts for some 35–45% of all new residential lot development in the Perth Metropolitan Area with an annual growth rate of 5–8%.  The population of Wanneroo is expected to increase from 130,000 to over 250,000 in the next 15–20 years.

The major environmental trends impacting on Wanneroo are the same as those facing Australia and the world.  These trends include continued degradation of the natural environment, declining water and air quality, increased energy consumption with impacts on global climate change.

The best aspects of my job

The best part of my job is overseeing Council Administration which is seeking to create a more sustainable future.  The City has developed a Smart Growth Strategy which aims to facilitate more sustainable forms of development through the effective integration of environmental, social and economic factors.

My career pathway

I have found my training in both geography and town planning as very important in managing the growth of a city such as Wanneroo … My current position is the result of some 25 years experience working in local and state government levels in town planning and management.

From 1988 to 1994 I was the Planning Manager on the 150 hectare East Perth Redevelopment Project and in 1995 the Principal Planning Consultant on the Subiaco Redevelopment Project.  I have held executive planning positions with the City of Subiaco, and the City of Wanneroo in addition to planning positions with the State Government planning agency.

In 1991 I won a Winston Churchill Memorial Fellowship to study urban renewal projects in North America and Great Britain.

I have found my training in both geography and town planning as very important in managing the growth of a city such as Wanneroo where there is a need to understand all aspects of development with its associated environmental impacts.

Future career options

In the longer term I would like to be teaching town planning and geography at a university level.  I am currently enrolled in a PhD studying Master Planned Communities in North America and in Australia.  I believe that it is important that people who reach a senior career level in geography and planning do take the opportunity to teach people.

Studies and Geography and Town Planning

I have a Masters of Arts Degree in Geography from the University of Western Australia and a Master of Environmental Studies (Urban Land Use Planning) from York University in Toronto, Canada.  In addition I hold a graduate diploma in Business Administration from Deacon University in Melbourne.

I have found my studies in geography and town planning as a great foundation for the development of a career in management in local government.

Advice to people considering this type of career

Studies in geography provide an invaluable basis for the development of a career in town planning.Studies in geography provide an invaluable basis for the development of a career in town planning.  It is important however that formal planning qualifications are also achieved and these can be undertaken at an undergraduate or graduate level and are often linked to geography studies.

It is important that people also gain experiences in working in the geography and town planning areas and the local and state government spheres provide an opportunity to gain this valuable experience.