Alumni blog: Reflections on my role as an Alumni Rep at FoL

In this alumni guest blog, Bhavna Brooker, Spatial Planning Programme Lead for GLA Group Collaboration and Future of London Alumni Rep, reflects on her role at TfL and as an alumni representative for FoL, and how the two roles complement one another.

Bhavna Brooker, Alumni Rep at Future of London

I’m over half way through my first year as an FoL alumni representative, and a lot has happened. In this blog, I’ll share how my job at TfL and role at Future of London have combined.

 

I joined FoL as an Alumni Rep back in November. We had started to come out of pandemic restrictions in autumn 2021 and were holding in person events again, such has FoLs #Alumni500 event in October and the Building Recovery Conference in November 2021. At the conference, I was delighted to chair the transport in changing times seminar and it was a treat for this to happen in person, but unfortunately we quickly had to revert back to working from home over the Christmas period.

 

The continued restrictions proved challenging at first, as our planned in-person events had to be rearranged to virtual formats at short notice. Jumping into spring, all restrictions eased and we slowly started to hold some events in person, such as the launch of the Emerging Talent Programme in February. Many of us adopted new hybrid ways of working, and it’s easy to forget how relatively new this is for many of us. Needless to say, it’s been a rollercoaster, but it’s certainly been exciting! The FoL team have been great in supporting me and the other Alumni Reps, and adapting the programme of events and podcasts seamlessly.

 

All of this was, of course, taking place around my day job! I’ve been in my role as Spatial Planning Programme Lead at Transport for London for 16 months, which is perfectly complemented by my involvement with FoL. My work aims to achieve greater collaboration across the GLA group and wider family, and cross-organisational collaboration is also a key value of FoL’s. The programme I lead at TfL specifically looks at the spatial planning and regeneration functions at TfL and GLA. This unique role working across both organisations allows me to delve in to each organisation to understand individual priorities, cross cutting priorities, and foster an environment to bring people together to achieve them. The key themes that are core to both organisations include equality, diversity and inclusion, funding and prioritisation and partnership working, and exploring where these can be tackled jointly across the teams, organisations and stakeholders.

 

Though both TfL and the GLA are organisations with similar missions, they each have their own achievements and reflections – much like many other organisations collaborating across the built environment. Some of TfL’s ongoing priorities include securing finances and supporting transport modes and the return to office and travel into London. Notable achievements of late include the opening of the Elizabeth line last month, and the soon-to-be-open Barking’s Riverside station which will unlock more opportunities for the area.

 

For the GLA, the City Hall move to the Royal Docks created a new base to support the regeneration in this part of London – just as the old site of City Hall did in London Bridge, supporting the recovery via the ‘opening up’ of London for travel, business, culture and to carefully support and target Mayoral funding where it’s needed across London.

 

Whilst they have a lot going on and differing priorities, it’s clear that collaboration is essential for TfL and the GLA to achieve many of their common priorities. On the theme of funding, both organisations have, where possible, supported local boroughs in their bids for the Levelling up Fund. It’s also been clear that their partnerships with boroughs and other stakeholders to bid for alternative sources of funding is vitally important to support London’s recovery. And both organisations are committed to ensuring that they are truly representative of London and Londoners, not only in the built environment team but across both organisations and are driving forward actions to do achieve this.

 

All of these are issues that have been at the heart FoL’s activities this year, whether it be through their recent Levelling Up briefing, the Affordable Housing: Overcoming Through Collaboration programme, or the Emerging Talent Programme. It’s great to be involved in an organisation that’s on the pulse, and clearly has the built environment sector’s – and London’s – best interests at heart. It’s been enriching to bring my knowledge from my role at TfL to my work as an Alumni Rep, and vice versa.

 

Future of London will open up recruitment for two new Alumni Representatives in the autumn. The opportunity is open to anyone who has completed one of our Leaders courses. If you want to get more involved in our work then watch this space! In the meantime, you can contact Fran Lord with any queries.