Town planning consultants tasked on sustainable partnership model

Practitioners under the auspices of the Association of Town Planning Consultants of Nigeria (ATOPCON) have been urged to embrace sustainable partnership business model in order to contribute to the economic growth of the country.

Senior Partner, Knight Frank Nigeria, Frank Okosun, who led his team to the event, gave the advice during ATOPCON’s Annual General Meeting, in Lagos.

Speaking on the theme “Sustainability of Partnership as a Business Model for  Town Planning Firms in Nigeria,” Okosun, who was represented by the company’s Associate Partner, Mr Tope Fasunloro, gave insights on how their commitment to partnership for the past 125 years had worked in building Knight Frank Nigeria as the property partner  to appreciate.

Okosun stated that the nation was being confronted by many challenges, pointing out that only strong professional firms with necessary capabilities would be able to provide solutions.

For this purpose, he enjoined the consultants to consider teaming up in order to create one of the biggest town planning firms in Nigeria or Africa.

Citing Knight Frank example, Okosun said  the  company  had grown to the extent that it currently had over 200 partners and currently visible in 466 offices across the globe, with over 300 clients and over N500 billion worth of real estate assets under its management.

”We couldn’t have achieved all our successes without a formidable and sustainable partnership structure,” he said

According to Okosun, partnership is very useful for growth in professional services like town planning, advising that selection of partners should not be based on friendship or family ties, but be based on competence, character, chemistry and the ability for the person to be committed.

The Knight Frank Nigeria’s senior partner urged them to select the partnership type that works for them or their situation, adding that it has become imperative to ensure they have the right legal structure, transparent accounting procedures, division of responsibilities and a clear succession plan/path in place.

“Partnerships are not a magical formula for business growth; it takes discipline and willingness to be accountable to other partners,” Okosun said.

Justifying the essence of the Annual General Meeting and its theme, ATOPCON’s Acting President, Mr Muyiwa Adelu, said the forum had always been an avenue to assess the association’s successes, strengths, and opportunities thus far, adding that it also served as an event to  bring planning  firms and town planning consultants in the country together to deliberate on current issues and  find possible ways to moving the group  and  practice forward.

As planning consultants, Adelu said that it had become imperative to make their firms sustainable with or without them. To make this happen, he pointed out that they would need to build their firms to the point where their absence would not affect the quality, structure, improvement, and progress of the organisation.

A major feature in this year’s event was the presentation of Posthumous  Award to the former president of the association, Mr Niyi Odetoye, who died in a gas leakage and conflagration disaster,  last June.

National President of the Nigerian Institute of Town Planners, Olutoyin Ayinde, pointed out that for partnership to work, professionals would need to work on their mindset. He identified greed as a major obstacle to sustainable partnership among professionals.

He said the theme of the annual general meeting was relevant to town planning practitioners’ experience, saying “it is worth exploring to help develop enduring professional practice firms.”

Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development in Lagos, Mr. Idris Okanla Salako, said that the incorporation of the sustainability context to the partnership that existed before would engender the derivation of utmost benefit from the engagement of town planning consultants.

With the realisation of the fact that the job of the town planner does not end at the plan report stage but lasts till the end of the project life cycle, the commissioner suggested that consultants must be interested in  what he called ‘Closure Plan’ and its appropriateness for economy, safety and conservation.

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