Humans of Property: Peter Malley

3 Dec 2021

UDIA Victoria’s Engagement and Diversity Committee presents Humans of Property. An initiative to celebrate industry champions who want to share their stories of success, adversity and affecting change.

Peter Malley, Senior Associate, Ratio Consultants

Peter’s appreciation for holistic transport planning informs his passion for master planning and large-scale developments. He has contributed expert advice to a range of significant projects including town centres, residential subdivisions, mixed-use developments, healthcare and educational facilities, working closely with clients to achieve successful and innovative responses. When designing a transport system, Peter believes it’s important to consider not only private vehicle use, but public transport options, bicycle accessibility and pedestrian amenity to cater to user diversity.

Peter was recently involved in a serious bicycle accident that left him paraplegic and his disability has offered him a unique understanding of the way transport planning affects the movement of people. He looks forward to recommencing his career after a twelve-month recovery period and applying his insights to stimulating future projects.    

A challenging situation in my career that I overcame…

It probably goes without saying that the last 12 months have been the most challenging time of my career. After my accident, I was told I would never walk again. I didn’t know what my life would look like, let alone my career. Initially, I thought I’d be out of hospital by Christmas and back at work by March … oh how wrong I was! I spent 8 months in hospital doing a lot of physical rehabilitation but also used the time to “rehabilitate” my career by working from hospital in a limited capacity, reconnecting with both my team and clients. The ability to work remotely was a huge positive as I didn’t have to worry about how I would physically get to work. Simply being able to discuss a project with someone virtually helped distract me from my injury and made me realise I could return to work in a truly meaningful role. Throughout 2021, I’ve gradually increased my work so that I now balance working 3-4 days a week around my rehabilitation and therapy. Throughout this time, the support I have received from my peers, industry bodies and Ratio has been amazing and, without this support, it would have been very difficult to return to work. Ratio have been particularly proactive, preparing plans to modify the workplace for my return before I was even able to leave hospital. It is this sort of encouragement and support that goes a long way towards making the effort to achieve the “new normal” all worthwhile. The next 12 months will continue to be a challenge as I still don’t know what my career will look like but I know that I have plenty of support to help me make it what I want it to be.

A tip I would give to my younger self…

Looking back at my career as a transport engineer, I would tell myself not to sweat the small stuff and look at the bigger picture. Too often, we can spend large amounts of energy, time and money resolving minor issues before the significant challenges of the day have been resolved. Whilst it might look good on paper to have lots of the boxes ticked, small things like a minor parking shortfall aren’t (or shouldn’t be!) a determinative factor in a project. Gaining perspective and really understanding what the key issues are, is key to ensuring the best overall project is delivered. This approach has also served me well through my recovery where, rather than focusing on lots of small problems and getting overwhelmed, I’ve concentrated on the larger barriers and in doing so the smaller problems have been resolved.

My greatest career inspiration/support has been… because…

It is difficult to single out just one as I’ve gained so much from working with some of the most prominent people in the urban development industry. What strikes me most about the people who have influenced my career so far is that they were all generous and giving of their time and experience so that I could grow and become a better professional. This is now one of the core values I apply when working with others; to make sure that they receive the same level of support and hopefully become better professionals than me!

Learn more about UDIA Victoria’s Diversity and Inclusion initiatives here.