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Trevor used his Master of Urban and Regional Planning as the basis for a career in international development.
Trevor used his Master of Urban and Regional Planning as the basis for a career in international development.

For Trevor Kanaley, a UQ Masters degree in Urban and Regional Planning was the basis of a career which led him through roles in the Department of Urban and Regional Development, the Department of Finance, the World Bank, and on to the position of Director General of AusAID.

Now retired and an Adjunct Professor at the University of Canberra, he lectures and consults on international development and urban issues, and says that his career path was “more serendipity than science”.

“After completing a Bachelor of Economics at the University of Sydney in 1972 I worked for the Commonwealth Department of Trade and Industry in Canberra as a Graduate Clerk,” he said.

“The Department very generously gave me leave to undertake a Master's degree and The University of Queensland was the clear choice for studies in Queensland.

“My brother obtained a UQ handbook and convinced me that the Master of Urban Studies in the Faculty of Architecture, which later morphed into the Master of Urban and Regional Planning degree, was more interesting and broadening than a Master of Economics - it would also be an adventure.

“We both moved into Emmanuel College at UQ and took the Masters programme!”

Trevor remembers many highlights from his time at UQ, including “the 1974 floods, watching Tonga smash Australia in a rugby test at Ballymore in 1973, College life and BBQ lunches at the Staff Club on Sundays”. 

Lewis Keeble, Head of the Department of Regional and Town Planning, and Rod Jensen from the Faculty of Economics, were major influences on Trevor’s studies.

“Never were two teachers more different.  Lewis was boisterous, always arguing, interested in urban design and amenity, and thought economics was a less than necessary evil.  Rod was reserved with a dry sense of humour and he was a fine economist. 

“Both were generous with their students and had the gift of teaching by making you read widely and think. They encouraged a strong social conscience in their students.”

While Trevor never worked as a professional urban planner, the Master of Urban and Regional Planning degree - underpinned with economics - provided the basis for his career.

After completing his degree in 1975 he worked in urban issues, budget matters, infrastructure provision and natural disaster relief arrangements. Opportunities opened in AusAID and the World Bank which led Trevor to the position of Director General of AusAID between 1995 and 1999. 

“While this may sound a long way from urban planning, issues of growth and development, urban productivity and management, and infrastructure provision have been recurring themes throughout my career,” he said.

“Careers are not always a straight line where you study to be a planner, get a job as a planner, progress to more senior planning roles and finally retire. 

“A planning degree can be a foundation to a wide range of careers and there are always new opportunities as your professional interests develop, and new challenges both personal and professional.

“Follow your interests, take a broad view of your studies and read widely - have fun, work hard and enjoy it.”


Last updated: Sep 20, 2013