Blanche Manuel


Meet Blanche Manuel





Meet Blanche Manuel

Senior Associate: Planning Blanche Manuel joined the Ratio team in 2015, bringing her expert planning advice and VCAT advocacy skills to clients across the residential, commercial and industrial sectors.

Blanche talks about the importance of a communicative and supportive work environment, her interest in accommodation projects and why she was once on ‘A Current Affair.’

Meet Blanche Manuel

Did you always want to be a town planner?

I didn’t even know what a town planner was until I picked up the VTAC course book after dropping out of my Arts degree one month in!

I initially started looking into Architecture because I had a real interest in building design but it didn’t feel quite right for me. At school, I really enjoyed subjects like SOSE, Legal Studies, Economics and English so when I started reading the course description for urban planning it seemed like a good fit.

What makes a good town planner?

I think good town planners come in many forms, which is what makes our industry so diverse and interesting. Some planners like to ‘think big’ in more strategic or policy-making settings whereas others enjoy the nitty-gritty routine of the planning approval process.

Either way, I think that a good town planner needs to have an ability to problem solve, think logically and strive for positive outcomes that will benefit the community. Communication is a critical part of this role, particularly when you are dealing with a range of different stakeholders.

What are your areas of speciality and interest?

I genuinely enjoy working on all types of projects across a range of sectors. With the ongoing challenges Melbourne is facing concerning housing supply and affordability, I continue to enjoy working on a diverse mix of accommodation projects, including residential, student accommodation and aged care facilities. I also enjoy projects that further community development such as childcare and schooling facilities.

What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced in your career?

I would have to say that, by and large, my career has run relatively smoothly thanks to the support and development opportunities I have been offered in the places I have worked. For me, many of the challenges I have personally faced have been a result of my self-doubt and responding to life changes (having kids, going on maternity leave, dealing with the pandemic). Having a network of people who challenge, encourage and support me continues to be something I am very grateful for and I believe the environment we work in is so crucial to people’s wellbeing and ability to thrive.

What’s been a favourite project you’ve worked on?

There are so many interesting clients and projects I’ve worked on that I don’t have a favourite! What I love about planning is working with people to navigate what can be a very challenging process and ultimately getting a great outcome for the client. Sometimes the most rewarding wins are the less glamorous projects.

Some of my favourite projects include properties on the Victorian Heritage Register, beautifully designed dwellings, community buildings and supermarkets.

What’s the best part about working at Ratio?

We work in a close-knit team where knowledge sharing, celebrating success and supporting each other is encouraged and I think this creates a culture of support and collaboration. We work in an environment where asking questions is always a good thing and where you’re encouraged to have fun while at work.

I like to think a lot of the ‘fun’ culture is created by my hilarious jokes but realise that this may be why the people who sit near me like to work from home.

Tell us a fun fact or story about yourself that your colleagues haven’t heard?

Anyone that’s met me knows I talk A LOT so I can’t imagine there is anything interesting (or uninteresting) that people don’t know already about me!

Some fun facts are:

  • I was once on ‘A Current Affair’ for playing in an all-girls soccer team in an all-boys soccer league.
  • I grew up in Hobart and used to ride around the neighbourhood on a unicycle (I was a unique child).
  • I once went swimming inside the shark nets at the beach and there was a shark stuck in there with me!