THRIVHER INTERVIEW: April McCabe


April McCabe


Thrivher Achievements:

  • Policy Manager, Lord Mayor of Sydney City of Sydney (about to take up a new role as Associate Director at Cred Consulting)

  • Founder of Urbanistas Sydney, which is part of a global network amplifying the voice of women by supporting ideas and projects that create positive change in our cities and communities.



THRIVHER DIVE


Can’t start the day without: Coffee (cliche I know, but....)

Go-to coffee, tea, cafe request: 3/4 Soy Flat White (Eye roll - so inner-city hipster)

Best read for personal growth of all time: Daring Greatly by Brene Brown. I love her thoughts on vulnerability and what it means to be brave.

Favourite quote: I have two, both by Brene Brown -

“I want to be in the arena. I want to be brave with my life. And when we make the choice to dare greatly, we sign up to get our asses kicked. We can choose courage or we can choose comfort, but we can’t have both. Not at the same time.” and

“Let go of who you think you’re supposed to be; embrace who you are.”

Most afraid of: Not being good enough.

Go to for fun or to let your hair down: The beach or a night out dancing!




Thrivher Survivor Moves



Looking back, what were the defining moments that formed the career you are living today?

As a child, Lego was always my thing, I loved building things and creating places. I’ve always been fascinated by geography and I think it’s that background that led to my love of urban planning and cities. I studied Human Geography and Sociology at University and that was how my passion evolved – I don’t think there was one moment where I decided this was what I wanted to do.


My career has been a meandering journey and that has allowed me to explore other areas of my field and to expand what I do. I feel a bit like a collector of ideas - I take them on and apply them one way and then I develop them further. I’m constantly refining what I do and how I approach both in terms of professional and personal development and it has been a wonderful way, and sometimes surprising to discover what I’m passionate about.


Politics has always fascinated me – I was a member of the Australian Democrats at university. I think this fascination is maybe a bit idealistic, but its important because politics, at all levels, has such an important role to play in the lives of everyone. Politicians who inspire people can make such significant, positive changes and alternatively those whose decisions are guided by anything but the wellbeing of people and in the public interest can be incredibility damaging. To my mind, this is very much the same in terms of the decision making about planning and therefore, understanding the politics fit very well together.



What experiences have influenced your career path the most?

I love visiting cities in other countries and just experiencing the everyday life. But equally I love getting out with my camera and do a bit of urban exploring in my backyard. Living overseas, being a curious cat and reading a lot of books about cities continues to opens my eyes to doing things differently and the importance of diversity. That’s one of the reasons why I love Sydney so much, because it is culturally so diverse.


For me, being a Planner isn’t just about the physical elements, the structures or the buildings. Of course, I love design and architecture, but they are just structuring elements to a city. What is far more important to me is how those structures influence people’s experience in the city and what happens in the spaces in between. That’s what gets me excited.


Humans are complex and therefore cities are complex ecosystems, so if someone is suggesting a one-size-fits-all they clearly don’t understand the issue. There is no silver bullet to meeting the challenges we are facing, like affordable housing or intergeneration equity or climate change, only multi-faceted solutions that require a cooperative approach involving different levels of government, community, and business. That’s the ideal.