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Please tell us about yourself

Dipti Mathur-Ghorpade, a planner leader with the Planning and Development Department, collaborates with her colleagues to help solve problems and map changes in this changing city, no matter how hectic things become. Dipti Mathur-Ghorpade is in high demand. Within five minutes, no fewer than five colleagues vied for her attention.

This was one of the busiest days in September for Mathur-Ghorpade, a planner leader in the Planning and Development Department.

The department buzzed with activity as employees prepared for the semi-monthly Planning Commission meeting. Mathur-Ghorpade and her colleagues were recommending a 106-item agenda to the commission.

Winding her way through the hive of workspaces, Mathur-Ghorpade executed a well-rehearsed dance of answering questions, writing reports and preparing PowerPoint presentations for the commission.

“I love the rush of Planning Commission Thursday mornings,” Mathur-Ghorpade said. “You get so much done. I really push myself to my highest level of productivity.”

How did you end up in such an offbeat, unconventional and unusual career?

Mathur-Ghorpade joined the city about seven years ago after earning a master’s degree in urban planning at Texas A&M University — College Station. A native of Surat, India, she came to the United States with a bachelor’s degree in architecture from SCET, Surat, India. Her first glimpse of the U.S. was landing at Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport, but she never imagined she would end up working for the city that welcomed her.

“I actually didn’t like the look of Houston when I first arrived,” she said. “It was all freeways on the drive from the airport to the suburban area where I was staying.  But now I love Houston, and I get really defensive when people say bad things about this city.

What do you love about your job?

“One of the most satisfying aspects of my job is that I get to be part of the decision-making policies that change the face of Houston,” Mathur-Ghorpade said. “I learn about building projects before they break ground, and it makes me feel good to be in the know about my city.”

Back in her office, multicolored intricate webs of intersecting lines that represent Houston’s neighborhoods and major thoroughfares brighten her gray walls.  Her desk and monitor are peppered with maps, which she navigates at a dizzying pace. Easily commanding technology, Mathur-Ghorpade said that she is grateful for the satellite images on Google Earth. Despite the frenzied pace, Mathur-Ghorpade’s effervescent personality never falters, and her infectious laugh carries beyond the walls of her office.

How do you handle your responsibilities of planning a town?

A multitasker, Mathur-Ghorpade had scheduled an orientation on driving the city’s fleet of electric cars. That would have given her about five minutes to get to the commission meeting. She cancelled the orientation. Learning to delegate and not overbook her schedule have been her most significant challenges, Mathur-Ghorpade said.

During the commission meeting, a couple of Mathur-Ghorpade’s projects were deferred until the next meeting. But she delivered her presentation fluidly and eloquently.

It was a long day, but Mathur-Ghorpade is eager to repeat the cycle. The key to job satisfaction, she said, is loving what you do and appreciating your co-workers.

“I am really proud of our team,” she said. “We have great respect for each other, and we all laugh and joke with each other. It’s like a big family. Our director, Marlene Gafrick, is also really supportive and receptive to our suggestions. When you have good people around you, you feel good about coming to work.”

Gafrick returned the compliment, echoing Mathur’s praise about the staff dynamic.

“Dipti comes to work every day with a desire to learn, solve problems and help customers,” Gafrick said. “She is enthusiastic about her job and enjoys working with her co-workers.”