BPF Futures’ Future Place Shapers event – lessons from industry leaders

29 Jan 2020

What does it take to get to the top in the property industry? The BPF Futures community held its first joint event with Homes England in January alongside Avison Young, meeting at Avison Young’s London office to network, discuss issues relating to diversity, inclusion and social mobility, and receive some invaluable advice from leading industry figures.

The evening included a panel-style discussion with Jason Sibthorpe, Principal and President of Avison Young UK; Helen Gordon, CEO of Grainger Plc and President of the British Property Federation; and Nick Walkley, Chief Executive of Homes England, giving a fascinating insight into their careers in property, their approach to leadership and issues facing the modern workplace.

These are topics that many of us have considered in our day-to-day roles. However, each panel member was able to offer fresh insights from their individual experiences. Some takeaways from the discussion include:

  • Progressing your career – What more do you want out of your career, and why? It is key that you surround yourself with people who support you and help you develop,
  • Mentoring – Find mentors who are one or two steps ahead of you and have time to give advice and support, rather than those at the top of the tree who might not necessarily be able to give you the time you need and are far removed from your day-to-day work. And make sure you provide mentorship and guidance to those coming through the ranks after you, as that helps you to learn and develop as well,
  • Adding value to a meeting when you’re not the most experienced in the room – Always be on top of your brief, do your research beforehand and understand the reasons for you being in the room,
  • Risk and failure – Two out of the three panel members had lost their jobs or been made redundant at some point in their career. It’s good to take risks, even when they don’t seem to pay off. It is not a failure and can lead to other opportunities,
  • Take the opportunities that come with being part of a growing business,
  • Balance is key – Juggling work, family and social life is difficult, so make sure to keep a healthy work life balance,
  • What’s the bigger picture? Consider why you are going to work and what you are trying to achieve in society as a whole. It’s not just about the bottom line,
  • General business acumen is essential knowledge that we should take time to acquire, not just skills directly applicable to the day job.

Another key lesson concerned the importance of being your authentic self and ensuring you are upfront and truthful. To achieve this it is important to maintain your integrity and principles throughout your career, and to manage people in your own style rather than just following others. The panel members all presented great examples of doing just that.

Alex Bonnett is a BPF Futures member and Surveyor at Avison Young.