29 Oct 2019
I was recently given the opportunity to do something out of my comfort zone and speak at MIPIM UK as a representative of young people in the property industry.
CREation Property Network and BPF Futures held a collaboration panel, bringing together myself (a member of both networks), CREation members Ola Alade and Katherine Lewis, Melanie Leech of the British Property Federation and Kelly Canterford of Changing the Face of Property, the diversity initiative of Property Needs You.
We discussed diversity, inclusion and collaboration within real estate and how to engage the next generation of talent. This theme was prevalent at MIPIM UK this year, which makes me feel proud to be part of a dynamic and forward-looking industry and excited for what the future generation is going to bring to the table.
I was most interested to take part as I want to help change the stereotypes and perceptions of the property industry. While studying Geography at university, I became particularly interested in urban geography modules, cities, economic and political geographies. But property was not a field I had been exposed to. I wasn’t aware of the range of career options the industry offers and I thought I would not fit in or get a good job anyway, without a foot in the door already.
I would say this perception is a common one. However, every member of our panel came into property through a non-typical route – I stumbled upon planning after meeting someone who worked in local government at a university alumni event. I hoped this was an empowering message to our audience and a sign that the emerging generation of property professionals IS diverse.
Since starting on the graduate scheme at planning consultancy Lichfields a little over a year ago, I have been exposed to a wide array of projects. I liaise with architects, asset managers, property developers, and a variety of other consultants. The multi-disciplinary nature of our work also needs emphasising, especially to school-aged pupils whose knowledge of property may be limited because they just don’t come across planners and surveyors in daily life.
‘Property Needs You’ holds events in schools and universities. Ola, who spoke on the panel, discussed his experience with the Regeneration Brainery – a five-day get-together for school leavers and undergraduates to learn about the different jobs in property, drawing attention to how the sector creates new places and encouraging young people to be a part of it. I am very happy to see great programmes spreading the word to future property professionals in a way that I don’t believe was available when I was at school.
There are also a variety of networking initiatives for early-career professionals too. Networking can be extremely daunting at junior level as it is not something we tend to have much practice of. I have really benefitted from attending events with young professional groups, as you get to meet people in a similar position to yourself. CREation, BPF Futures, Changing the Face of Property and many other organisations have created space in the industry for progressive discussions because young networks often have a more diverse range of people in attendance and are aware of the need to create a more inclusive atmosphere to bolster their community.
They offer a platform for young people from diverse backgrounds and in a variety of job roles to build a strong network now that can be utilised in the future. Because, as the moderator of our panel exclaimed, we all need our cheerleaders!
The last question asked of the panel was what advice we would have given ourselves a few years ago when first starting in property. My response, and my advice to any young property professionals reading this blog, is not to be afraid to speak up if you have an idea or something worth saying. If you are in the right environment, people will support your career growth, offer constructive critique and champion your ideas.
Speaking in public about these topics at MIPIM UK was my way of doing just that.
Georgia Crowley is a Planner at Lichfields