Tuesday 12 November 2019
Having recently relocated to London, and wanting to meet fellow real estate professionals and get up to speed on the London property market, I joined Women in Property and was a last minute attendee to the London Property Seminar at Crowe’s offices, and how glad I am fate brought me here.
The seminar started with feedback from Crowe on their annual survey of the property market, presented by Stacy Eden (Head of Property & Construction at Crowe), and highlighted (among other things) the uncertainty of the current political climate. The survey results were hotly debated at the post seminar drinks where it seemed the general consensus was that sustainability should have been much higher up on the list of pressing issues for property developers.
Stacy was followed by Melanie Leech from BPF who focused her discussion on people and how we move industry forward and attract new talent. It was interesting to hear the political theme run through again as we look toward a general election and how government policy can make or break investor confidence. For me, the sentence I took away with me was Melanie’s description of our tenants, clients and users of space as customers and how we need to refocus on being a customer centric field. I’m particularly cliched in that I am honestly passionate about this, we create spaces for people. Places for people to live, work and play and if the space doesn’t make the customer happy, then the whole house of cards falls down, vacancies rise and businesses do badly.
The final speaker of the evening was Sandi Rhys Jones whose talk left me with three main themes; 1 - people and how we are a people centric business; 2 – how do we attract new, young and diverse talent to a business that doesn’t currently hold the confidence of the general public and 3 – Women in Property are changing the landscape and rather than trying to attract new talent perhaps we also need to look at retaining the talent we have and embracing agile working. Interesting for me that she mentioned agile working and not flexible working, as agile working is something developers are wary of, less office space = less rental returns. Just like retail is finding, offices will need to adapt to be points of destination. I digress with my own view points mingled in with Sandi’s talk! Post the speeches it was interesting to see that Sandi’s manner and way of pushing boundaries had not only inspired me but many of my colleagues too.
As this was my first Women in Property event, I wasn’t sure what to expect from the post seminar networking, and having been to many of these previously, they can be cliquey and cold. I was pleasantly surprised to find the women forthcoming, chatty and eager to share experiences and thoughts on real estate nuances. It was such an honour to be included in a room with these dynamic women, I will definitely be attending again!
Sinead Fox, South East Member of Women in Property