My career began at a nice retail practice “Picton Jones” on the 21st floor of the Rotunda, which at the time was at the far end of New Street.
Now, following redevelopment of the Bull Ring, its location is perceived very differently. I started working at GVA in 1986 and hence have over 32 years’ experience here. I started as a Graduate Surveyor and have always promised to leave when there are no more challenging opportunities left at GVA; and I’m still here. I have had a huge variety of roles over the years so I have always felt my career has been varied despite being employed by GVA for so long. I have in the past been head of the National Markets Team, spent 10 years from 2008 to 2018 as National Head of Offices and more recently was appointed as Regional Senior Director (or head of ) the Midlands Office for GVA. The reason that GVA is such an enjoyable place to work is the huge amount of talent that enables multi-disciplinary teams to be brought together, providing advice to clients that really need a suite of our services. We have gone beyond straight forward collaboration to true convergence.
There have been several highlights of my career so far and I am very proud to have been involved in some of the most interesting developments in the Midlands area but the most memorable are those where we have had a tremendous outcome for the client. This includes all the work over a 20 year period that saw us contract over 2 million sq ft of Office and Research development at Birmingham Business Park, a scheme that defined my early career, as well as leading the GVA team that undertook all of the property due diligence for Birmingham City Council in their sale of the NEC Group Ltd. This was a huge assignment that required input from most of the Birmingham Office’s Business Units and included probably the largest single building survey undertaken in the Midlands.
The advice I’d give to people starting out their career in property is to not think that anyone who has been in this industry longer than you is necessarily wiser or better than you. Without being arrogant, do believe that you can truly add value. Challenge everything and keep your self-belief.
The current property outlook is a very mixed. The needs for occupiers to upgrade their accommodation incorporate flexible and agile working patterns and the “war for talent” are leading to exceptional levels of demand for quality accommodation; but the fragility of the UK’s economy (short term outlook) provides huge uncertainty and this is holding back mid-range requirements. Similarly the wall of international capital and the perception of the UK as a long term safe haven are underpinning, or overcoming other economic factors which would otherwise suggest a very benign environment.
The built environment is incredibly important to the people that live within it. It’s not just living in a safe, comfortable and quality environment. It’s about working, being taught, walking through, participating and enjoying the environment – and not least feeling safe within it. Public realm across a town or city is enormously influential and important on how we perceive the experiences throughout our daily lives.