Our Places Build People: Chris Whetstone

The places we build, live, work and play within shape our lives just as much as we shape them. In this series we shine a spotlight on GVA team members and find out about how property and places have shaped our team and their thoughts on places within the UK.

Type Perspective

Date 16/09/2018

In 1998, I was very lucky to have found school work experience within GVA’s London Building Consultancy team. I spent time shadowing surveyors undertaking dilapidations and site visits including student housing, London offices and the Ralph Lauren building.

Most of my time was spent taking photographs and attending meetings, but I also have a clear memory of helping to design an office bathroom.

However, it wasn’t until in October 2010 that I started work as a non-rotational graduate in GVA’s Sustainability team. My boss at the time was Miles Keeping, now founder and Director of the consultancy Hillbreak. My first project was to help co-author the Better Building’s Partnerships Managing Agents Sustainability Toolkit. Since then, I have progressed through the roles of Assistant Sustainability Consultant, Sustainable Operations Consultant and) Corporate Responsibility Manager to the position I hold now as an Associate.

I am currently responsible for ensuring GVA makes progress in its commitment to becoming a more sustainable and socially responsible company. A core aspect of this involves embedding sustainable working practices, building healthy work environments and overseeing the day to day management of GVA’s Environmental Management System (EMS). I am part of GVA’s in-house Sustainability team, which is responsible for providing clients with services relating to sustainability strategy, reporting, implementation and intervention, as well as manage GVA’s operational sustainability strategy.

Places need purpose more than ever. Today the value of buildings are much more than bricks and mortar, the value is based on who uses them and purpose the buildings serve. As a committed environmentalist, I think the most valuable buildings are those that are the most sustainable and have owners and occupants who strongly believe in responsible property management and occupation. I believe the buildings which have a low carbon footprint, ensure the health of its occupants and have strong community connections have the most value and will be strongest assets in the future. All the world is interconnected. Life doesn’t have boundaries or walls. Society is based on a system of co-living and sharing which requires the built environment to help create space which connects us.

Highlights of my career so far include working at and undertaking management training at The Grand, Brighton Hotel, co-authoring the Better Building’s Partnerships Managing Agents Sustainability Toolkit, and leading GVA in fundraising and donating over £250,000 to two national charity partners Togetherfor Short Lives and the Alzheimer’s Society since taking charge of GVA’s charity and community activities in July 2014.

Advice I would give to people starting out in their career would be to find a role in property that allows you to fulfil your passion and one which matches your values. The sector is so broad and varied, there almost endless career possibilities. Don’t be afraid to take ownership or responsibility early on, the sector rewards people who show passion and drive. There is always time to give back to the communities you work with, whether that’s fundraising, volunteering or donating your skills pro bono. I run a local youth club and advise my local church on environmental matters in my free time.