11 Nov 2021 | Property Needs You
Young people can change how we exist in the future with a career in property is the message as a new website launches to encourage young people to consider careers in the property sector. The redesigned Property Needs You website is aimed at a new generation of young people, and provides inspiration for the wide range of career choices in the property sector.
Property Needs You is a brand developed by Changing The Face of Property, an initiative run by a group of the major property firms with the goal of creating greater diversity and inclusion in the industry.
Kelly Canterford is the programme manager at Changing The Face of Property:
“Our new website reflects the wider work we’re doing as an organisation. In the past, the property industry has drawn talent from a certain pool, primarily privately educated individuals from Russell Group Universities. It’s our mission to increase the junior pipeline with diversity across gender, disability, race and socioeconomics and part of that is helping young people, teachers and parents to see the variety of career choices in property, from research and surveying to compliance and sustainability.
“Homes, warehouses, office spaces and rural environments; every aspect of our world is touched by property professionals. The opportunity to influence infrastructure and positively impact communities is extremely exciting. With a career in property, young people can change how we exist in the future.”
The new Property Needs You website features greater focus on the range of routes into property, including apprenticeships, and property career opportunities available across the UK, in both city and rural communities.- Kelly Canterford
“An intuitive career quiz helps young people to figure out what property careers could be suited to their personality and skills, with smart technology enabling dual results.”
Puneet Vedhera is a building surveyor working for Knight Frank and says the more information young people can have about careers in property, the better:
“My interest in property first came about through architecture. My Indian parents were keen for me to have a profession and it was actually my dad who suggested the idea of surveying after engaging a surveyor to work on one of his properties. I was born in Newcastle and studied at Northumbria University, with a year on placement at Newcastle University Estates Department.”
“I joined Drivers Jonas straight from university, who later merged with Deloitte. It was certainly a male dominated, white middle class environment and I was one of the only Northerners. I never saw it as an issue or came across any problems but even in the relatively short time I’ve been in the property industry, it has already changed. Knight Frank is an inclusive employer and committed to diversity and inclusion, there are a number of female surveyors in my department for example.
“It was my interest in becoming Chartered that was the catalyst for my move to Knight Frank, and I passed the necessary exams within 6 months. Even though I did move to London to work for Knight Frank, I don’t believe you have to be based in London to have a successful career in property. When I was in Newcastle I built a great network through the RICS, chaired the RICS Matrics group, became an ambassador for Newcastle Gateshead Council and progressed to associate partner level. The projects on offer with Deloitte in Newcastle were amazing too, London just presented a new challenge for me.
“One of the best things about a career in the property sector is how varied the work is, from residential jobs and offices to retail space and refurbishments, you might be working alongside management consultants or mergers and acquisitions professionals. Building surveying is incredibly expansive, and the learning is continual. People also don’t realise how relationship-based surveying is, and how much networking is involved too.
“The more information young people can have about property careers the better so they can understand what the different roles are within the industry and what they involve. This certainly would have helped me when I was applying to university. I enjoy my role as a surveyor, but there are aspects of other roles that I find very interesting too. When you start looking into it, there are probably a number of property roles that you wouldn’t necessarily have considered, such as estates management.”
Kevin Watson is a partner at Gerald Eve and says property careers give young people the opportunity to get involved in a range of exciting projects, and ensure sustainability is a key priority:
“Gerald Eve was approached at the back end of 2017 about a major transformation of the Olympia exhibition centre in London. Yoo Capital bought the site with the idea that it would be a conference venue but there was also the opportunity to make Olympia better and more competitive in the market. It was a big site with lots of exhibition space but had just one restaurant for example, which was in stark contrast to European exhibition centres that offered a better overall customer experience. As planning consultants, Gerald Eve put together the planning strategy that considered complementary uses, including arts and culture, community use and office space.
“One of the main initial tasks was working with the council to bring them on board with the vision that Olympia could be improved for the betterment of the Borough, putting Olympia on the map. We worked closely with the architects on the designs. A lot of the discussions concerned the fact that some of the buildings at Olympia are Grade II listed, and plans were modified to maintain the heritage aspect of Olympia. Traffic and transport was another key consideration. Local residents had to deal with site delivery traffic from the existing centre and were worried that development of Olympia could increase traffic. We solved this by adding a basement logistics centre.
“There were many months of discussion involving the council, the community and key organisations. My role was leading those discussions and ensuring everyone was comfortable. The planning application was formally submitted in September 2019 which went to the planning committee in January 2020 with permission issued in October 2020. Often, that’s the end of project involvement for a planning consultant, but with Olympia we have continued to work with the design team, with a change of focus from planning to building, such as the 100 plus planning conditions that had to be met before construction could begin.
There is a misconception that planning just deals with consent but that is not the case at all.
“The Olympia project is now underway and continues to evolve, including the potential for one of the buildings earmarked as an office to become a school. Our main role now is responding to issues that arise to minimise the impact on construction, and this part of the project is just as exciting as the planning side.”
“I had no idea what I wanted to do when I was at school. I did A levels in maths, geography and business, then a degree in geography to give me flexibility. In my second year, I did a module in town planning and found it interesting. After university, I wrote to a number of firms. John Littman gave me my first job and the firm paid for me to do my postgraduate degree in town planning.
“In town planning, every day is different and no project is the same. The three main skills you need as a planner are organisational ability, technical knowledge which you develop through study, and communication skills. The last one is often underestimated but you need to be able to negotiate and explain to be successful.
“Young people shouldn’t be put off by the term ‘town planning’ as it’s far more than that. It’s about regeneration, involvement in high profile building projects that you often see in the news, and sustainability. The sustainability agenda didn’t exist when I started in planning in 2001 but over the past 5 years, it has become one of the most important considerations in a project not only to meet certain objectives but because the green agenda is vital for clients too. As a planner, young people have the opportunity to influence projects and ensure clients are taking sustainability into account. There’s no better feeling than seeing a net zero project you’ve worked on come to life.”
The new Property Needs You website also features success stories, engaging video content, fun facts and tips. Resources for teachers and parents have also been developed, including lesson plans, brochures, videos, plus the ability for schools to book a Property Needs You ambassador to attend an event.