What was your route into property as a career?
Where to start! Right through High School and University I had always wanted to enter the Police force. Then I came out of university and realised it wasn’t for me. I fell into financial services but didn’t enjoy the industry or the work. Leading up to the 2008 recession, I made a call to retrain. I had friends who worked in property and it had always been of interest. The industry seemed very social, which was a big draw for me.
Tell us about your work at Cooke & Arkwright.
I work in the Retail & Leisure department, predominantly with Landlord and Tenant matters as well as agency work. I’m mainly dealing with high street and out of town retail, and in leisure with drive-thru’s, bars and some retail development.
Give us an overview of what an average day for you could entail.
Pre Covid19, I was very much a creature of habit. Usually at the gym by 6.00 am for a session, then in the office for 8.00 am feeling alive and ready to go! There is never a typical day as it can vary so much, but it can range from inspecting a property, analysing leases, reporting to client and negotiating with contemporises, to nursing deals over the line and meeting with clients. There’s always something going on.
What’s your favourite part of the job?
The thing I like about the job more than anything is the camaraderie within our industry. When I’ve been in the company of lawyers, they have often commented on how friendly surveyors are with their competitors, and how we even socialise together. That is largely down to the fact that in order to do this job as efficiently and accurately as possible you need to know about other property transactions. It may sound cliché, but it’s about relationships! As a result, we have regular get-togethers, some formally organised, some impromptu. Being naturally gregarious, it’s something I enjoy about the job and there are some real characters across Wales and the South West!
What advice would you give someone starting out in property now?
Graduation is not the end of your learning, keep upskilling! When I started off at Cooke & Arkwright, at a time when the market was very fragile, I found myself working across many different departments. I began in high-end residential sales, then moved across to the Bridgend Office. I started off there managing The Crown Estate’s maritime portfolio (a very enjoyable job, very interesting) and supplemented that with some Land Agency work for Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water. When an older surveyor retired, I picked up his leasehold reversion work. In addition, I was also involved in Welsh Government auctions.
Following a promotion in 2016, I was given the opportunity to move back to the Cardiff office to undertake Landlord and Tenant work, which naturally evolved to include agency work and retail development. I remember thinking at the time that it was a bit frustrating not having one area to really focus on. However, in hindsight, I appreciate that I have developed a very broad skill set, which has served me well and is something I’m now looking to continually develop.
Tell us a bit about your experience of working from home.
Having a very lively toddler charging around has been occasionally challenging, but all in all he’s been great. During our morning comm’s calls my team have become accustomed to Captain America or the Hulk joining us, so that’s been interesting! My son is also a real opportunist. He waits until I’m engaged on a comm’s call before he makes the break to steal frozen yoghurt or fruit.
In all seriousness though, working from home can be incredibly productive and free from distractions etc. I think in the future it will become more prevalent. I do miss everyday interaction with my peers and fellow professionals, and all this monotony of doing so much online shopping has really made me appreciate the high street more (although a cynic would say, I would say that)! I hope following all this the general public feel the same by embracing their town centres more, because if we don’t use them, we’ll lose them. Plus, I miss my barber. I’m done with shaving my own head!
Finally, I hear there are already preparations underway amongst the South Wales and West retail agents to celebrate coming out of all this Covid craziness. Let’s hope it’s not too long. Stay safe all!