Accelerating Careers in Real Estate
Episode 55 - Helen Martin, Managing Director
In this episode, I get to sit down with Helen Martin, a seasoned leader in construction and development, who is now MD of the central region of Wates Construction. A former engineer, Helen has built a career on the fundamentals of honesty, direct communication and ultimately not allowing external forces to dictate her path. In the episode, Helen describes her path from engineer to contractor, turned developer and leader of Skanska's development company to returning to contracting in 2021.
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Contact details Ncarman@macdonaldandcompany.com
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97. Episode 97 - Emma Fletcher, find a role where your passions and job collide45:41This evening, Emma Fletcher, Low Energy Homes Director for Octopus Energy, joins me. Emma began her career in real estate advisory with Bidwells, before moving to a big name in regional housebuilding Hill Group. So how is it that she now finds herself at the cutting edge of policy and sustainability of our utilities? Emma has had a diverse and impactful career journey, from real estate development to agri-tech projects, housing associations, and now into the energy and utilities sector. Here are some key takeaways from the conversation:Passion and Purpose: Emma emphasizes the importance of following one's passions and finding purpose in work. She highlights the need to align personal values and interests with professional endeavours to find fulfilment in one's career.Adaptability and Innovation: Throughout her career transitions, Emma demonstrates adaptability and a willingness to embrace innovation. She discusses the importance of being open to new ideas, technologies, and approaches to problem-solving, particularly in industries undergoing significant change.Leadership and Team Building: Emma's leadership style focuses on fostering collaboration, building cohesive teams, and inspiring others to work towards a shared vision. She emphasizes the importance of creating a sense of community and purpose within organizations to drive success.Resilience and Learning from Setbacks: Emma acknowledges the challenges and setbacks she has faced, such as unsuccessful planning appeals and project rejections. However, she views these experiences as opportunities for personal growth, resilience-building, and learning valuable lessons that she can apply to future endeavours.Community Engagement and Social Impact: Beyond her professional roles, Emma actively engages in community initiatives, such as community land trusts and addressing local issues like access to utilities. She highlights the importance of making a positive impact beyond the workplace and contributing to broader societal goals.Overall, Emma's career journey exemplifies the value of passion, adaptability, resilience, and community engagement in achieving professional success and personal fulfilment. Her insights offer valuable lessons for individuals navigating their own career paths and seeking to make a meaningful difference in their respective fields.
96. Episode 96 - Charlie Baxter, Scaling, Closing and Reinventing but never giving up43:46This evening, I sat with Charlie Baxter, Founder of new venture Moffat Baxter. He shares his journey in real estate, as former Managing Director and Co-Founder of Alchemi Group a big name in design-led residential development in central London. Despite building this business over 20 years, including managing a portfolio worth £1.4bn, someone has closed this business. We catch him now at the precipice of starting a whole new venture focused on Sustainability benefitting from his early efforts in being a considerate London developer. You can join in the discussion using our LinkedIn group: https://www.linkedin.com/groups/9054319/Please keep your questions and voicenotes coming. It is best to contact me on LinkedIn."Listening to my intuition... has always guided me in the right direction."Charlie recounts his real estate journey, from smaller projects to larger-scale developments as Alchemi Group grew to one of the names best associated with high-value design-led homes in the capital. Charlie emphasises mentorship's role and navigating challenges like economic downturns and contractor issues. He highlights his commitment to environmental sustainability, transitioning to retrofitting with his new venture Moffitt Baxter. Throughout, he stresses adaptability, resilience, and integrity, crediting intuition and gratitude for his success.
95. Episode 95 - Michael Morris, Chief Executive at Picton33:28This evening, I am joined by Michael Morris, CEO of Picton, a commercial UK REIT with more than £750 million diversified UK commercial property portfolio, invested across 49 assets and with around 400 occupiers. A REIT who have outperformed MSCI since their launch. You can join in the discussion using our LinkedIn group: https://www.linkedin.com/groups/9054319/Please keep your questions and voicenotes coming. It is best to contact me on LinkedIn.The key chapters in our conversation:1. Exploration and Career Shift:• Initially considered the RAF and civil engineering but shifted focus to the financial and managerial aspects of real estate.• Completed a civil engineering degree but later pursued a master's in real estate.2. Financial Crisis Challenges:• Played a pivotal role in managing a significant portfolio acquisition during the 2007 financial crisis.• Developed resilience and earned investor trust amid challenging market conditions.3. Entrepreneurial Leap and Leadership Style:• Founded an internally managed fund management subsidiary for Picton in 2010, contributing to sustained growth.• Michael's leadership emphasizes having a plan, prioritizing tasks, and staying focused on essential objectives.4. Legacy and Mentoring:• Ambitions evolve with personal and professional growth; Michael aims to positively impact individuals.• Recognizes the importance of mentoring, both within and outside the industry, for career and personal development.5. Balancing Career and Personal Legacy:• Stresses the significance of family, friends, and personal legacies beyond professional achievements.6. Continuous Learning and Adaptability:• Highlights the value of continuous learning through additional qualifications and participation in mentoring programs.
94. Episode 94 - Nick Hayes, When you know its time for the next chapter47:33This evening, I am joined by Nick Hayes, Co-Founder and MD of RG Real Estate. Nick joins RG a main contractor with an established track record as construction partner to the living sector, but who now wish to be both developer and delivery partner. Prior to joining RG group Nick led the development, investment and asset management of the Unite portfolio as their Property Director, a portfolio, home for 70,000 students in the UK.You can join in the discussion using our LinkedIn group: https://www.linkedin.com/groups/9054319/Please keep your questions and voicenotes coming. It is best to contact me on LinkedIn.Our conversations covers:1. Seize Opportunities Early: Don't wait for complete readiness before pursuing career advancement. Embrace challenges and new roles to grow and evolve professionally.2. Cultivate Strong Relationships: Building trust and strong relationships with the right people and organizations is crucial for mutual benefit and long-term success in business.3. Prioritize Personal Satisfaction: Find work that energizes and interests you. Happiness and fulfillment in your career significantly impact performance and overall life satisfaction.4. Embrace Agility in Business: Consider the potential for growth and innovation in smaller, agile businesses versus larger corporations. Smaller companies can capitalize on opportunities and adapt more swiftly in certain sectors.5. Real Estate Sector Opportunities: Despite challenges in the real estate sector, particularly for large corporations, there is potential for tremendous growth, especially in smaller, more adaptable companies. The future might involve significant changes and M&A activities.
93. Episode 93 - Richard Servidei and Matt Neal Co-Founders of AREA36:11This evening, I am joined by not one but two guests: Matthew Neal and Richard Servidei founders of Alternative Real Estate Advisors (AREA). A leading independent firm of commercial real estate advisors specialising in the alternative property sectors.You can join in the discussion using our LinkedIn group: https://www.linkedin.com/groups/9054319/Please keep your questions and voicenotes coming. It is best to contact me on LinkedIn.Key takeaways from the combined conversation between Nick Carman, Matthew Neal, and Richard Servidei:1. Origins of Entrepreneurship: Matthew Neal was content working for a salary until Richard pitched the idea of working together. Richard, on the other hand, developed a passion for entrepreneurship in his mid-thirties when he realized his love for his job and the desire to create a business that implemented positive practices.2. Founding AREA: AREA was conceived when Richard seized the opportunity at a mutual friend's wedding to pitch the idea to Matthew's wife about their partnership potential. Matthew was attracted to the prospect of providing more nuanced, bespoke advice rather than just standard market data.3. Realities of Entrepreneurship: Running AREA proved to be challenging and demanded versatility. They faced unexpected tasks like HR, finance, and even menial tasks like fetching milk for the office. They found themselves wearing multiple hats and learned to navigate the uncertainties that come with running a business.4. Emphasis on People and Culture: The founders emphasized the importance of their team and nurturing a positive workplace culture. They believed that a thriving team translates to a successful business. They fostered an environment where people wanted to come into the office, focusing on collective success rather than treating employees as cogs in a machine.5. Challenges and Future Outlook: AREA has established itself as a provider of high-quality advice but aims to expand its expertise across various alternative sectors. They seek to become known as the best across all alternative sector workstreams. Richard looks forward to the opportunities that will arise and sees value in being adaptable to new ideas that push the business forward.6. Continuous Evolution: Both founders embrace the unknown and anticipate that challenges will arise. They value the ability to adapt and evolve, believing that each challenge brings new opportunities for growth and development.7. Success in Independence: The journey of two individuals who had the idea of entrepreneurship and transformed it into a successful venture intrigued the audience, highlighting the significance of individual initiatives and success stories.Overall, the conversation showcased the challenges, triumphs, and ongoing aspirations of the founders in creating and developing AREA, emphasizing adaptability, teamwork, and a forward-thinking approach to succeed in the world of entrepreneurship.
92. Episode 92 - Matt Walker, CEO Student Housing, Mapletree Investment43:08This evening, I am joined by Matt Walker, CEO for Student Housing UK Portfolio on behalf of Singaporean Global Asset Manager Mapletree. Matt originally from Oklahoma, has risen through the ranks of residential operations in the States, South America and the UK. And we catch him as he is just settling in to his most recent role and employer. You can join in the discussion using our LinkedIn group: https://www.linkedin.com/groups/9054319/Please keep your questions and voicenotes coming. It is best to contact me on LinkedIn.Matt Walker discusses his career journey, starting from his early years in Oklahoma to his current role as the CEO of Student Accommodation with Mapletree. Emphasises taking less travelled paths, stepping away from safety and security, and betting on oneself at key milestones in his career.Career Path & Decision-Making· Highlights the importance of leaving an organization respectfully, avoiding burning bridges, and maintaining relationships. · Talks about taking risks and the confidence derived from knowing that learned skills can be applied elsewhere if things go wrong.· Emphasizes the significance of having a backup plan, staying grounded, and considering the worst-case scenario in career decisions.Strengths & Strategic Thinking· Discusses feedback received about his strengths, particularly focusing on relentless drive, strategic thinking, and remaining calm under pressure.· Stresses that there wasn't a master plan but an acceptance of ambiguity and opportunities that led to growth.· Shares insights about seizing opportunities in the moment and having a flexible, strategic approach to career choices.Current Role & Change· Talks about joining Maple Tree, a Singapore-based organization, and becoming the CEO of their global student housing business, expanding into multiple continents.Task Management & Focus· Reflects on feedback about being extremely driven, focused, and efficient in completing tasks without procrastination.· Discusses personality traits inherited from family and learning to be efficient while balancing tactical and strategic work.· Emphasizes the importance of decision-making speed and avoiding getting bogged down by tactical details in a fast-paced industry.Creating Work-Life Balance· Acknowledges past challenges in achieving work-life balance but shares learned strategies.· Encourages accepting personal growth, setting clear boundaries, and finding ways to disconnect from work after hours.· Advises creating psychological comfort with being offline and employing practical tricks to separate work and personal life.
91. Episode 91 - David Kosky, Co Founder of Work.Life40:51This evening, I am joined by David Kosky, Co-Founder of Co-Working business Work.Life. Co-Founders David and Elliot started Work.Life in 2015 because they believe everyone should feel happy in their work lives. Now, Work.Life is made up of 15 coworking spaces with 19 projected by the end of the year, and over 6,000 members.You can join in the discussion using our LinkedIn group: https://www.linkedin.com/groups/9054319/Please keep your questions and voicenotes coming. It is best to contact me on LinkedIn.During the conversation, David delivered key insight into several topics including:1. Evolution of Coworking Spaces: He discussed how the concept of coworking spaces has evolved over the years, from being a tough market to a more institutionalized and accepted asset class. The sector has seen significant growth and investment from big landlords and institutional money.2. Trusting Instincts: David emphasised the importance of trusting one's instincts, especially when faced with scepticism from others. Despite warnings and doubts from experienced individuals in the real estate industry, he and his co-founder, Elliot, trusted their instincts and pursued their vision.3. Complimentary Skill Sets: David highlighted the importance of having a co-founder with complementary skills. His focus was more on business development and growth, while Elliot excelled in detail orientation, team-building, and management.4. Challenges in Running a Business: David acknowledged the challenges of running one's own business, from starting small and doing everything themselves to scaling up and building a team. He mentioned that persistence, positivity, and creative problem-solving are crucial in navigating the ups and downs of entrepreneurship.5. WeWork's Impact on the Industry: David recognized WeWork's significant impact on pushing the coworking industry forward but also highlighted the challenges WeWork faced due to rapid expansion and shaky real estate foundations. Despite WeWork's issues, David expressed confidence in the long-term trajectory of the coworking sector beyond WeWork's influence.6. Dealing with Setbacks: When asked about recovering from setbacks, David emphasized the importance of not taking setbacks personally, compartmentalizing work from personal life, and focusing on problem-solving and learning from mistakes.7. Encouragement for Entrepreneurs: David encouraged individuals interested in entrepreneurship, particularly in the real estate sector, highlighting the opportunities for innovation and disruption in this market.
90. Episode 90 - Emma Osmundsen, CEO Sixty Bricks40:06This evening, I am joined by Emma Osmundsen, CEO of Sixty Bricks. Emma was appointed as its Chief Executive in January 2023, having joined Sixty Bricks from Exeter City Living. Raised in Wales with Norwegian roots, Emma has more than 25 years in the construction industry and is one of the leading global voices in the development and delivery of low-energy, healthy and climate resilient homes and buildings.You can join in the discussion using our LinkedIn group: https://www.linkedin.com/groups/9054319/Please keep your questions and voicenotes coming. It is best to contact me on LinkedInEmma's journey underscores the significance of perseverance, finding purpose, and prioritizing the impact of one's work on communities while facing personal and professional challenges.1. Passion for Innovation: Emma's drive and energy fueled her ambition to push boundaries, delivering groundbreaking projects like the world's first Passive House, Climate Ready, Building Biology Compliant Leisure Centre.2. Challenges as a Pioneer: As a disruptor in her field, Emma faced resistance and discomfort from those not aligned with her vision. Achieving recognition and success sometimes led to jealousy and insecurities among peers.3. Transitioning to New Challenges: Despite her significant achievements in Exeter, Emma felt the need for a change. She sought a new challenge and ultimately joined Sixty Bricks, driven by the desire for a fresh start and new ambitions.4. Ambitions in New Role: Emma aims to scale up innovative housing solutions, making them accessible and equitable across social and private housing sectors. Her goal is to demonstrate that building better homes is feasible and financially viable.5. Navigating Public Sector Challenges: Running a local authority development company presents hurdles like bureaucratic processes, differing risk appetites, and aligning shareholder ambitions. Emma believes these companies are part of the solution to housing crises but require better understanding and alignment with the public sector.6. Finding Purpose and Resilience: Emma emphasizes the importance of discovering one's purpose. Her personal battle with cancer reinforced her belief that being in a supportive environment allows individuals to navigate challenges, contributing positively to the workplace.
89. Episode 89 - Paul Clark, Head of European Property, AustralianSuper49:05This evening, I am joined by Paul Clark, Head of European Property for AustralianSuper. AustralianSuper manages £125bn of assets under management, and has made prolific investments in the UK development including Related Argent’s Kings Cross and British Land’s Canada Water. Prior to joining AustralianSuper Paul was the Chief Investment Officer for The Crown Estate and held the reins for the 8.5bn portfolio of the Church Commissioners. You can join in the discussion using our LinkedIn group: https://www.linkedin.com/groups/9054319/Please keep your questions and voicenotes coming. It is best to contact me on LinkedInThese takeaways reflect the key themes and insights shared by Paul Clark in the podcast, offering valuable lessons for leadership and success in the real estate sector and beyond:1. Purpose and Values-Driven Leadership: Paul emphasises the importance of working in organisations that have a clear sense of purpose and are values-led. It's essential to align your personal values with the values of the organization you work for.2. Team Management: Leadership involves being authentic, showing interest in people, and building trust. Maintain transparency, accountability, and encourage an open and honest environment within your team.3. Business Focus: When leading a team or organisation, it's crucial to maintain clarity in your strategy and purpose. This helps in decision-making, goal setting, and creating a cohesive vision for the team.4. Focus on Excellence: In real estate and business in general, focus on doing a few things exceptionally well. Specialisation and in-depth expertise in specific sectors or geographies can provide a competitive advantage.5. Cultural Alignment: When engaging in joint ventures or partnerships, cultural alignment between organisations is a critical factor for success. Ensuring that both parties have a similar long-term perspective and values can lead to productive collaborations.6. Consistency and Honesty: Leaders should be consistent in their messaging and actions. Honesty and clarity are essential, and it's crucial to say what you genuinely believe while being respectful in communication.7. Adaptation and Continual Learning: Throughout Paul's career, he highlighted the importance of adaptation and learning. When taking on new roles or challenges, be open to learning and evolving to meet new demands and environments.