I’ve got mis-information, bad-timing and a lack of funding to thank for the colourful set of events that led me to start in property, writes Ian Scott of Lambert Smith Hampton.
As a teenager I wanted to be a physicist, something that an ill-informed careers teacher put paid to. Studying physics to A-level, I thought taking a degree in that subject would be a done deal, but no-one told me I needed a maths A-level and so my plans quickly fell flat.
With the rest of my friends all set for a career in science, I took the news with my usual defiance and entrepreneurial determination and decided to try a less-educational route – I applied to NASA’s apprentice astronaut programme. Plenty of people laughed but plenty more gasped when I got through the first three rounds of the application process, alas it wasn’t to be and so I turned my attentions to my other great love, rugby refereeing.
Having officiated my first Super League game in 2012, the RFL offered to put me through a Sports Science degree and give me a job, however the deal quickly fell apart as their funding was withdrawn. With yet another set-back, I began to consider a career in property.
A family member had lost their house in the recession and so conversation regularly turned to property at home. I made it my business to understand what was happening and it piqued my interest as a university subject. It was almost undone though when the UCAS blurb seemed to focus more on estate agency. It’s only when I read on and saw mention of commercial property, valuations, economics and property law that it got me hooked.
Typically, the RFL came back to me the day before I was due to start my Real Estate course at Sheffield and put the refereeing deal back on the table. I have to be honest, the lure of the RFL did win and I tried to change my course to Sports Science, but as it was the last year before the fee increase, all courses were fully subscribed. That was it, decision made – it was to be a career in property.
It might sound like I wanted to do anything other than property, but by week two of the university course I knew. It was then that I realised I’d found a subject that was complex and challenging and that I was good at. I quickly got to grips with valuation and law and found a love of building design and development, surrounded by like-minded people.
Now, as the head of build-to-rent for Lambert Smith Hampton I have made it my business to embrace all opportunities and say ‘yes’ as much as possible. The first of which was when I was asked to head the BtR team. Buoyed up from having worked on sizeable BtR deals in the immediate months prior I was confident enough to say yes. Combined with Lambert Smith Hampton’s young leaders programme which helped to give me more rounded business skills, I have never looked back. The fast paced, deal-making nature of property gives me the buzz that my younger-self was always seeking.
The property industry faces a crisis though. We’re finding it hard to recruit because property isn’t an obvious career choice. We need to do more to educate the educators and to help students consider this route. If you’re 18, property and surveying probably conjures up images of building defects rather than handling high-value, high-profile transactions. When a rent review surveyor nails down a rent at the right level they’ve done a deal. A surveyor managing a dilapidation claim and saving a landlord millions of pounds is doing a deal. This career is all about capital and managing client’s investments. Property needs an image make-over because the graduates we want are pursuing business or law, and not even giving us a second glance.
- Throughout August Place North West will be exploring the issue of skills and access routes into the regeneration sector. Asking professionals to remember “the moment they knew” the industry was for them reveals ways we can tap into and inspire a new generation to make a move into property. Want to contribute? Email firstname.lastname@example.org with your suggestions.