In 1991, I left the University of Birmingham with a degree in Accounting & Finance under my arm. When you have a degree in a discipline like this, it seems pretty obvious what sort of career path you’re going to take, writes John Tatham of GVA.
So off I went to my first ‘proper’ job, in corporate finance at PWC. Little did I know at this point, that a transaction to float a pub company for a client would end up being a real game-changer for me and would ultimately lead to me being involved in some of the most amazing community regeneration projects in the UK.
After a whirlwind time at PWC, I took a role at Thorntons Chocolates, first as part of the internal audit team (which I’m sure you expected) but then later as part of the retail team, dipping my first toe into the property world by expanding the number of stores and later developing the café Thorntons concept.
You might think this was ‘the moment I knew’ that property was for me, but no. I then decided to take a completely unexpected sideways step into the very enjoyable world of chocolate tasting, becoming part of the official Thorntons chocolate tasting team when the operation moved from Belgium to my home town of Derby. And my tasting career didn’t end there; my next move was to Bass Brewers where beer tasting became part of my career path. Once I had my fill of beer tasting, it was time to look for a new challenge.
The chairman of the East Midlands Development Agency, who also just so happened to be the founder of the pub company I helped to float on the stock exchange at PWC, invited me to join the team. This was the moment I knew… I became finance director, responsible for corporate ventures including property. Here I set up the Blueprint joint venture to deliver regeneration projects in East Midlands and I also chaired the board. Then the property snowball effect kicked in. My work at Blueprint led to me joining the UK’s leading responsible real estate businesses, Igloo, as finance director, where I worked with investors, communities, local authorities and landowners on some fantastic regeneration projects like Porth Teigr in Cardiff, Bermondsey Square in London and some really innovative housing delivery across Newcastle, Nottingham and Glasgow. My experience of working with public private partnerships in particular, paved the way for my current role as senior director at the UK’s most diverse real estate advisory businesses, GVA.
Who knew, at that moment when I left university, what was about to happen? Although accountancy and finance has always been at the heart of my various career choices (well, maybe except for the ‘tasting years’), I was obviously ultimately destined for a life in property and I’m happy in this world. There’s a lot that the sector can offer, something that we now need to pass on to apprentices and graduates looking for their next big challenge.