In our Christmas series, Place North West asks Caroline Baker, partner and head of the North at consultancy Cushman & Wakefield, about her youth as a member of the Brownies and why her favourite building is the Guggenheim New York.
Why did you choose a career in property/placemaking?
Seeing the regeneration of Liverpool in the 1980s – especially Albert Dock and the Garden Festival Site – I was inspired to follow a career that sought to improve places.
Who was your mentor and what was the best piece of advice they gave you?
I’ve never had a formal mentor but my first couple of bosses were strong women who inspired me to strive to succeed.
What building or project do you wish you’d delivered?
The Guggenheim in New York, with its great location and amazing design that beautifully showcases the art.
What key lesson have you learned from 2020 and the pandemic?
The importance of a great team. I already knew it, but 2020 has definitely reinforced how important working with a great team is in getting the job done and enjoying doing it.
What was your lockdown hobby? Did you get ‘Covid-fit’ or gain the ‘Covid stone’?
I’m lucky to have a spare room I have been able to hide away in and, for once, relieved to have teenagers, which meant I didn’t have to balance work with home schooling! I was getting Covid-fit until the hours in the spare room took their toll on a historic back problem – then I ended up hobbling about for my daily exercise.
Are you a rebel or a conformist?
Definitely a conformist. I put it down to being a Brownie.
What keeps you awake at night?
Not much I’m usually so exhausted from balancing my work commitments and running around after two teenage daughters that I fall straight to sleep as soon as my head hits the pillow.
What’s your proudest achievement?
Getting into Cambridge University as a Northern girl from a comprehensive school.
What’s your top wish for 2021?
To be able to socialise with friends and family again.
What was the best book you read this year?
Any Human Heart by William Boyd. It’s a journal describing the ups and downs of one man’s journey through the 20th century.
If you hadn’t gone into property, what would you have done?
A detective, but I’m not sure I would have been very good at dealing with the more gruesome crimes.
Of your own projects next year, which are you most excited about?
I’ve been busy in 2020 working on a number of Future High Street Fund and Town Deal bids and am really excited to see how the towns will be transformed by public sector investment focused on reshaping places.
What trend do you believe will have the most profound impact on the placemaking industry in 2021?
How we better embrace the green agenda in all aspects of our lives.