Place North West hears from Chris Oglesby, chief executive of developer Bruntwood, about starting his career working on construction sites and his favourite art purchase.
Why did you choose a career in property/placemaking?
It’s in the blood – I grew up working on Dad’s building sites in my holidays.
Who was your mentor and what was the best piece of advice they gave you?
My Dad, who said always be your authentic self (although I also love the JB Priestley quote: “Be yourself is about the worst advice you can give some people”!)
What building or project do you wish you’d delivered?
Noma in 2010 as a joint venture with the Co-op – there was such great brand and values alignment.
What key lesson have you learned from 2020 and the pandemic?
The damage that isolation causes to people’s mental health.
What was your lockdown hobby? Did you get ‘Covid-fit’ or gain the ‘Covid stone’?
I lost 16lbs in the two weeks that I actually had Covid in March, although that was cheating. Training outdoors with Ben and the team at Form has kept me sane.
Spend or save? What’s your most extravagant purchase, and what are you saving up for?
A stunning Paul Kenton painting of Paris from Castle Fine Art on King Street. And I’m saving up for getting out into our fabulous bars, restaurants and venues as soon as restrictions are lifted.
Are you a rebel or a conformist?
A rebel that needs sensible rules to stop me going off the rails.
What keeps you awake at night?
A polarised world.
What’s your proudest achievement?
Our culture at Bruntwood.
What’s your biggest regret?
When a great colleague leaves – although I love to see them thrive elsewhere, and even more when they come back to us!
What’s your top wish for 2021?
To get people back in our cities, starting with more than 50% of people working from their offices in January.
What was the best book you read this year?
Rebel Ideas by Matthew Syed. It’s a brilliant explanation of the importance of diversity.
If you hadn’t gone into property, what would you have done?
Hospitality. I live for human interaction and at my heart I love to host.
Of your own projects next year, which are you most excited about?
In Greater Manchester, Bloc, Base and Citylabs 4.0 at MSP, our healthcare projects with Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust, Altrincham and Stretford town centres, and in Liverpool The Plaza and Sciontec.
What trend do you believe will have the most profound impact on the placemaking industry in 2021?
Engaging communities in all its forms – we create thriving towns and cities by developing places for people.