Property is about people and if the industry is to continue to thrive it must continue to attract brains and enthusiasm as well as offer a rewarding and exciting career path.

Rob Thompson is head of real estate London at Irwin Mitchell.

This is why Irwin Mitchell is delighted to have sponsored Property Week’s 40 Under 40 with the winners announced today.

During the rigorous judging process, Property Week consulted with leading industry figures, including its new editorial advisory board, to identify the rising young stars in property. Many have already become key decision-makers in their organisations and by all accounts it was no easy undertaking.

The good news is that there is no dearth of emerging talent in the property world. Several trends reveal the way in which our industry is changing - for the better.

For one, around a quarter of those who made the cut are women, a figure that we would not have come close to 10 years ago.

Walking the walk

Another remarkable feature of the list is its sheer diversity. Representatives from the US, Asia and continental Europe as well as the UK are all playing key roles in the UK’s changing real estate landscape, which reflects just how important a hub the UK has become in the international real estate community.

The breadth of their involvement in property is yet another factor worth noting. We still have the traditional agents of course but we are now seeing niche agencies and breakaways as well as the emergence of a new breed of entrepreneurs who are specialising in fresh and exciting sectors.

40 Under 40

For example, the tech boom has created its own market of real estate specialists around Tech City. London’s housing shortage has led to the creation of companies targeting particular sectors of the residential market. Property Week’s 40 Under 40 list also includes the names of innovative financiers, investors, advisers, public sector workers and even a couple of lawyers - a diverse group if ever there was one.

And with diversity such a hot topic in the sector at the moment, it is gratifying to see that we finally seem to be walking the walk as well as talking the talk. For instance, it is terrific to see Reading Real Estate Foundation teaming up with British Land and the Sutton Trust to set up ‘Pathways to Property’, which offers a summer school at Reading followed by mentoring, bursaries and internships to students from less privileged backgrounds.

That said, as an industry, we can all still do so much more to attract and retain our best young talent. Greater support for flexible working, part-time working and career breaks will help enormously.

The other discussion point of the evening was what characteristics make a good leader. Property Week’s guest speaker Dr Matt Carter gave the rising stars some things to think about. He told us that the best leaders are those who people below them actually admire and want to work with as opposed to those they fear or do not like. And the most inspiring are those who really enjoy their work, work hard and believe passionately in what they are doing.

So I am delighted with the calibre and range of people on Property Week’s 40 Under 40 list, which shows that in many areas we are not only embracing the diversity challenge, we are also attracting young people with a true passion for property.

It will be fascinating to see who on Property Week’s current list will make it to the very top of the industry in the next decade. Similarly who will be on the 40 Under 40 list in five and 10 years’ time? It’s all to play for.

In the meantime, congratulations to all of those who made it into the class of 2015. You’ve set the bar very high.

Rob Thompson is head of real estate London at Irwin Mitchell