Head of Cushman & Wakefield in Manchester on family, building more homes and embracing change
Where did you grow up?
In Ainsdale, which is between Southport and Formby. Our house overlooked the sand dunes – so after school, weekends and summers involved the kids in the street rolling down the dunes and making dens. Great memories!
Where is home for you now?
West Didsbury – close to the city, but with a village vibe and a great choice of bars and restaurants within walking distance.
What do you value in people?
Commitment. People who are committed to do their best in everything they do are usually a pleasure to work with.
Who do you admire most in business?
My first job was with David Lock Associates. Working with David Lock, who had been involved in planning Milton Keynes and London Docklands, was really inspirational. When I worked for him, he was an adviser to the secretary of state for the environment. Hearing about the planning policy he was helping to formulate was very exciting for an aspiring young planner.
What do you like about the property industry?
How dynamic it is. Despite working in the sector for almost 25 years, I am constantly learning new things and needing to adapt to new challenges. It makes going to work every day stimulating.
What do you dislike most about the property industry?
My frustration relates more to society than the property industry per se. We are too slow in dealing with some of today’s big issues. We are not building enough homes and, as a result, individuals and families are having to live in bedsits or sleep on friends’ sofas or on the street. We need to work together with government to enable more homes to be delivered now. We have been missing our targets for too long.
What’s your biggest fear?
Family or friends becoming seriously ill.
What has had the biggest impact on the property industry in the past five years?
Technology is having a massive impact on our daily lives – how we live, shop, study and work – and subsequently on the property industry. Those who are able to embrace technology are finding new ways of doing things and requiring different things from buildings and the environment. Those who are less able to adopt technology are struggling. How we use technology to tackle environmental issues is going to have a significant impact on the property industry over the next five years.
What makes you happy?
Spending time with my family. My sister and her family live in Italy, so when our families get together to catch up, often over great Italian food and wine, I am at my happiest. Especially if we are outside in the sun.
What was your childhood ambition?
From an early age, I was interested in buildings and places. Although I wasn’t sure what sort of job I needed to get to make a difference, I knew that I wanted a job that would help to make places better.
What’s your favourite way to relax?
When I can motivate myself, running is a really good way to clear my head.
What makes you angry?
I don’t get angry easily, but like many mums I get frustrated by having to tidy up after my daughters.
What advice would you give to someone starting a career in the property industry?
Volunteer to do things. Show you are keen and it will open up opportunities. And ask questions – it shows you are keen and you will learn new things.
What motivates you?
Doing the best job I can for my clients and being proud of the work that I do for them and the impact that it has.
How do you deal with change in the property industry?
Embrace it! Having to respond to new opportunities or challenges is what keeps work exciting.
What do you want to change about the industry?
For the past five or so years, I have been involved in supporting diversity within DTZ/Cushman & Wakefield and the property industry. We are making progress, but it is not unusual for me to be the only woman in meetings – although sometimes I can be the one leading the meeting.
North West: plenty to be positive about
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Five minutes with Caroline Baker