Chris Dougray, executive director and head of development at CBRE Scotland talks about his time in the property and gives us his cultural recommendations.
How did you join the property industry?
I graduated from Paisley College of Technology (now the University of the West of Scotland) in 1988 before joining the Standard Life graduate scheme. The rest is history!
What does your job entail?
Following CBRE’s acquisition of my company Dougray Smith in April, I am now head of development for CBRE Scotland, responsible for growing the development advisory team. It is an exciting time to have joined CBRE as I believe the development sector is entering a very interesting phase, where there will be opportunities for well-advised clients.
What do you like most about the property industry?
The diversity, particularly over the last few years. When I started out, the industry was not diverse but it is a better workplace with a more complete range of participants now. We still need more women in the industry; my daughter is keen to follow in her old man’s footsteps, and I am encouraging her. It can be a great sector in which to work, although I wonder about the influence of technology in the near-term future.
And what do you dislike most about it?
The industry can be quite gossipy, and we do ourselves no favours at times with idle chat – often these things tend to come to the surface.
What would you change about the property industry?
We need a governing body that better represents its professional participants. I sense change is under way – and it is long overdue. The average person in the street has no clue about the scope and range of professional services that are on offer.
What barriers or challenges have you overcome?
There was – and to some extent still is – a strong drinking culture in our industry. That threw me a curveball a long time ago now. Thanks to my good friends, Christian Bruce and Steve Lillywhite, that challenge was overcome. The same challenge remains for many, as I know based on the number of times I am asked for help. We need to be more open on acknowledging the issue.
What are you most proud of in your career?
David Smith and I started a property advisory business with only one month’s salary each in the bank. Eight years later we sold to CBRE – the world’s largest real estate consultancy firm. It was quite a journey with lots of highs and lows along the way, but the end result is one I am very proud of.
What do you value in people?
Trustworthiness and an ability to have a laugh at oneself. I guess a common trait among my friends and clients is an ability to have a good laugh. Of course, I take my own and my clients’ businesses very seriously, but being able to have fun along the way makes a difference!
What advice would you give someone starting a career in the property industry?
Initially, get a good level of rounded experience, then find a niche that interests you and that you enjoy. The most under-appreciated skill in the UK is an ability to sell (and present). Do not be ashamed or embarrassed to undertake training on this. It makes such a difference across all aspects of the profession, not just agency