Christopher Heath, managing director of Cube Homes, discusses his experiences in the property industry and gives his cultural recommendations, including favourite book and the celebrity he would like to spend an hour with.
How did you join the property industry?
I started straight from school as a trainee quantity surveyor in civil engineering before moving to work for a small housebuilder and then moving into land acquisition, development and ultimately senior management.
What does your job entail now?
I am managing director of Cube Homes, a business with a £20m turnover that builds bespoke new home developments for sale and private rent across the North West of England. Cube is the private-sector arm of the Great Places Housing Group, which provides affordable social housing across the region. Profit generated by Cube Homes is Gift Aided back to the Housing Association, supporting its core social objectives.
I am responsible for deciding the strategy for the business, securing our development sites, managing the planning process, construction procurement, working with our salespeople and ensuring we consistently delight our customers, among other things!
What do you like most about the property industry?
Every day is different – sometimes that can be frustrating, as the government keeps changing regulations, but it definitely keeps you on your toes and life exciting. The best thing is being able to drive past a house you have helped build and see that it sets pulses racing. Of course, you have to use your head when you buy a house but it has to make your heart beat faster as well – we don’t do boring houses!
And what do you dislike most about it?
I’m sure like 99% of people who answer this question it is the planning process, which just seems to be there to frustrate and block you at every turn. Losing out on a site you have put your heart and soul into is always a massive disappointment, especially if the end result isn’t good. Occasionally, you think ‘yes, they saw something I missed’ and you learn from it, but it still hurts!
What would you change about the property industry?
The planning process!
What barriers or challenges do you feel you have overcome?
I have been really lucky and haven’t come up against many barriers. It was hard to switch from one discipline to another and certainly early in my career people were sometimes surprised when a fresh-faced young guy turned up for board meetings. That has changed in recent years – if you are good at what you do, it doesn’t matter what age you are.
What are you most proud of in your career?
Seeing people who work for me develop and grow. I love giving people the opportunity to be the best that they can be and it’s so rewarding when they succeed and even at times surprise themselves.
What do you value in people?
Integrity, passion, drive and enthusiasm – if you have those qualities, you can apply them to pretty much anything.
What advice would you give someone starting a career in the property industry?
Have a healthy level of cynicism; you have to be able to cope with setbacks. I think I was born with the ability to dust myself off.