Kevin Duffy, centre director at centre:mk, discusses his time in the property industry and tells us his cultural recommendations.
How did you join the property industry?
I began my career in the retail and catering industries and, when I was studying, I took on a part-time role in a food court. I used this experience to land a job in Meadowhall’s Oasis Food Court while the shopping centre was in the pre-opening stage, and from there I moved into centre management.
What does your job entail?
It is a truly diverse role; my position as centre director at centre:mk covers all aspects from strategic direction, profit and loss, project management, environment, social and governance (ESG), operational accountability, managing staff, retailers and guests’ expectations, and keeping ahead of the curve to identify and implement trends, ensuring centre:mk stays relevant.
What do you like most about the property industry?
The diversity of the role, the pace of change and the challenges faced daily. No two days are the same and there is always a new project, retailer, strategy or unexpected challenge to deal with.
And what do you dislike most about it?
I am very fortunate to do something I really love and have the credentials to prove that I am good at what I do, so to be honest, there is nothing I dislike. I do get frustrated by how quickly stores are written off by retailers. Online has its place, but nothing beats a great in-store experience.
What would you change about the property industry?
We all need to work more closely together to drive initiatives towards achieving net zero carbon emissions. It is an immense task, but something we must do and quickly. By working together with green leases and shopfitting, plus owner investment and centre management initiatives, we can achieve it successfully.
What barriers or challenges have you overcome?
The pace of change, as you need to be agile and forward-thinking to remain relevant to retailers and guests. Staff welfare and retention have always been important. However, the challenges of Covid have really escalated the need to have a clear staff retention and management plan.
What are you most proud of in your career?
There are many to choose from, including the successful launch of a number of iconic centres and winning international awards, to working with the team to position centre:mk as one of the UK’s top 10 retail destinations.
What do you value in people?
Honesty. Tell it how it is – that way we all know where we stand and can move forward from any situation knowing we are heading in the right direction.
What advice would you give someone starting a career in the property industry?
Be bold, set yourself a plan, take calculated risks and do not be afraid of a challenge, as there will be many. Most importantly, beg, borrow and steal ideas, then mould them to suit your needs.
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