Harworth’s CEO Lynda Shillaw on her route into property, the people she most admires and her cultural recommendations.
How did you get into the property industry?
By accident. I moved from London to Leeds to get married. I worked for BT, which offered me the role of financial controller of the North East building services business.
After about nine months, I moved to a more operational role and the property bug bit me and I never looked back. I ended up as group property director at BT before moving on to roles at the Co-operative Group, Lloyds Banking Group, South West Infrastructure Partnership, Manchester Airports Group and TCS.
What industrial and logistics projects are you working on?
We are very close to completing our 332,000 sq ft Bardon Hill development in Leicestershire, while also developing the next phases of two of our more mature sites: the 2.1m sq ft Advanced Manufacturing Park in Rotherham and Gateway 36 in Barnsley.
In addition, we’re beginning site preparation works for our 1.2m sq ft Chatterley Valley site in Staffordshire and our 1.1m sq ft Wingates scheme near Harworth’s now-completed Logistics North development in Bolton.
What do you like most about the property industry?
The variety and the fact that we can absolutely change things for the better and make a difference to people’s lives.
And what do you dislike most about it?
That we still haven’t done anywhere near enough to be able to say that we are a diverse and inclusive industry.
What barriers or challenges do you feel you have overcome?
I never took no for an answer and just kept going, taking opportunities as they arose. That said, in the first 20 years of my career, proving that I
was credible to myself was my biggest barrier.
What are you most proud of in your career?
That I am chief executive of a business like Harworth – it was a long time coming, but so worth the wait.
What’s your biggest career mistake or regret?
I have probably made loads of mistakes, but the fact that one doesn’t stand out means that while they probably felt awful at the time, in the grand scheme of things they didn’t really matter. I genuinely have no regrets; I have had a wonderful career.
What advice would you give someone starting a career in the property industry?
Be inquisitive. Be brave – you will get it wrong and make mistakes sometimes. Believe in yourself, be nice and build a network. The latter will be your sounding board and crash mat when you need it.
Who do you admire most in the property sector?
It’s a long list but Lord Foster and Lord Rogers stand out for creating some of the most iconic buildings in recent decades.