Simon Kennish, property director at Bolesworth, talks about his experiences in property and tells us his cultural recommendations
How did you join the property industry?
As a child in the 1970s, I used to visit construction sites with my father who was a contract manager, so I was always interested to see how buildings were put together. In order to pursue my passion, I went on to do a degree in building surveying and become a chartered surveyor. Then, I moved through project and programme management to senior management positions and finally to where I am today – a property director at Bolesworth.
What does your job entail?
As property director for the Bolesworth estate in Cheshire, I lead the team looking after a 6,500-acre estate with a diverse commercial, residential and farm portfolio. It has everything from new-builds to listed buildings, business parks, industrial estates, more than 160 houses and a 300-berth marina. It is about getting the best out of the portfolio: improving asset value and income streams, reducing expenditure or getting better value from our spend. We work to make the estate sustainable for future generations of the Barbour family.
What do you like most about the property industry?
Property is so varied that no two days are the same, new opportunities arise every day and you can stretch your mind to find workable solutions. Some days I am dealing with planning applications, other days on asset management plans, then through to condition surveys, dilapidations and construction projects.
And what do you dislike most about it?
At times, the industry can place barriers to delivering things, some of which are too bureaucratic and long-winded, if only they could be reduced a little.
What would you change about the property industry?
I think improved training for those entering the industry is essential at all levels, from trades through to professionals. The quality seems to have dropped over the decades as people do not understand some of the basics.
What barriers or challenges have you overcome?
Being the first person in my family to gain a degree and become professionally qualified, then moving through my career to reach the role of property director has been quite a leap.
What are you most proud of in your career?
I am always happy to invest time in people who want to develop, be it professional, management or leadership skills. Seeing those people use those skills to move onwards and upwards gives me a great feeling, knowing I have helped them. When I started out, my first boss (Bernard Brown) took time to sit with me and teach me some of the basics of surveying. I never forgot that he took the time to help me and have always tried to help others.
What do you value in people?
Honesty above all else. Being open and honest with people is the best way to be; sometimes it is unpleasant to hear, but that is the start of making things better.
What advice would you give someone starting a career in the property industry?
Gain lots of experience working for different organisations across different sectors – do not become pigeonholed too early on. Find something you really enjoy doing, too.
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