Knight Frank’s capital markets partner on building trust, younger generations and gender equality

What motivates you?

The people around me, the team, those I work with every day – as well as getting the best out of people and driving performance. Ultimately, though, it’s about clients, building trust and developing lifelong relationships and friends that last a career – not just one deal.

Johnny Hawkins

What do you value in people?


What’s your favourite cuisine?

Mum’s Sunday roast.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

The best advice I’ve received was from Charles Clarke, from ATIS Real Weatheralls. He said that when you find somewhere you like, “don’t jump around too much – stay at a firm and build a career”. I’ve been at Knight Frank for 15 years.

What’s your business motto?

Do what you say you will do!

Why did you take your current job?

I was young and ambitious and my employer at the time wasn’t giving me the option to move into the investment team, which was where I wanted to be.

What was your childhood ambition?

To play professional rugby.

What would be your dream job?

I grew up in the country down a farm track, so anything where I could spend more time outside in the fresh air would be the dream. Perhaps I could be a professional golfer or a ghillie!

St Michaels Mount

Source: Shutterstock/Athip_Taechapongsathon

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?

Cornwall – I love England, and Cornwall is a beautiful and relaxing place to be, when you get the weather.

What’s your favourite way to relax?

Fishing with no one else around.

How do you feel about the future?

It’s an incredibly exciting time for the sector and for Knight Frank. There are some very talented people joining the industry and exciting new tech-based opportunities coming through. The calibre of people joining the industry is higher than ever and, as the younger generation progress, it will shape our sector for the better.

The incoming talent is motivated by the changing dynamic of where technology might take the market. They’re tech-savvy and embracing the resulting opportunities. They’re not afraid.

How do you deal with change in the property industry?

Embrace it, move on and upwards. If you don’t, you’ll get left behind.

If you had a dinner party and could invite three famous people, alive or dead, who would they be and why?

Jonny Wilkinson, so we could relive the 2003 Rugby World Cup, especially now; explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes, because I heard him speak once and I wanted to hear more – he is simply an amazing individual; and pilot Amelia Earhart. I read her book to my daughter and she was an incredible lady.

Jonny Wilkinson

Source: Shutterstock/Mitch Gunn

How do you deal with change in life?

I’m a father of a 21-month-old, so I’ve had to adapt – to having less sleep and a messy house.

What do you want to change about the property industry?

We need a better gender balance and especially in more senior positions. Many companies are certainly taking steps in the right direction.

Knight Frank Group’s executive board is accelerating its focus on gender balance and many initiatives are being proposed to help bridge this gap, but this is something we as an industry need to work on continually to make a truly impactful change. Knight Frank is hugely committed to this and gender balance has rightly become a business imperative.

The industry has a long way to go, but everyone I speak to recognises what an opportunity we have ahead of us.

What do you want to change about the world?

Less plastic. We need to clean up our oceans and rivers. As a fisherman, I pick up any plastic I see in rivers and I am pushing others to do the same. Knight Frank also recently pledged to become plastic free, partnering with marine conservation charity Surfers Against Sewage. I’m proud to be part of a firm where sustainability is at the top of the agenda.

What do you want to change about yourself?

I want to look at my phone less, so I can focus on the things that count.