Whitbread’s head of acquisitions for the north and Ireland on diversity, integrity and kicking things to relax

Kevin Murray

What is the worst travel experience you’ve had while working in property?

Driving down the M62 between Leeds and Manchester. Any day of the week.

What is the best work decision you have made?

Joining Whitbread and being part of the team that helped Premier Inn grow into the UK’s largest hotel business.

What is your greatest work achievement?

Leading Premier Inn’s expansion into Dublin. We have committed to three fabulous city centre sites in a short period of time and have many more in the pipeline.

Dublin - Premier Inn

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

Nothing’s agreed until it’s all agreed. It’s been my mantra ever since.

What is the best industry after-party you’ve been to?

We’re a sociable bunch at Whitbread and I’m lucky to have been to many good after-parties. And the parties at Mipim never disappoint.

Who do you most admire in the industry?

I can’t single anyone out – there are many fantastic leaders in the industry. It’s hard not to admire anyone who has had the vision and commitment to make things happen.

What is the best thing about the industry?

No two days are the same. You see a lot of places and work with some excellent people. I’m also very optimistic about the continued incorporation of technology into property – the speed of change is incredible.

Great white shark

Source: Shutterstock/ Ramon Carretero

And what is the worst thing?

Still a lack of diversity. Things are improving but the industry has some way to go. The property events I attend are still dominated by white, middle-aged men like me. That needs to change.

What are you afraid of?

Sharks and crocodiles, but I have absolutely no intention of ever encountering either.

What do you value in people?

Honesty, integrity and a sense of humour.

What is your dream job?

Being 007. I mean, come on!

What one thing would you change about the industry if you could?

Aside from the lack of diversity, I get frustrated by the planning system. So-called ‘budget’ hotels like Premier Inn are often seen in a negative light by councils, when in reality we are very long-term investors, de-risk schemes, design sustainable buildings and create thousands of jobs.

What will have the biggest impact on property in the next 10 years?

It’s probably not even been invented yet! I imagine it will be technology led, or a faster shift away from traditional construction methods, which can seem outdated in a world of ever-evolving technology.

Route 66

Source: Shutterstock/ MaxyM

What is your ideal holiday?

A road trip across the US. One day….

What was your childhood ambition?

To play football for Swansea City.

What is your favourite way to relax?

Punching and kicking things! I have a third-degree black belt in martial arts.

Which three famous people, alive or dead, would you invite to a dinner party?

The comedians Sean Lock and Jon Richardson – with Rachel Riley there to calculate splitting the bill. Anyone who watches 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown will know why.

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

Wales, overlooking the sea.

What one thing would you change about yourself?

I’d love to be younger! The pace of technological change since I started my career has been phenomenal and is only likely to increase more quickly in the future.