JLL’s head of urban and city logistics on tech, her dream job and why she wants to meet the Queen.
Where did you grow up and where do you live now?
I grew up in Wandsworth and I still live there, so I moved from one side of Wandsworth to the other. Growing up in London, you’ll probably find you stay.
It has jobs and my family and school friends still live here, so I stayed for those reasons.
Who do you admire most in the property industry?
When I used to work in the research team at JLL, my boss was Jon Sleeman, and I worked with him for 10 years. I learned a lot from him; he’s extremely knowledgeable on the market. The reason I’ve done so well in my career is because I had him as a boss. I would class him as one of the best industrial researchers globally.
How did you end up in your current job?
I started my career in the EGi research team, then joined the industrial research team at King Sturge, which merged with JLL. I took an early interest in the last-mile market and ecommerce.
A couple of years ago, I went to Singapore in a research capacity and looked at how multi-level buildings there operate, then brought that knowledge back to London to advise clients.
Andy Harding, JLL’s head of UK industrial and logistics, realised we needed to make an urban market team and asked if I wanted to lead it – obviously I wasn’t going to say no.
What change has had the biggest impact on the industry in the past five years?
Technology – the way we work using Teams, ecommerce and so on. In the industrial market, we’re starting to look at technologies that can improve efficiencies within buildings. I think technology has pushed things forward.
What do you like most and least about the property industry?
The industrial sector is very friendly; you easily end up forming friendships. What I least like about the industry is that it can sometimes be slow to adapt.
What is your favourite way to relax?
Probably having a glass of rosé out in the sun.
What makes you happy?
I’ve been told to isolate for the next five days by the Test and Trace app. Once I’ve isolated and am allowed outside, I’ll be happy. Two years ago, my answer would have been different but right now, I’ll be happy getting back to normality.
What would be your dream job?
I wanted to be a baker; that’s the answer I gave in primary school. If I were to have any form of career change I would do that.
What advice would you give someone starting out in the property industry?
Absorb as much as you can. Any job is about learning what and how you can improve. What we do is give advice to clients and make better buildings for the market, and create better places in which to live, work and operate warehouses.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
To be more assertive and assured in my decisions.
If you could have one conversation with someone alive or dead who would it be?
I would like to speak to the Queen – maybe over a glass of wine! She’s seen a lot and spoken to many different people. I think that would be an interesting conversation.
How do you feel about the future?
You’ve got to be positive about the future. It’s such an unknown – who could have predicted what has happened over these past 18 months?
What one thing would you change about the property industry?
The property industry is definitely moving forward and striving to be more inclusive. It has started changing but needs to carry on. With things like this, you’re never really finished, so more progress in this area would be very good.
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Five minutes with… Tessa English, JLL’s head of urban and city logistics