As part of Property Week’s annual preview feature we asked some of the industry’s leading lights to list their personal and/or professional resolutions for the new year. This is what they said…
Head of real estate, British Land
I think we were forced towards the reactive last year, but these events will throw up some really interesting opportunities both in the occupational and capital markets particularly against a backdrop of ‘lower for longer’ or ‘zero forever’ as some are saying and we’d want to take advantage of some of these opportunities. On a personal level, I’d like to get back running again after falling off my motorbike this year!
Executive chairman, ilke Homes
Sustainability and energy-efficiency has sat at the heart of our DNA since ilke Homes’ inception in 2016. This year, we will continue to partner with investors, private developers, housing associations and councils to continue delivering high-quality, energy-efficient homes that make low-carbon living aspirational. Our evolution into becoming a fully-integrated, ‘turnkey’ developer will also mean that we can help our partners achieve tight construction programmes and speed up the delivery of much-needed housing across the UK.
Group managing director, Ringley
Having launched our automated lettings platform PlanetRent and operational platform Busy Living, we will use 2021 to continue in investing in new products and solutions to make life easier for ourselves and our clients.
Chief executive, Urban & Civic
To justify the faith of a new owner that was able to make an utterly staggering annual return of 12.3% in 2020.
Chair of the planning and transportation committee, City of London Corporation
When the tiered restrictions are eased, I will once again embrace the opportunity to meet in person, so that we can collaborate and innovate together. We must never lose sight of the privilege it is to have face to face business interaction again and we must acknowledge that, at heart, we all need each other to survive and to thrive.
CEO, Lincolnshire Co-Op
Covid-19 has tested us all. I have been proud to see how colleagues and communities have stepped up and been inspiring in their adaptability, fortitude and resourcefulness, keeping positive and supporting each other. The pandemic has changed us as individuals and its changed society. It has caused us to reflect on what is important to us, our families, our neighbourhoods, and the world. Having broken with old routines we have resolved to set off in a new direction. We look forward to playing our part, working with communities to build back better for everyone.
Chief executive, Sirius Real Estate
At Sirius 99% of our electricity comes from 100% sustainable sources, and 2020 got me thinking about my own carbon footprint as well. I have spent the last 10 years getting on and off aeroplanes like buses, and my pledge in 2021 is to use technology to limit my travel. But when I do travel my resolution is to fully appreciate the opportunity to meet shareholders, the Sirius team and our customers and to make the best of all worlds. And I will truly relish following the British Lions in South Africa in 2021 – a once in every 12 years event.
This year, I am excited to build back the momentum we had pre-pandemic. Great progress was being made in our industry, with many taking the last nine months [of 2020] to optimise, streamline and become more effective. I get the sense now that we are all very much ready to get on with it, to work smarter and to move forward with a renewed focus on people, place, and purpose – and that excites me!
Group chief executive, IPSX
Given my daughter is in Barcelona for a year for her Spanish/English degree and thus immersed in Spanish I feel I should dust off my Rosetta stone tapes and seek to improve on my o-level French in 2021.
CEO/founder, Smart Spaces
To reset and get active. For me, the second lockdown didn’t encourage the same level of outdoor activity or health and wellbeing drive. The shorter days have resulted in back-to-back Zoom meetings and no daylight. I can’t wait to get out and go to meetings, walk around the Square Mile, up and down stairs and escalators to burn those holiday calories. We’ve just introduced a step counter on our app, so this is all the encouragement I need.
CEO Europe, Harrison Street
To travel more than I did in 2020!
Managing principal, HOK London Studio
I’m grateful for how the pandemic afforded me more time with my family, particularly my children. This helped give me a revitalised perspective on how important investing in the next generation is for the future of our society and economy. Not only do I want to continue investing in my family, but also the young architects who are the future of our profession. We need to ‘mind the gap’ in terms of the lack of hands-on workplace opportunities that many have not benefitted from due to the pandemic and find a way to make this available no matter the cost.
Head of Europe, Oxford Properties
2020 showed the value of self-reflection and I want to continue doing this personally as well as professionally. Covid has forced us to exercise patience and humility by acknowledging that we don’t always have all the answers. I also want to continue the great progress we made last year on the inclusiveness and diversity front, putting this at the heart of our business as Oxford goes into 2021.
Deputy fund manager, Schroder UK Real Estate Fund
Sustainability is an integrated element of our investment management approach and it will continue to be at the forefront of our activity for years to come to ensure that our assets are well positioned for the future, as both government regulation and tenant requirements evolve. We also look forward to continuing our hard work on the fund throughout 2021 as we seek further opportunities to increase returns for our investors, whilst also continuing to enhance our assets to provide occupiers with the best in class and environmentally friendly facilities.
Head of London real estate and institutional investment, Eversheds Sutherland
Like most people, every New Year I resolve to be better and end up staying the same. 2020 could be different, because homeworking has changed everything. I don’t miss the airless Piccadilly Line commute. But working from home too often feels like camping in a busy office. And endless video calls make some days feel like a flight to Ulan Bator: cramped seat, kicking your legs to avoid DVT and rubbing your ‘Zoomy’ eyes. My New Year’s resolution is a better balance between home working and domestic life, and to make space for more exercise. I will let you know how far I get on our next Teams call.
CEO, Landmark Group
Into 2021 I will continue to be a pragmatic optimist. We had big plans to launch our LDS Sales Guarantee for resi developers in 2020 which didn’t happen as planned – same thing could be said for the entire year! The underlying lender and developer demand has increased in line with the uncertainty now faced, so I see 2021 as being the year for our sales guarantee. It would also be great to keep off the weight lost as a direct result of having no business socialising or social life - despite pining for the return of these elements.
My resolutions for 2021 will focus on continuing to uphold existing principles and habits. Firstly, I will remain a patient and rationale investor to ensure that we continue to deliver reliable, repetitive and growing income streams from quality assets. Secondly, I will campaign harder to promote a stronger economic alignment between REIT management teams and their shareholders. My third and final resolution is to adhere to my strict five and two diet: five days of enjoying a glass and two days of abstinence.
We have continued to invest in our team and are confident of an uptick this year. We are very active in prime areas such as Regent Street, Soho and Borough Market, which we expect to be the first beneficiaries of normality beginning to return. Our team are key to achieving this and we hope 2021 will enable us to develop our culture to focus more on our employees mental health, the need for ‘headspace’ and providing support to prioritise this.
Chief financial officer, SEGRO
Thanks to the brilliance of scientists globally who have developed the Covid vaccines on an unprecedented timescale, we can look forward to 2021 with optimism. I intend to embrace the positives of lockdown (Zoom, who knew?!) whilst seeing much more of my friends and colleagues who I really missed last year.
Head of UK asset management at Aviva Investors
From a personal perspective, avoiding another stint of home-schooling teenagers would come high up my list! On a more practical level, I’d like to better-reflect ESG values within the home; whether that’s taking a more sustainable approach to household activities or through plans to add a solar/wind solution to reduce our external energy needs. Professionally, I’d like us continue to drive and deliver on the ambitions of our ESG programmes across the whole portfolio, whether that relates to ‘E’, ‘S’ or ‘G’, or a combination thereof. As investors in real estate, we are in a strong position to tackle climate-related risks in our activities and recognise the impact we can have at a community level, by investing with a strong sense of social purpose.
CEO, St Modwen
One of my biggest learnings from 2020, is that we all need to be kinder and look after one another more. The global pandemic has brought out the best and worst in people. However, the sense of community has trumped most acts of selfishness. I resolve to be less selfish, which for me probably means fewer long bicycle rides away from home!
Chief executive, Carter Jonas
In 2020, we have all experienced a dramatic change to our working patterns and environment. Of course, for many, there have been positive benefits, but the logistical and emotional challenges of working from home have brought health and mental wellbeing issues into focus. The younger generation has been severely impacted, but feelings of isolation are not restricted to junior members of our team; many of us are struggling. Alongside our HR team, my resolution is to work harder than ever before, to ensure that appropriate structures and training are in place, so that everyone in our business has access to support, and no one is afraid to ask for it.
Co-founder, Great Marlborough Estates
Hopefully less remote working and to continue our track record of delivering high-quality, beautifully designed homes across the capital.
CEO, AXA IM - Real Assets
After close to a year of lockdown and travel restrictions, I am very eager to physically meet our teams and clients again. My new year’s resolution is for my personal carbon footprint to follow the same pathway as that drawn for our flagship fund, i.e. to reduce my carbon footprint by 20% by 2025, prioritising travel by train to plane, and public transportation to car, where possible.
CFO & COO, essensys
The partial return to the office after the summer was well received and reinforced the benefits of being based in an office – even if for part of the week. I look forward to returning to the office more regularly in 2021, while ensuring that the learnings of the WFH experiment are not lost, as we adapt to an environment that is part physical and part virtual.
Head of Europe & AsiaPacific Real Estate Equity
Having spent most of 2020 at home, or in a virtually empty office, I am keen to spend time with our local investment teams across Europe, who will likely be having an exceptionally busy year deploying capital for our core and value add strategies, as well as supporting the build out of our Asia PAC real estate operations. At a personal level, I’d like to improve my work and home life balance. A resolution that I’ve consistently failed at.
Managing director, Axion Property Partners
I am committing to continuing to drive positive change, both professionally and personally. I plan to focus not just on my physical health, but also my mental health, through meditation and mindfulness. Professionally I want to continue to positively impact the lives of others through property investment by continuing my quest for female financial empowerment, through property investment, with PropElle Network, and using property to bring financial stability to those in the UK black community through Black Property Network. I will also continue to work with property developers to help them secure the funding, to deliver more affordable homes in the UK.
Head of European real estate & CIO, UBS Asset Management
On a professional level I would like to get our European teams together again. It would be fun and also very beneficial for the platform. Last year showed there are certain benefits from working at home but there is no substitute for being together in person. On a personal level, I am pretty sure I talked about travelling more as a family last year and bearing in mind we didn’t go anywhere due to Covid I am hopeful we can travel more freely in the later part of the year.
CEO, McKay Securities
No second helpings.
Chief executive, Cain International
Our culture at Cain is the strongest it has ever been, but I don’t take that for granted. My resolution is to continue listening to, and championing, our people.
Head of Myo, Landsec
Reflecting on 2020 and all the challenges it has presented, my resolutions for 2021 are threefold: catch up with and extend my professional network which hasn’t been possible through the majority of 2020. I can’t wait for when face to face meetings and social events are possible again! Spend more quality time with family, especially as my two young children seem to be growing up at the blink of an eye. Give more back to support charities, especially those related to property. I took on the role of a LandAid ambassador to support homelessness and completed the QuaranTEN fundraiser in 2020, but want to do more in 2021
Chief executive, AshbyCapital
My resolution is to reflect on the changes last year brought about, remembering that our job is to meet occupiers’ demands. The most successful developers and investors are those that have embraced technology and change, rather than ignoring or trying to battle against it. Technology, sustainability and wellness will therefore be priorities for us over the coming year and beyond.
CEO/founder/chairman, Pi Labs
The industry should resolve to adopt technologies that support ESG priorities. ESG continues to remain high on the agenda and attract innovation as policymakers put pressure on real estate owners and investors. This goes beyond trying to achieve net zero in our buildings. Healthy buildings will form a core component of this as businesses adapt to working life post-pandemic. We should equally be focused on the ‘S’ in ESG looking at how we can effectively measure wellbeing, community, and productivity which will remain hugely important as businesses move to more agile working frameworks.
CEO, Savills UK and EMEA
To maintain focus on the increasing industry momentum for mental health, diversity, wellbeing and the environment. Whilst we have seen some positive changes that have come out of Covid, such as the higher frequency of speaking with colleagues abroad that video connectivity has provided, it has also emphasised the importance of taking breaks from the computer, having a middle of the day walk and meeting one to one rather than relying on Zoom groups. Moving forward I will not take the simple things like meeting people face to face for granted, and I will definitely carve out more family time around my busy work schedule, if only to take up golf lessons to avoid being beaten by my son!
In a year where more uncertainty is likely, my resolution is to keep an open mind, reacting – but not overreacting – to circumstances as they play out.
Managing director, Patron Capital
My resolution is to continue to evolve the Patron business and team, strengthening a multigenerational platform to better serve our investors and our clients. While this is a longer-term plan, we will be initiating key steps that build on our past work and leverage our fantastic team.
Senior partner, Allsop
My resolution for 2020 was to avoid all mention of the ‘B’ word, which I kept my word on. In 2021, I don’t want to have to use the ‘C’ word! Although this year has taught us so many lessons as a firm – from the importance of a strong culture and how to keep people engaged, to how quickly we can digitalise our entire auction business – I will still be glad to put its challenges behind us and move forward in a less volatile and challenging environment.
Founder, Jo Cowen Architects
A commitment to ESG. We all care about where we live, now more than ever. So it makes sense that this transformational mind-set has increased appetite from global and domestic institutional investors to have a meaningful impact in the supply of housing in the UK. By fully and transparently committing to ESG, collectively we will have the potential to change the landscape of where and how we all live.
Founding partner, Quadrant
I am determined to take a period of extended leave to pursue my passion for sailing and tick the world’s great offshore races off my bucket list.
To do my bit for Cadogan’s zero carbon by 2030 target by continuing 2020’s cycling streak and not being tempted by four wheels…and remain a calm commuter, no matter the behaviour of other road users and their selective blind spots!
Managing director, GRE Assets
In 2021, we strive to continue to take into account local people’s needs as we emerge out the Covid-19 pandemic by helping to create much-needed homes and communities. This will be in areas where the demand is strong and we will also support the regeneration agendas of these locations. As the economy faces challenges and people face unemployment, we will make sure we employ local people in the areas in which we develop.
I’m sure I’m not alone in saying that getting healthier, being outside, valuing time with others and appreciating travel when it’s needed will be a priority. My resolution, though, is to stop the treadmill occasionally, get away and try something completely new – right now Italian viniculture feels very appealing.
Head of UK & Ireland, Cushman & Wakefield
My New Year’s resolution is to never again take for granted the benefits that come from collaborating in person whether with colleagues or clients. The coming vaccine will finally allow us to venture out more freely, to physically meet and in so doing to more easily ‘spark ideas’ off each other. History tells us that we are at our most creative when coming out of major global events. That creativity added to the rich talent that we have in the industry will be a key driver in real estate re-exerting its purpose in 2021.
Head of real estate, Trowers & Hamlins
Social mobility is a passion of mine. I would like to look back on 2021 as a year where I have played my part in driving real positive change in addressing the various barriers into employment in the real estate sector. We began our ‘Routes to Real Estate’ initiative this year and this is something I want to continue to champion both from a personal and professional perspective. Diversity is an asset for both businesses and those that work in the sector, in its capacity to foster innovation and creativity, and is integral to moving the sector forward.
Managing director, Tilstone Partners
My personal resolution is to try harder to ‘live for today for we know not what tomorrow brings’. Maybe the best way to create the required time is to work more efficiently building on the experiences of 2020 lockdowns. Less travelling not only saves time but also contributes to improving climate change targets. Ultimately, protecting planet Earth has to be the New Year’s resolution of everybody.
My resolution is to bring our sector to life: Why it’s important and what the benefits are – both as an investment and for our prospective residents. But it’s still a relatively new market in the UK and I’d like to see and hear it spoken about more. For us, well-being is a key part of the proposition; we want to demonstrate the value and benefit of living in urban locations for the over-65s. Helping to foster community living – the older generation still have a lot to give.
Director of development for strategic land, Grosvenor Britain & Ireland
To build upon the social value charter we launched last year, Positive Space, and continue to push for greater public engagement in placemaking. We want to work with as many local people as possible while progressing sites such as Salt Cross Village in Oxfordshire, so that new places truly work for everyone.
Managing director, Chancerygate
To ensure that I make time whilst working from home to address physical and mental wellbeing. Fresh air and exercise every day and a balance between work and family time.
CEO, Sovereign Centros
My resolution is the same as always, to work harder than ever and build the brand, have fun enjoy what we do and hopefully stay fit and healthy.
Chief executive, Dolphin Living
My resolution this year is to recognise how adaptable we can be when faced with a crisis and to tackle our environmental impact in the same way. There is so much we need to do, both on a personal and professional level, and I hope that in 2021 we can use our learnings from Covid-19 and apply them to climate change.
Managing partner, FORE Partnership
Spending time more time with my family, of course – but also with my fantastic colleagues at FORE. After a year in which we have spent so much time connecting virtually, it will be wonderful to be together IRL. We’ve just moved into our new office that we have designed to both reflect our values around sustainability and social impact, and our vision of the future of work. Where the office becomes a place of collaboration, but also an extension of home in a requital for the way work invaded the home in 2020. We are using it as a laboratory, a place to test all of our best ideas from design, to sustainable materials, to tech.
Chief executive, U+I
While last year I resolved to get more sleep, I don’t might admitting I didn’t entirely achieve that: 2020 wasn’t a great year for restful nights. So, I will have much the same resolution this year – aiming to improve my wellbeing through healthier sleep habits and mindfulness. For U+I, this year is all about a relentless focus on delivering our portfolio of projects, while bedding in important changes to our operations. That includes finding a new home for the business as we right-size for a new future of hybrid working, which has been one huge positive to emerge this year and will give our people a better balance of work/life. I’ll also endeavour to get less upset about Arsenal – but I’m not sure I’ll be able to stick to that one.
My new year’s resolution is to continue growing Re-Leased, developing innovative products, and driving evidence-based decision making in the property industry. I also hope to finally travel and spend time in all our main markets – the UK, US, Australia and New Zealand.
Partner, Mishcon de Reya
Once the restrictions and deprivations of this pandemic are behind us, my resolution is to appreciate hugely all the things that I had previously taken for granted. Being able to get together with friends, family and colleagues, to travel and go out to eat and drink and meet new friends and contacts. Whilst Zoom and other platforms have been a lifeline and fulfilled a need during lockdown, I for one can’t wait to get back to ‘normal’ three dimensional encounters. On a personal level I plan to introduce a new cockerpoo puppy into the household.
Heng Leong Cheong
CEO, EcoWorld London
I feel immensely privileged and proud to lead a very talented and dedicated team through the pandemic - the work ‘team EcoWorld’ did last year was truly staggering. I want to ensure that the culture within the business remains as positive and inclusive as possible, especially with ways of working likely to change.
Founder/CEO, Trilogy Real Estate
I think about the happiness of our team. Staring at screens all day from the same solitary room cannot be good for wellbeing. I am looking forward to a time when we can be together again, have some fun and get creative. I resolve to look for something for us all to do together in the early summer before everyone else has the same idea. The only question is where?
EMEA MD, VTS.
My new year’s resolution is to continue to empower our team to use technology to be as mobile as possible, collaborate with each other on the go, spending time meeting clients and prospects, whilst remembering the importance and benefits of fostering an in-person office culture at VTS. I strongly believe maintaining a healthy balance of working from home and the office will encourage my team to do their best work wherever they want to be. Finding a new balance in 2021 will drive a culture that makes our team want to get together and collaborate so that we can continue to enhance our company values and thrive on the in-person interactions that have been missing for most of 2020.
Co-founder and MD, BE Offices
To instigate and appreciate a greater level of social interaction with my colleagues.
Find greater balance – I intend to work smarter not harder, whilst taking a proactive rather than reactive approach to health and wellbeing. What you do to your body in the first half of your life ultimately determines the quality of the second half of your life. I therefore plan to focus more on my physical and mental health by saying no more and will be encouraging those around me to attempt the same.
Head of strategic advisory, CBRE
I want to see the delivery of the infrastructure strategy played out through doing all the things differently as set out in the construction playbook. I want to help drive the delivery of the ambition through places, planet, people and property, such that we now deliver the agenda of better, greener, faster. Let’s focus on value-based outcomes, carbon neutral buildings, sustainable design and construction utilising modern methods of construction and technologies, because together we can create the places people want to call home.
Principal, Avamore Capital
My professional resolution for this year is to find ways to reinvigorate Avamore’s excellent company culture so that it can be fit for purpose in a post-pandemic world. Our culture is a source of pride for me, but it’s been difficult to create the same sense of togetherness in 2020. We’ve also had six new joiners to integrate and so we have to find ways of striking that balance between flexible working and bringing the team together.
Property director, Sloane Stanley
Last year, I was inspired by the many brands I met who place sustainability at the heart of their offer. We embrace this approach on the estate and encourage our tenants to adopt this ethos, so my new year’s resolution is to ensure this translates into my home. I want to set a positive example to my family, and in 2021 I will ensure our home is as sustainable as it can be, from the packaging we use to using less energy… and perhaps even trade in our Audi for a Tesla!
Head of sales UK & Ireland, OfficeApp
2020 wasn’t exactly the best year for the hospitality and travel industries, but we’re all hoping that they both find their feet again. To that end, my new year’s resolution is to push ahead a dream that I’d put on hold as a result of the pandemic: to purchase and restore a chateau in the south of France, offering services and amenities such as a wedding venue come yoga retreat, that is focused on encouraging people’s artistic flare and all round wellness. I’m sure we could all do with some rest and relaxation after 2020!
Principal, Bywater Properties
My new year’s resolution is to not doubt my natural optimism: optimism is what drives us through these difficult situations and helps us find new innovative solutions to our problems. It gives us the confidence that we will all find a way through this and we will be better people at the end of the journey. And it makes us happier.