The moment has come. After months of deliberation by the RESI Senate, the Property Week editorial team, sponsor Cluttons and you, our readers, we can now unveil this year’s RESI Trailblazers.
So here it is – our list of 32 entrepreneurs, innovators and disruptors who are shaking up the UK residential sector.
Founder, Luxtrum Sales & Marketing Consultancy
What’s so trailblazing? After spending 17 years working for some of the UK’s biggest residential and PBSA developers, Canning launched her own sales and marketing consultancy this year. The knowledge she has accumulated over her career puts her in the perfect position to support real-estate businesses looking to develop new innovations. Canning also offers strategy, training, recruitment, data analysis and research support. Her strategic approach to marketing combined with her exposure to operations means she has an innate understanding of the industry.
Mantra: “Challenge the status quo.”
Founder, Mr and Mrs Clarke
What’s so trailblazing? Clarke launched
the boutique estate agency Mr and Mrs Clarke after feeling distinctly underwhelmed by the experience of selling his home in London and buying a family home in the country. Clarke and his wife Alexandra have created an estate agency that believes buying and selling can be done better through a focus on creating beautiful advertising and offering high levels of customer service. Clarke has quickly grown the business across the UK through the use of licensing agreements, and Mr and Mrs Clarke has won a number of awards for the stylish service it provides.
Mantra: “Work hard and be nice to people.”
Surveyor, living capital markets – long-income investment, JLL
What’s so trailblazing? In addition to Dawidek’s work in the living capital markets team, she played an integral role in the creation of Real Estate Balance’s NextGen committee, which she co-chairs, and she also sits on JLL’s gender balance committee. Dawidek is particularly interested in gender equality having written a dissertation on how gender pay gap reporting could be an effective tool for improving diversity and inclusion (D&I) in real estate. However, she believes it is fundamental that D&I is approached in a holistic way in which all forms of inequality in real estate are addressed to achieve the shared goal of creating an inclusive environment where anyone can succeed.
Mantra: “Work hard and be kind to everyone.”
Managing director, Click Above & Click Properties
What’s so trailblazing? Click Above creates new homes on top of existing buildings, utilising offsite construction methods. This allows the highest standards of quality control, safety, design and energy-efficiency to be delivered, while minimising onsite disruption. Through his extensive planning expertise, Emmett spearheads Click Above’s airspace development strategy. Working with both private freeholders and local boroughs, Click Above delivers new homes through MMC and innovative design and has recently completed an airspace development above an existing residential block in Nine Elms. Click Above currently has 103 new homes in the development pipeline.
Mantra: “Innovate and be a solution.”
What’s so trailblazing? Former journalist and marketing consultant Fulford set up nHouse to improve the quality of houses built in the UK. “I didn’t and don’t like the majority of new homes built in the UK,” he says. “From their poor construction quality to the lack of imaginative designs, the customer experience is mostly rubbish and it felt like an industry in need of some disruption. And so I thought I might be able to stir things up a bit.” Fulford co-founded nHouse in 2016. He raised money via crowdfunding and launched a design-led modular housing company that combines advanced manufacturing methods with high-quality natural materials. The company offers nine residential unit types and supplies private buyers and developers. More than 50 nHouses are now making their way through the planning process. Fulford is also co-founder of the Offsite Alliance, a new association designed to help MMC residential builders work together to promote the sector.
Mantra: “No one really knows anything. All assumptions cause cock-ups. Keep buggering on as perseverance pays.”
Managing director, Lamington Group
What’s so trailblazing? Godwin is a trained economist and entrepreneur with a passion for design and experience. He is the managing director of Lamington Group, an established group of companies investing and developing real estate in the residential and commercial sectors. Godwin is also the founder and chief executive of award-winning room2 Hometels, an innovative and creative hospitality brand and operating business that bridges the gap between Airbnb and hotels. Room2 currently has two open sites with five in the pipeline and has ambitious rollout plans that Godwin hopes will see it operating 5,000 rooms by 2030. For 10 years, Godwin represented Great Britain at the highest international level in sailing – a fiercely competitive, performance-orientated environment. He brings these skills to business, actively targeting market shares of the hotel giants with a more relevant business model built for the future.
Mantra: “I am driven to add value to people’s lives and experiences for places they work, live and visit.”
CEO, Eutopia Homes
What’s so trailblazing? Hammond is the founding director of Eutopia Homes, which was established in September 2017. Eutopia has secured a pipeline of 1,500 homes across the housing spectrum in key regional cities Birmingham, Exeter and Manchester. Having secured planning permission for one of Exeter’s largest BTR schemes, Hammond has been instrumental in forming a discounted market rental offer as part of the S106 agreement. Through masterplanning complex urban sites, Hammond has led Eutopia Homes into emerging relationships with institutional investors, later-living providers and housing for sale partnerships.
Mantra: “Challenge convention at every stage – quality knows no bounds.”
CEO and founder, Glenhawk
What’s so trailblazing? Thirty-three-year-old former developer Harrington launched Glenhawk in 2018 to disrupt the oft-maligned short-term lending market. The company took only 18 months to become profitable, with more than £2.1bn of enquiries generated and £150m of loans provided to date. Ground-breaking initiatives, including offering free valuations and paying borrower legal fees, reinforced its reputation for fairness and transparency. March saw a £200m funding line secured with JP Morgan, marking its UK entry into this market. Covid-19 has not slowed Harrington down. August and September saw nearly £350m of new loan enquiries and the last six months saw a 20% loan-book increase.
Mantra: “You never win or lose; you win and learn.”
Founder, The Land Collective and Sqft Digital
What’s so trailblazing? Hayford founded The Land Collective in her third year of university. The career development and commercial awareness platform, which started of as a blog to rant about local property issues and built environment matters, has grown into an international online publication, showcasing the sector to interested and curious students and young professionals. Hayford is now also the managing director of Sqft Digital, a student marketing agency aiming to transform early career programmes and firms’ engagement with students throughout the academic year. Sqft Digital was born out of frustration with the property industry’s low visibility among students and the slow progress of diversity in the sector.
Mantra: “Run your own race and dance your own dance.”
CEO, Landmark Group
What’s so trailblazing? Hawthorn has worked in the resi sector since the age of 16. He started Landmark in 2000, aged 19, with no capital and is on course to own £150m of assets by the end of 2020. His newest and most exciting project is LDS Next Generation Development Finance, which offers sales guarantees for resi developers and their lenders. During lockdown, LDS used proptech to launch an online ‘sales guarantee engine’, which produces reliable proposals in under two minutes.
Mantra: “Work smarter and harder; refuse to choose between quantity and quality as both can be achieved.”
Tim Heatley/Adam Higgins
Co-founders, Capital & Centric
What’s so trailblazing? Heatley and Higgins are co-founders of Capital & Centric, a social-impact developer spending £2m a week on regeneration.
They are also co-founders of the non-profit Regeneration Brainery, which works throughout the UK to mentor more than 100 young adults from diverse backgrounds into the real estate sector, and co-founders of the Embassy Bus, which is a non-profit shelter for people experiencing homelessness. The duo are working up plans to evolve this into a ‘village’ of 40 homes in central Manchester. Heatley is also co-founder and chair of the Greater Manchester Mayor’s Charity, which has raised £3m since being founded two years ago, to support the region’s most vulnerable and disadvantaged people.
Mantra: “Don’t follow the crowd.”
What’s so trailblazing? Iannucci-Dawson trained as an architect and quickly worked his way up the corporate ladder at the world’s largest design firm. After moving into housebuilding, he became familiar with the new-homes sales process and it was here that he saw how painful the buying and selling process was for all parties involved. Iannucci-Dawson gave up his corporate salary and struck out alone to start Yourkeys, which three years later represents around 10% of all new homes sales in the UK. He says this “is just the start”.
Mantra: “Sheer grit and determination wins over raw talent every day of the week.”
Senior property development manager, commercial development, TfL
What’s so trailblazing? Jezeph believes thought leadership and best practice are powerful routes to enhancing the quality of our built environment; shaping communities and improving the life chances of individuals. She champions this through her involvement in the Urban Land Institute. After working for 10 years in the private sector at JLL, she moved to TfL, where she is leading the delivery of circa 1,600 homes, creating new communities and transport facilities for the next generation of Londoners.
Mantra: “Perseverance: if you don’t keep trying, you’ll never know what might be possible.”
Co-founder, Native Finance
What’s so trailblazing? Kannan is a co-founder of Native Finance, the first tech platform in Europe for real estate finance. Since its launch in 2018, the platform has priced more than £800m and completed around £100m in development and investment transactions. Backers include fintech VC Passion Capital and leading angel investors. Kannan is also a housing fellow with the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust, researching co-living globally. He was previously portfolio manager at the Elton John AIDS Foundation, where he launched one of the world’s first social-impact bonds. He started his career on the London trading floor at Goldman Sachs.
Mantra: “Stay hungry, stay foolish.”
Independent director and chair of House by Urban Splash
What’s so trailblazing? House by Urban Splash is a pioneering joint venture with Japan’s biggest housebuilder, Sekisui House, backed by Homes England. Its mission is to build beautiful modern homes in characterful new neighbourhoods using innovative design, MMC and the latest technology. Outside this non-executive role, Kober is managing director, homes at Pinnacle Group, overseeing the company’s housing, estates and property management contracts and working in partnership with a range of clients in the local government, institutional investment and development sectors. Prior to joining Pinnacle in 2018, Kober spent a decade in local government as leader of Haringey Council.
Mantra: “People are at the heart of everything I do; excellent outcomes come from strong relationships with all sorts of people – sometimes the best partnerships are the most unexpected.”
Associate director, House by Urban Splash
What’s so trailblazing? Twenty-nine-year-old Lenehan is associate director of House by Urban Splash – the modern housebuilder revolutionising the sector through the creation of customisable homes using MMC. Lenehan took on his senior role in spring 2019, having been with Urban Splash for two years. He was the project lead on the company’s £90m transaction with one of the world’s biggest housebuilders, Sekisui House, and Homes England, and retains responsibility for strategy and shareholder relations. Lenehan is a non-executive director of one of the UK’s largest social media creators, Komi Group. He is also a trustee of learning disabilities charity Leeds Mencap.
Mantra: “Be obsessed with the customer.”
What’s so trailblazing? Lerche-Lerchenborg is overseeing the strategic roll-out of Lavanda RESIDENTIAL and Lavanda LPM products, legitimising short-term lets and boosting yields for real estate partners and the multi-family housing and PRS industry. Prior to working at Lavanda, he worked in fund management and investment banking for 10 years. These roles included helping to build and manage more than £3bn in global equity income as part of a two-person team at Artemis Investment Management.
Mantra: “Find something that you love to do and treat everyone you meet with kindness and respect; the rest will sort itself out.”
CEO, Court Collaboration
What’s so trailblazing? McCourt started Court nine years ago in a Starbucks coffee shop alone with his laptop. Today, Court is one of Birmingham’s most active and acquisitive residential development companies. Four years ago, McCourt received the backing of billionaire Sir Tony Gallagher and together they are delivering a further 5,000 units, including Birmingham’s first 51-storey skyscraper and some of the biggest residential schemes in the city, such as the 1,000-unit scheme Stoneyard in Digbeth.
Mantra: “Property isn’t about bricks-and-mortar; it’s about people.”
Land and strategic partnerships director, Inspired Villages
What’s so trailblazing? As a director at Inspired Villages, an award-winning operator and developer of retirement villages, McNamara is responsible for fostering long-term partnerships with housebuilders, universities and landed estates to help create later-living communities in the UK. McNamara started his career at DTZ in Auckland, New Zealand, before moving to the London office where he worked in the investment and corporate finance teams. Since then, his career has taken him to Barings Real Estate Advisers, BGC Partners and also to co-found Indirex, a secure information exchange.
Mantra: “Strive to make a positive difference to people’s lives.”
Owner and managing director, Urbana Town Planning
What’s so trailblazing? In the sometimes grey world of planning, Murray and his team at Urbana like to work a little differently. They have a passion for the built environment and the way cities work. The Urbana mission is to provide exceptional, design-led planning expertise. The company has enjoyed a number of successes in strategic land planning and grand city projects, which demonstrate its ability to deliver a client’s brief with a flair rarely seen in the planning world.
Mantra: “If you love what you do, the results show.”
Director, Urbane London
What’s so trailblazing? Porter founded Urbane London with business partner Duncan Wilson. Urbane is a development company which delivers socially permeable, high-quality housing for London utilising MMC. Due to the flexible, factory-made nature of their homes, Urbane has an agile business model, which operates effectively on challenging London sites from micro (single plot) to macro (300-plus units). Prior to Urbane, Porter founded award-winning MMC practice Surface to Air Architects. She also founded Chicks with Bricks: a network dedicated to celebrating diversity in the property industry.
Mantra: “Standardise the invisible, customise the visible.”
MD and founder, One Global Property Services
What’s so trailblazing? Puddle began his career at London estate agency Hamptons International and five years later moved to Strutt & Parker where he spent a further six years working within the company’s residential development team, with a specialist focus on consultancy and overseas project marketing. In 2017, Puddle spotted an opportunity in the market and relocated with his family to Singapore, where he founded One Global Property Services, a boutique real estate agency business that specialises in international project marketing.
Mantra: “Live everyday like it’s your last. Never ever give up and always treat everyone that you come across in life in the same way that you would like to be treated yourself.”
Joseph Rajah/ Paul Dipino
CEO/CIO, Joseph Homes
What’s so trailblazing? Rajah and Dipino run a multi-award-winning residential-led development company. Its ‘live well’ manifesto puts the wellbeing of stakeholders at the forefront of all decision making. It is B-Corp-certified and one of fewer than 100 worldwide organisations to sign up to the WGBC net-zero building commitment. With a £1.1bn multisector pipeline of high-quality, highly sustainable, low-toxic property, Joseph Homes aims to raise the bar for the industry by building better homes for a better world.
Mantra: “If it’s funny, you’re not in trouble.”
Founder, MATTER . SPACE . SOUL
What’s so trailblazing? Reid is founder of MATTER . SPACE . SOUL, an innovative architecture and research lab shaping places for wellbeing. Starting from the social, psychological and emotional impacts of the built environment, the consultancy aims to create joyful, meaningful, enriching places and experiences and act as a catalyst for step-change in the industry. Reid is a passionate advocate for the power of design to create impact that matters, and regularly presents on socially conscious approaches to design.
Mantra: “Making change that matters with empathy, experimentation and curiosity for what could be possible.”
What’s so trailblazing? Salmons’ passion for innovating with technology spans 30 years and includes the first offset mortgages, the world’s largest parking app and the launch of contactless cards. He has held executive roles at NatWest, Barclays and Capital One, as well as an advisory board role at Roche. With Coadjute, Salmons is aiming to connect every business in the UK property market, enabling them to share data and documents instantly and securely from within their existing software platforms, doubling the speed of transactions. The Coadjute network will go live in early 2021.
Mantra: “Creativity is thinking up new things. Innovation is doing new things” – Theodore Levitt.
CEO, Kin Developments
What’s so trailblazing? Sanham is one of London’s most creative developers, combining 16 years’ experience of delivering mixed-tenure schemes with a drive to make a meaningful impact on London’s complex housing crisis. An engineer by education, Sanham began his development career at Urban Splash, before leading the delivery of Argent’s first affordable housing at King’s Cross and most recently becoming managing director of HUB. Slated to formally launch in November 2020, with two large, complex London sites already acquired, Sanham’s new business is backed by alternative investment specialists Mitheridge Capital Management.
Mantra: “Work honestly. Be clever. Be kind.”
What’s so trailblazing? Shearer trained at Cushman & Wakefield before setting up his own retail investment firm, Sandford Capital. Alongside his property work, he co-founded Semble, an activation agency that delivers community campaigns for companies wanting to deliver on their purpose. Clients include major fast-moving consumer goods brands and a number of leading property firms. Semble’s latest project is a corporate funding platform that allows companies to meet community initiatives. The ambition is to transform neighbourhoods from the grassroots up, fuelled with corporate backing.
Mantra: “It’s important to do the right thing.”
What’s so trailblazing? With a strong personal motivation for our ‘everyday heroes’ to be better served by the housing market, Tsiagbe is the founder of QIQO, a developer and operator of intermediate rented homes for single key workers. QIQO’s mission is to ensure that London’s essential workers are able to live within the communities they care for, protect and serve. While QIQO’s current geographic focus is on inner London, the need for affordable key worker housing is a common theme in major cities all over the world.
Mantra: “A business with a genuine purpose will always strive to meet a genuine need.”
Managing director, Jo Cowen Architects
What’s so trailblazing? While co-directing Jo Cowen Architects, Wilkinson undertakes a lead role in the concept and technical development of all major projects, with a key interest in MMC and innovative, sustainable technologies. Wilkinson maintains a close relationship with clients and consultants throughout the design process and takes pride in upholding key project concepts from start to finish. He is constantly looking for new and alternative perspectives on development sites, with a focus on providing efficient and commercially viable proposals that achieve the high design standards of the practice.
Mantra: “Never stop setting the pace and always deliver the best possible product.”
Strategic director of growth and development, Manchester City Council
What’s so trailblazing? Wyman took up the strategic director of growth and development role at Manchester City Council in June 2020. She oversees investment and development and has responsibility for planning, housing strategy, work and skills and inclusive growth. Previously, Wyman led the design and inclusive growth agenda at West Midlands Combined Authority and, as director of strategy and engagement at Homes England, was part of the team that established the government’s housing agency. Wyman led US and European urban renewal projects and was a member of the London Legacy Development Corporation planning committee with responsibility for developing London’s 2012 Olympic Park.
Mantra: “I’m passionate about creating healthy, green and inclusive cities.”