My recording studio locked down in March, so the Propertyshe podcast series continued digitally.
My aim is to capture the thoughts and aspirations of key influencers. Each guest has been an inspiration. Below are some of the highlights.
Pre-lockdown, I interviewed Dror Poleg, whose award winning book Rethinking Real Estate pinpointed key trends. Talking about a ‘tectonic shift’ he said: “Almost anything that is happening in retail I think will also happen in offices and residential.” Poleg has been in much demand to read the runes as the pandemic accelerated those changes.
Talking retail, Appear Here founder Ross Bailey told me: “People forget sometimes just how bad a lot of retail is; a lot of it is just boring.” The retail theme continued with Ellandi’s Mark Robinson, chairman of the High Streets Task Force. The self-styled ‘retail apocalypse denier’ summed up the difficulty of retail investment: “If fundamentally you can’t tell me whether a place is a success, how can I invest in it?” He half-jokingly said he expected to spend the next 15 years “demolishing all the stuff that has been built” and was excited about the “creative destruction on steroids” happening in the industry.
In April, I interviewed Peter Pereira Grey of Wellcome Trust, who was spearheading global fundraising to find a Covid vaccine. His quiet confidence that we would have a vaccine by the end of the year was thankfully proved right.
Covid travel restrictions grounded renowned designer Thomas Heatherwick, providing a unique opportunity to interview him from his bedroom about his eclectic projects including Coal Drops Yard, King’s Cross, and The Vessel in New York.
I also interviewed some New York guests. Convene CEO’s Ryan Simonett’s response to Covid was to pivot the business to create an exciting hybrid events platform that will involve data and gaming theory. And Equiem founder Gab McMillan, whose tenant experience apps are a lifeline connecting remote workers to offices, has used the lemons of lockdown to make lemonade. Both show the huge importance of proptech and data to real estate.
Healthy building expert Raefer Wallis joined me from Shanghai to spotlight air-quality, arguing that real estate has been “asleep at the wheel”. He noted that it takes a pandemic to get people to respond.
TfL’s Graeme Craig and Grainger CEO Helen Gordon were both guests and I was pleased to see their JV, Connected Living London, which is on a mission to provide London with some of the best housing at all tenures, win the coveted RESI Awards PRS Deal of the Year award. It was clear from both interviews that this was an exceptional collaboration. Craig said of the JV: “It’s gone amazingly well. They’ve been a superb partner for us.” Gordon commented that Craig “runs an amazing team”.
My final 2020 interview with Grosvenor Britain & Ireland CEO James Raynor marked the launch of its Pathway to Net Zero in 2030. This aim can only be achieved by collaborating with tenants, suppliers and communities. As Raynor said: “If you don’t work in partnership, this just won’t work.”
Susan Freeman is a partner at Mishcon de Reya. Listen to her podcast, produced in association with The London Real Estate Forum, at www.mishcon.com/propertyshe