Alex Gibbs, co-founder and director of Built Asset Management (BAM), on how he got started in property, his top film and book recommendations, his best and worst purchases and his favourite travel destinations.

Alex Gibbs

Alex Gibbs

How did you join the property industry?

Initially as an investor within residential property. There was a point not long after I moved to London at which I was both a landlord to young professionals and a young professional tenant. The medley of frustrations experienced led to the concept of a high-performing co-living operator, which eventually led to BAM.

What does your job entail?

I still run BAM, along with my business partner. One of my favourite things about creating and running a business is the variety that it entails. One day I can be doing top-line financial analysis of a competitor that we may be looking to acquire, the next I might be tweaking a policy on optimal kitchen storage space per person.

What do you like most about the property industry?

I enjoy the fact that we simultaneously provide both a product and a service, and I love the fact that our product and service are likely to be the biggest purchase decision that our customers make in a given year. The importance of this keeps us sharp and serves as the perfect motivation to continually improve our offering.

And what do you dislike most about it?

I am sure that people in many industries feel this way but the ever-changing and fragmented regulatory landscape – in combination with the mounting, punitive fiscal measures – has felt quite challenging over the last half-decade or so within the sector.

What would you change about the property industry?

Specifically, I believe there is huge room for improvement in the ways people are matched with properties on a national and global scale, and the ways in which we interact with the built environment from a technology perspective.

What barriers or challenges have you overcome?

This is not unique to me, but the challenge of establishing a business in a hugely competitive sector, gaining credibility, creating momentum and recruiting great people is a really tough one. There is a quip that flies around: “As an early-stage entrepreneur I slept like a baby – I woke up every hour and cried.” That sums it up pretty nicely!

What are you most proud of in your career?

The fact that we boot-strapped the business with no external funding and scaled it organically to a position whereby it underwrites over £300m worth of London real estate and has housed over 5,000 professionals.

What do you value in people?

Positivity, proactivity and resourcefulness, all within the context of trustworthiness as a prerequisite.

What advice would you give someone starting a career in the property industry?

The same advice I would give to someone starting out in any other sector: to be honest. Try things, expose yourself to different tasks and environments, and find where your greatest strengths lie. Experience tells me that an underperformer in one silo can be an absolute superstar in another.