Beth McQue, planning and development manager at Keyland Developments, on how she got started in the industry. She also shares her cultural recommendations and her number-one travel destination.
How did you join the property industry?
During the first term of my geography degree, I carried out a subsidiary module in town planning, which I loved. I realised I had picked the wrong course and went on to rectify this by completing a masters in town planning as soon as I graduated. During this time, I started working for a planning consultancy in Leeds, which led to me working for Keyland several years later. I have not looked back since.
What does your job entail?
I work as part of Keyland’s planning team, managing many of the sites within the portfolio through the planning system. This involves working closely with our consultant teams to promote sites through the Local Plan process, with an ultimate aim of getting the best market-facing planning consent possible before we go to market. I am also responsible for searching for new site opportunities through the business’s Planning Promotion Agreement initiative.
What do you like most about the property industry?
Life is never boring in the property industry. Every day is different and I love that my job creates real, tangible change, particularly in light of Keyland’s ambitions to lead the way with sustainable development across the region.
And what do you dislike most about it?
I struggle with NIMBYism. A usual line you hear at public consultations for new developments is: ‘I understand there is a housing crisis, and I’m not against development, but this site is not the answer.’ I often think people do not understand the severity of the housing crisis within this country – something we are all doing our best to help with.
What do you want to change about the property industry?
There is still a lot of work to be done on equality, diversity and inclusion within the industry. I work with a large number of companies across the industry, and more often than not they are usually the more senior people within their teams. It is disappointing to see that I am often the only female in the majority of meetings I have. We still have some way to go in ensuring gender equality within senior positions in the property industry.
What are you most proud of in your career?
Becoming a chartered town planner.
What do you value in people?
Honesty, a positive work attitude and a good sense of humour.
What advice would you give someone starting a career in the property industry?
Learn by osmosis. I am grateful that I have always worked for companies where the senior teams were very present; they were not separated in their own offices, which helped me hugely in the early stages of my career. Take in as much as you can each day, and do not stop asking questions.
Networking from the start of your career is also incredibly important. Do not be afraid to get involved. If it is daunting, then seek out events and networks that are tailored to junior people. The property industry is a small world and many of the connections you make at a junior level will follow through as you progress through your career.