Charlotte Crawley, culture and experience director at Navana Property Group, on how she got started in property, the challenges she has overcome and her advice for someone starting out in the industry.
What do you value in people?
Honesty and empathy. In property, we are making places for people, so these are values that matter.
What do you like most about yourself?
The tenacity to keep moving forward.
What does your job entail?
My job is to get people thinking in terms of people, not just bricks-and-mortar; how people use their homes, offices and shops, and how can we improve their experience through better design, management and digital tools. I am currently rolling out Navana’s customer experience programme, which empowers our onsite property management teams to put strategy into action and shape what ‘good’ looks like at their developments.
How did you join the property industry?
I joined the industry in 2006 when I worked at Evans Property Group. Before that, I had related roles in hospitality, retail and facilities management. My work in hospitality probably shaped my view on customer experience the most. It is such a lazy trope that hiring talent from hospitality will automatically deliver excellent service; we need to identify where skills cross over, but also understand that most people want different things from the places where they live, work and socialise.
What do you like most about the property industry?
My dad was a doctor and I think that made me want to have a positive impact on people’s lives. Property may not seem the obvious choice, but it gave me the stable career I needed as a single mum while also allowing me to reach people of all backgrounds, cultures and abilities. Property is the thread that runs through all lives, industries and communities.
And what do you dislike most about it?
It can be slow to change. If the past year taught us anything, it is that businesses must listen to customers and adapt to their needs. It is actually why I joined Navana – I couldn’t miss the opportunity to be part of a company that is building from the ground up by putting the customer at the heart of its approach.
What barriers or challenges have you overcome?
From 2006 until about 2014, there were very few people in my type of role and it could often feel like a lonely battle. Back then, most property decision-makers viewed customer experience as a nice-to-have – an extra to bolt on. I really had to persevere to get into a position where people listened and started to see the value of what we do and its impact on the bottom line.
What are you most proud of in your career?
The fact I have stayed committed to my belief in customer experience and its power to make places work better for people and drive commercial success for businesses. To be chosen to lead this practice for Navana was a big moment. I am here and the team is supporting and listening to me – that feels pretty good.
What advice would you give someone starting a career in the property industry?
Always remember that there are people in the properties – people who are caring for their families, running businesses and living their lives. Let that guide your thinking and you won’t go too far wrong.