Dan Drogman, chief executive and co-founder of Smart Spaces, on how he got started in property, his favourite film and book, the historical figure he’d most like to meet and the most ridiculous fact he knows.
How did you join the property industry?
I went from university straight into a job as a web developer for a boutique marketing agency specialising in property. It was clear from a young age that I had a knack for computer programming and a passion for tech.
What does your job entail?
I split my weeks between sales, operations, HR and finance, but I am lucky enough to spend a lot of my time with my team at Smart Spaces developing our product – that is my passion.
What do you like most about the property industry?
Property is completely baked into our existence, summed up nicely by the old adage that ‘food, water and shelter’ are life’s essential components. Architecture is obviously a significant part of this, and I find it gratifying that my role is to make buildings as technologically smart as they look.
And what do you dislike most about it?
The relationship between landlords and tenants has historically been complex. Hopefully, Smart Spaces plays a part in improving those relationships through our software platform by facilitating, among other things, smoother and more advanced operations of properties.
What would you change about the industry?
Property has not historically been associated with innovation and it is hugely rewarding to see the contribution it is making to our workplaces and real estate placemaking, and how the industry is now embracing tech and recognising its value.
What barriers or challenges have you overcome?
I think for all software companies, adoption is the biggest challenge. The levels of engagement we are now reaching show that we have found what it takes to achieve this.
What are you most proud of in your career?
My brother and I founded the business more than a decade ago. It has grown from one bright idea to a company with more than 40 employees, powering almost 40m sq ft of global real estate, which, upon reflection, is an immense achievement. I have had some incredible mentors over the years who have helped me navigate the market. I am proud to say that some of these mentors are now Smart Spaces’ clients.
What do you value in people?
I value honesty, diligence and a good attitude, which all go a long way in making working life productive and enjoyable. I love working with motivated, friendly people and I always strive to live these values myself and encourage my team towards this positive frame of mind. I have learned that listening has immense value in helping my team reach their potential, as well as helping me, of course. We never stop learning!
What advice would you give someone starting a career in the property industry?
For anyone going into the property industry, regardless of the field, I would recommend they embrace technology. It is clear which direction we are headed in, and a good understanding of how to leverage technology can unlock so many doors and stand you in good stead throughout your career..
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