Federica Buricco, associate at CallisonRTKL, on how she got started in property, her book and podcast recommendations, her number-one travel destination and the historical figure she’d pick to be her friend.
How did you join the property industry?
I studied architecture at Polytechnic University of Milan, which specialises in engineering, architecture and design. Following this, I worked at a number of firms in Italy, Switzerland and the UK designing large-scale residential, commercial, hotel and mixed-use projects across Europe, the UK and as far as the MENA regions.
What does your job entail?
I specialise in designing masterplans and mixed-use schemes, often transforming underutilised sites into vibrant new activity hubs. Often these will be focused around new infrastructure, such as Borgo del Forte in Italy or Station Hill in Reading.
What do you like most about the property industry?
The power of transforming and regenerating, making a positive socioeconomic impact on existing communities or creating new ones. I like that no project is the same and every one presents a new challenge. I also love that the industry is in constant transformation, able to capture and often anticipate citizens’ needs.
And what do you dislike most about it?
Often I see developments that have quite a narrow focus on commercial value and returns when in fact, by taking a longer-term approach and investing in the wider perspective of where and how the development fits into its urban context, these schemes would be more successful and perform with lasting value across a wider and holistic set of values.
What would you change about the property industry?
We should care more about the environment, be actively involved with communities and appreciate the impact of well-designed spaces on people’s wellbeing.
What barriers or challenges have you overcome?
For some years, I felt like I had been talking about sustainability and community impact to clients but it would fall on deaf ears, but thankfully today these discussions are more open and there is a better awareness of ESG.
What are you most proud of in your career?
Being flexible and resilient, and riding out the shocks from the financial crisis, Brexit and the pandemic, which have all impacted the industry in a big way. During these times, it takes a certain level of resilience to keep doing what you love.
What do you value in people?
I value knowledge and creativity. Being able to create beautiful things takes a certain level of sensitivity and empathy; that is probably one of the few things that still can’t be replicated by artificial intelligence.
What advice would you give someone starting a career in the property industry?
Diligence and persistence are key. Be entrepreneurial and keep your eyes wide open. Nowadays, things change so quickly that the ‘most successful’ position in the industry still doesn’t actually exist. Flexibility is a prerequisite. Never stop educating yourself, be curious and constantly keep up with the latest global trends.