George Aberdeen, co-founder of Kinrise, on how he got started in the property industry, his top music and podcast picks, his number-one travel destination and the superpower he wishes he had.
How did you join the property industry?
I have known since a young age that I wanted a career in real estate. My father was a commercial property developer with London and Edinburgh Trust and I used to spend time in his office in Knightsbridge growing up. The enthusiasm he had for his work was contagious, the excitement of doing deals passed on to me, and before long I found myself studying real estate at Oxford Brookes University and then on to the graduate scheme at Knight Frank.
What does your job entail?
I am the co-founder of Kinrise, a property investment business focused on restoring historic buildings into characterful work and cultural spaces. I lead on asset management, handling the acquisition of new sites around the UK. In the past year, we have expanded our portfolio to a total of 11 buildings and now own and operate more than 500,000 sq ft of space.
What do you like most about the property industry?
Property is an industry full of characters from all walks of life and it suits me as there is a lot of time spent out and about. I enjoy spending time with other people, from the professional teams involved in the acquisition and redesign of our buildings to the tenants and communities we work with.
And what do you dislike most about it?
Landlord and tenant legislation needs to modernise. It is designed to protect the tenant and in a way it does; but we are locked in rigid systems that hamper flexibility and create confusing lease-up situations that tenants often do not fully understand.
What would you change about the property industry?
I would put tighter restrictions on demolishing buildings to encourage a better quality of refurbishment. There is a huge environmental impact in putting a building into landfill and even if a state-of-the-art carbon-neutral building is built, it takes decades to truly get back into credit.
What barriers or challenges have you overcome?
We established Kinrise relatively early in our careers and embarked on a steep learning curve. There are lots of barriers to entry, particularly meeting compliance requirements and sourcing capital, but we managed it.
What are you most proud of in your career?
I am proud of all of us for building a great business despite some significant headwinds, notably following the EU referendum and then the pandemic. Covid has been a huge challenge but we have kept in close communication with our tenants and worked through it together. We are now back to (almost) full rent payments and buildings filled with lots of happy tenants.
What do you value in people?
With everyone I work with, I value competence, character and chemistry first and foremost.
What advice would you give someone starting a career in the property industry?
The big mistake people ask themselves when starting out is ‘what do I want to do?’ rather than ‘why do I want to do it?’. It sounds a bit cheesy but it will stand you in good stead for a much more fulfilling career.