Jamie Bunce, CEO of retirement living operator Inspired Villages, on how he got started in property, his top book and song picks, the historical figure he’d like to befriend and his number-one travel destination.
How did you join the property industry?
I went straight into the property industry after leaving school aged 16. First, I joined a building contractor, then I moved on to retail development before entering the senior living space in 2008.
What does your job entail?
Driving a purpose-led culture in a rapidly growing sector that positively influences people’s lives. The retirement living space is still a nascent one in the UK, and building awareness of the benefits of living in our communities and energising colleagues to share that desire to make a positive difference is a big part of my role.
What do you like most about the property industry?
I get hugely motivated by creating tangible, long-lasting assets that make a real difference to people’s lives. I love that we essentially create a legacy in the property industry.
And what do you dislike most about it?
How long it takes for things to get done.
What would you change about the property industry?
I wish we could streamline and simplify the whole process, so we could devote more time and energy to creating beautiful real estate that gave people more options as they go through the different stages of life.
What barriers or challenges have you overcome?
I was not the best student at school and, in fact, returned to night school throughout my twenties to get the qualifications I missed out on the first time around, so I have not followed the traditional career path typical of most chief executives in the property industry.
Making sure I continue to evolve professionally and personally is a challenge I set myself. I am pleased with how far I have come, although I always believe there is more to be done.
What are you most proud of in your career?
I am most proud of securing a £250m equity investment from Legal & General to establish Inspired Villages in 2017 and then securing a further £250m to form a £500m joint venture investment between Legal & General and NatWest Group Pension Fund in 2021 to take the scale of the business even further. To have the backing of two major pension funds is a wonderful vote of confidence.
What do you value in people?
Integrity, honesty, a keen attention to detail and simplicity.
What advice would you give someone starting a career in the property industry?
My advice would be to continually push yourself out of your comfort zone, because where there is a will you will find a way to go wherever your drive takes you.