Jen Lemen, chartered surveyor and co-founder of Property Elite and Projekt, on how she got started in property, her cultural tips, the superpower she wishes she had and her number-one travel destination.
How did you join the property industry?
After dropping out of a sports science degree, I was inspired by my dad and granddad – both chartered surveyors – to enter the industry. It brought back memories of visiting shopping centres in the summer holidays with my dad as part of his job when I was growing up. I then worked hard on a day release/distance-learning degree course while working full-time, culminating in becoming an MRICS and later FRICS.
What does your job entail?
Nearly five years ago, I co-founded Property Elite, which provides training and support to APC, AssocRICS and FRICS candidates, as well as a property consultancy, Projekt. I have also been writing a book, How to Become a Chartered Surveyor, which has just been published.
What do you like most about the property industry?
No one day is the same. The people I meet are so varied and interesting and there is always something fascinating to learn about the built environment.
And what do you dislike most about it?
Sometimes a resistance to change or to do things differently. Also having to explain what a surveyor is most times I meet someone new, ie I don’t count bricks!
What would you change about the property industry?
I’d make it far more accessible to younger people. There are some fantastic careers in the property industry and we need to get the message out more widely.
What barriers or challenges have you overcome?
Being (relatively) young, female and gay, I have needed to overcome various challenges. However, I have worked with and been mentored by some wonderful people, such as my business partner Rachel, who have pushed me forward and given me the opportunities to succeed.
What are you most proud of in your career?
Growing Property Elite into an established, market-leading business and watching our candidates succeed. The personal element is a real sense of pride, as I have a positive impact on people, their careers and their lives. Running a business has also given me the opportunity to learn new skills and I have real satisfaction in doing it for ourselves, not for someone else.
What do you value in people?
Honesty and integrity – my motto in life is just to be a nice human being. I also value a good sense of humour and an appetite to give anything a go.
What advice would you give someone starting a career in the property industry?
The first few years are about learning and experiencing as much as you can – no task is too insignificant or trivial that you cannot learn something from it.