Lawrence Owho, a consultant at AspinallVerdi, on how he got started in property, the challenges he has overcome and what he wants to change about the industry. He also shares his cultural recommendations.
What do you value in people?
Respect, honesty and open-mindedness.
How did you join the property industry?
After sixth form, I planned to go to university and study Chemical Engineering. But after seeing an advert on TV about apprenticeships, I did some research into it and decided it was a much better deal than traditional university, mainly due to the work experience I would gain in addition to studying.
After searching on the apprenticeship website, I came across the opportunity at AspinallVerdi. Although I didn’t fully understand what it entailed, I was reassured that I would receive the support, patience and guidance I needed throughout the apprenticeship programme.
What does your job entail?
I advise a range of clients including local authorities, landowners and developers on a range of property issues including ensuring the viability of emerging local plan policies, CIL reviews, advising on employment land studies and helping councils with strategies for the regeneration of town centres across the country.
What do you like most about the property industry?
I like how varied the industry is. I have been involved in a wide range of projects, each with different characteristics and challenges that have allowed me to broaden my knowledge base. Furthermore, I also learn good lessons that I then use in future projects.
And what do you dislike most about it?
I dislike that there is a distinct lack of diversity in the industry. However, I know this is something that RICS is putting a lot of effort and resources into changing, which is encouraging. It is also something I am passionate about, and I hope to be more involved in raising awareness of the opportunities the industry provides.
What barriers or challenges have you overcome?
There was an extremely steep learning curve, especially in the first year of the apprenticeship. But from day one I have received a lot of support from my senior colleagues. I have learnt from co-consultants and received a great deal of support from my university (University College of Estate Management), which recognises that apprentices might need extra support getting familiar with online learning.
I have been involved in different projects across the country and over time, I have seen my confidence grow alongside my knowledge and understanding of the industry. This has all resulted in me now starting to lead on some projects.
What do you want to change about the property industry?
I would like to change the long-winded nature of certain parts of the planning system.
I would advocate for a more ‘common-sense’ approach to be taken, especially when it comes to affordable housing provision.