Liz Cashon, innovation campus manager at York Biotech Campus, on how she got started in property, her favourite book and album, her number-one travel destination and how she’d spend a million pounds.
How did you join the property industry?
In my previous role as the director of inward investment at Leeds City Region Local Enterprise Partnership, I worked with the property sector on a day-to-day basis by supporting businesses that were looking to find bigger premises or helping new ones find their first property. From there, I knew I wanted a more hands-on role in the industry, and I am happy that I am now able to do so at York Biotech Campus, a leading science park based in Yorkshire.
What does your job entail?
As the campus innovation manager at York Biotech Campus, I oversee everything from promoting office and lab space and managing new leases to looking after our current occupiers and handling any expansions they need on site.
What do you like most about the property industry?
Some wouldn’t agree, but I think the industry’s unpredictability is great – it is exciting! Factors such as supply and demand and the economy can make the sector dynamic.
And what do you dislike most about it?
From my experience in the science property sector, it can be difficult when there is a demand out there for a particular type of property or product, such as specialised lab space, and having to quickly fulfil this for a client.
What would you change about the property industry?
There is a lot of pressure on landlords and occupiers to meet net zero goals, but with few incentives from the government. It is important to make changes set out in the strategy for our planet and future generations, but businesses that do make the necessary – but often expensive – changes should be rewarded.
What barriers or challenges have you overcome?
I had always said I would never do a masters, as I knew it would be a challenge to complete while working full-time – and it was exactly that! I completed my masters in urban regeneration in 2006, which I found rewarding as it gave me an early look into the property sector and its landscape.
What are you most proud of in your career?
Transforming the campus into the place it is today. When I joined in 2015, my aim was to expand the types of businesses based on site from a limited number of government associations to a wider range of bioscience organisations to create a major science hub in Yorkshire, and consequently the UK. We are now home to a whole host of businesses, from start-ups to scale-ups, encompassing all realms of biotech.
What do you value in people?
I really value honesty and being able to have open discussions with people. It is the only way to do business.
What advice would you give someone starting a career in the property industry?
Always consider apprenticeships, as they offer good routes into the industry. Also, it is important to get as much relevant experience as you can; you really cannot put a value on experience and the connections you will make through it.