Mark Hawthorn, chief executive of Landmark Group, on how he got started in property. He also shares his cultural recommendations, his best and worst purchases and the one superpower he wishes he had.
How did you join the property industry?
I have been in property and investment all my working life. I started as a 16-year-old office junior, 25 years ago, on the princely sum of £40 per week (£74 in 2021 money). A few years later, in 2000, I established Landmark Group. I went from the corporate bottom rung to business owner in one move, while my income dropped to £0.
What does your job entail?
At Landmark Group, we have quite the spread of operations, so every day as the CEO is unique and they rarely play out as expected – such is the volume of opportunities and activity generated. Our core investment portfolio is approaching £200m in value, with a further £100m legal pipeline. LDS Sales Guarantees, a Landmark Group business, has so far cleared £1.3bn of sales guarantees issued in 2021.
What do you like most about the property industry?
The people and social side, having met most of my closest friends through working in the industry.
And what do you dislike most about it?
We rally against this daily, but still almost everything takes far longer than it needs to, especially with all the tech out there. We’re aiming to change this; it takes only two minutes to generate a bespoke sales guarantee proposal through our online proptech engine.
What would you change about the property industry?
There is a phrase Amazon uses: “We love it…but let’s change everything.” So, planning, legals, finance, regulation – you name it, there is massive room for improvement.
What barriers or challenges have you overcome?
I started out completely unqualified, unconnected and with absolutely no money. I’m still unqualified!
What are you most proud of in your career?
Our progress to date coupled with the fact we never, ever rest on our laurels. The size of Landmark Group’s portfolio has increased eight-fold over the past eight years, and we are consistently beating our own records. I am also very proud of our Xmas Party Heroes campaign, which raised more than £1.5m last year for a range of charities that had suffered funding losses due to the pandemic. It was amazing to see the massive support from businesses, especially from the property industry. We even received special recognition from the prime minister – Boris Johnson congratulated us in person on the campaign’s success.
What do you value in people?
Curiosity, pragmatism, integrity, work ethic and a general willingness to learn at all levels.
What advice would you give someone starting a career in the property industry?
Meet as many people as possible – quantity over quality as you start, which should lead to both as you progress. Many years ago, I got myself known as the young lad who would turn up at short notice if somebody dropped out of an event, which led to meeting lots of people I still work with today.