Sarah Hayford, founder of The Land Collective and Sqft Digital, on how she got started in property, the challenges she has overcome and her advice for young people. She also shares her cultural recommendations.
What do you value in people?
Gratitude, integrity and humility – these are three massive qualities that I was raised on, and I really appreciate them in other people.
What does your job entail?
My job at the moment is currently split between running and managing The Land Collective and running my student marketing and recruitment agency Sqft Digital. Luckily, the two work in partnership, which takes some pressure off! By running Sqft Digital, I’m responsible for creating marketing campaigns surrounding graduate programmes for companies across the sector. I also work on placing amazing students from our network into graduate roles at smaller firms across the property industry.
What do you like most about the property industry?
How people-focused it is. You have the opportunity to meet and work with so many different people on a daily basis and it really shapes your experience positively. I have learned so much about the industry, the world and myself through meeting others, and I am very thankful for that.
And what do you dislike most about it?
I still don’t think it’s accessible enough to get into, especially from a working-class, BAME background. The schools you went to and the people and role models that you have around you are all super-important, and I don’t believe firms are reaching out enough to target these places. Property is all about people and as an industry, we need to do more to ensure that more and more people from different backgrounds are represented, so different voices can be heard.
What barriers or challenges have you overcome?
I definitely would say my health. As someone who has suffered from mild epilepsy from childhood, I find that it’s definitely a challenge that I have to overcome again and again, as it does put you in a state of fear at times. That’s why I volunteer with research charities such as Epilepsy Action, to try and raise awareness about the condition and also to dispel any myths and misconceptions that surround it.
What advice would you give someone starting a career in the property industry?
Networking across is just as important as networking up. Yes, it’s always great to meet and speak to a director of a department at a firm you’d like to join eventually, but do try and place equal importance on networking with your fellow peers. Once you enter the industry, you realise it’s quite small; lots of people know each other from university and have even gone on to start consultancies and invest with their peers.
What do you want to change about the property industry?
The industry does need to become more diverse, to ensure carbon copies aren’t being churned out every year. This mostly relates to initial access and retaining diverse talent in companies so that people don’t go elsewhere to be fulfilled career-wise.