The development director at Dysart Developments on how he got started in property, his number-one travel destination, his favourite TV show and book series and the best and worst things he has bought.

Mike Clark

Mike Clark

How did you join the property industry?

My journey in the property industry started more than 40 years ago, as a local government housing officer in 1981.

My role in local government morphed over the years from housing management into public services, development, planning and ultimately becoming a chief executive. This background has, in comparison to most of my current colleagues, given me a different perspective on the industry.

As a ‘fully fledged’ member of the property industry, I still maintain my involvement with local government through membership of local partnerships and the like.

What does your job entail?

Everything from land assembly, masterplanning and the delivery of multi-million-pound developments, to providing heritage footpaths and memorials to fallen steelworkers. The diversity of my job, along with the various roles I take on board, helps me keep grounded and appreciate that small initiatives sometimes mean a lot to people.

What do you like most about the property industry?

Development and delivering on the ground have always given me some personal satisfaction. Development in the context of regional growth through investment and job creation, providing good-quality homes and facilities, should be a focus for us all in the North East if the region is to get on a par with the rest of the country.

The development industry is key to this growth, and being part of that makes me very proud.

And what do you dislike most about it?

Honestly, nothing. As is the case with every other sector, there is occasion to regret that society and business generally have moved on over the years and we have perhaps lost some of our pride in the quality and impact of our work in favour of a keener focus on the bottom line.

What would you change about the property industry?

I would like to change people’s perception of the property industry. Generally, I get frustrated by the external view of our industry, which perceives developers to be money-grabbers and purely profit-driven. It is important to maintain positive relationships with the public sector and our communities, so that the benefits that are being delivered can be better realised.

What barriers or challenges have you overcome?

Moving from the public sector into the private sector as a ‘newbie’ in the industry was a big challenge and barrier.

What are you most proud of in your career?

I could give a catalogue of projects carried out, developments finished, buildings completed, awards received, communities sustained and people helped. However, pride as they say goes before a fall. Suffice to say that I get quiet satisfaction when I think about those things.

What do you value in people?

Honesty: whatever the issue, I respect people who are honest in either their appraisal or actions. This puts everyone on the same page and able to deal with any issue collectively. I also value humour, because life and survival sometimes just need a bit of a laugh. Resilience helps, too. And, as my wife would say, it is important to “own your own s**t”.

What advice would you give someone starting a career in the property industry?

I would probably suggest that you do something else first, preferably something that helps you understand people and other sectors – public or voluntary.

Top recommendations

Favourite destination:

It has to be Barcelona, simply because as the promotion says ‘Barcelona is always a good idea’. Apart from the Covid period, we have been twice a year for the past 10 years. It is a fabulous city with a wonderful culture and great people.

Favourite TV show:

I am binge-watching Silent Witness. It is full of twists and turns and is very interesting, even if there are occasionally depressing storylines. As an essay on society, it also helps me understand man’s inhumanity to man, and from a positive point of view shows that resilience and tenacity generally bring results.

Favourite read:

The historical novels by Patrick O’Brian, about the seafaring adventures of Captain Aubrey during the Napoleonic wars, are a good yarn based on historic events, and are full of detail and adventure. 

Best and worse purchases:

The best money I have spent was the building I bought for my wife to operate her business from. Watching and being part of her business and personal growth put me on cloud nine. Worst… I am terrible for buying shirts that don’t fit. I have this view of my physique that doesn’t compare to the reality of my out-of-condition body.