Tamra Booth, managing director of Sorbon Estates, 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?
Practicality and common sense. Qualifications are less important; it’s more about personality and the ability to engage with our tenants.
What does your job entail?
It’s a very supportive role, managing and supporting the team and the tenants. I’m very involved in the design process, repurposing our properties, the layout, look and feel, as well as managing leases and reviewing potential tenant businesses. The team are the ones on the ground doing all the work – arguably my decision-making role is the easy bit.
How did you join the industry?
I grew up being dragged around building sites, so it’s in my blood, I’ve always had the property bug. I fell in love with the commercial side of the business and, having also been a tenant, I understand both sides.
What do you like most about the property industry?
The deals and finding out about other people’s businesses and lives; it’s interesting, and it’s a physical, tangible business where you can see the results when you design a property layout. I also love seeing our tenants flourish; it’s fantastic to watch and I’m really proud of many of them.
And what do you dislike most about it?
The perception of being a landlord is difficult. It’s a negative word and it isn’t great for the team when the landlord gets the blame; you have to be thick-skinned. The perception is that we take the rent and sit back, but it’s not true. We buy, retain and care about our properties and look after our tenants as best we can.
What barriers or challenges have you overcome?
The current retail climate and the risk of asset values dropping is an ongoing challenge. For us, the solution is in the long-term vision of the business. We introduced a pop-up-shop scheme in 2012, which has been great for filling units, supporting small businesses and keeping the high street thriving.
What are you most proud of in your career?
Building a fantastic team. I absolutely love finding great people; it’s so important, and if my team is happy then I’m happy. When they help to sustain and care about the business, then I’ve done my job.
What advice would you give someone starting a career in the property industry?
Think about the future and how you can make a difference with fantastic buildings and properties and helping high streets thrive. Look at a property – see and understand it. Learn practical skills and take an interest in building and presentation, rather than just seeing it as a commercial deal that will make money. Yes, we need to generate income, but we also need to care about the properties and tenants.
What do you want to change about the property industry?
I’d love to see more creative people in property who could make a difference. Those interested in creating buildings and designs we can appreciate and enjoy for a long, long time. There also need to be more women in the industry. Women are well-suited to commercial property and managing tenants.
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