Zach Douglas, CEO and co-founder of serviced office provider Orega, on how he got started in property, his top film and album picks, the celebrity he’d most like to meet and the most ridiculous fact he knows.
How did you join the property industry?
As a salesperson for Regus in 1996 – one of a team of six in the UK in its not particularly prestigious office in Schooner Court, Dartford. I graduated to The Forbury, in Reading, One Canada Square, Docklands, and then throughout the Thames Valley on various new centre openings.
What does your job entail?
As CEO and co-founder, my role is to oversee the growth and strategic direction of the business and to make sure we challenge ourselves across all areas such as customer service, employee satisfaction and profitability. Ultimately, I see myself as the custodian of the Orega brand and values.
What do you like most about the property industry?
Working at a senior level with occupier organisations to deliver their ambitions. Advising and accommodating some of the world’s largest businesses is both exciting and fulfilling. I enjoy that the property industry is a relationship-driven industry. I count among my friends many who I started working with in the mid-1990s.
And what do you dislike most about it?
The gestation period of property deals. As a provider of flex space, we are used to a fast-paced environment where deals are often crafted and signed within days. When it comes to our dealings with the conventional property world, it often feels like time loses its meaning with so many layers of advisers.
What would you change about the property industry?
The outdated views on property valuation as they pertain to valuing income from management agreement flex providers. The property industry needs to catch up with the changing world and accept that lease lengths are reducing, and occupiers want to be treated as customers, not just tenants.
What barriers or challenges have you overcome?
Initial prejudices against the serviced office sector. Over the past 25 years, we have overcome the lack of understanding against what was seen as unimportant, low-grade space for start-ups and is now widely recognised as a significant part of most global occupiers’ property strategy. I am proud to have played a part in that journey.
What are you most proud of in your career?
Being part of the growth of the flex market and its improved status within the office market. Also, what we have all achieved at Orega. From a start-up business in 2000, we have managed to survive three economic downturns, now employ more than 100 people and are widely recognised in the industry as one of the best at what we do.
What do you value in people?
Tenacity, resilience and honesty. These traits have kept our business at the forefront of the flex industry and made sure that we are the solid, reliable and customer-focused business we are today.
What advice would you give someone starting a career in the property industry?
Be prepared for change and always look for the angles. Listen and learn but don’t be a follower.