A past secondee from Bruce Gillingham Pollard to Landsec explains how such schemes work for all parties

Sophie Moorcroft

Sophie Moorcroft

I joined the graduate scheme at property agent Bruce Gillingham Pollard (BGP) from the University of Reading in 2017, qualified in May 2020 and worked with both the national and London leasing teams before being seconded to Landsec.

My experience over the past five years has been built on advising landlords in the retail and food and beverage (F&B) sectors. This has involved assisting clients with placemaking by securing established and new brands looking to grow their physical presence, while also advising property owners with existing assets or developments on issues such as market activity, who and what will enhance their assets, investment performance and their customers’ experience.

BGP has a long-standing relationship with Landsec and this led to an opportunity for me to be seconded to the business for 15 months. Over the first six months, my role evolved as Landsec introduced its customer-centric approach to retail and F&B leasing.

The strategy centres on forging closer relationships with existing and emerging brands, with the intention of enhancing Landsec’s retail destinations and creating shopper experiences that cannot easily be replicated online. The initiative also saw BGP appointed as one of five agents on Landsec’s national retail and F&B panel.

Successful secondments

Secondments must work for all parties. Your employer must be prepared for you to work elsewhere for a period; the party taking you on secondment must have a need (in this case maternity cover); and the person going on secondment must embrace the challenges and opportunities inherent to such a placement.

The main challenge is getting up and running fast. You need to grasp what is required and get to know the company environment and the people you are working with and reporting to, while quickly defining your role.

The opportunities can be enormous – in my case, getting exposure to the corporate world, working on exceptional assets and engaging with aspects of real estate with which I was less familiar. It can also provide clarity on where you see your own career progressing.

Through all this, your employer retains a full duty of care despite you working elsewhere. As such, there must be mechanisms in place to monitor how you are getting on. You need to remain connected and in contact and have a plan for when you return, so you are fully and positively reintegrated.

Similarly, while you are not a member of its permanent staff, the company you move to must look after you, mentor you and integrate you into its workplace. Both BGP and Landsec were exemplary in these respects.

Fresh perspective

Overall, the greatest benefit of a secondment is getting a fresh perspective. I moved from an advisory role to the client side and that gave me a deeper understanding of the client mindset and the ‘bigger picture’ that a major business such as Landsec has to factor into everything it does.

Having returned from secondment, I have now moved over to the investment side of the business and feel my time at Landsec broadened my perspective on the sector.

Parachuting into another business can be a daunting experience, but I would say the benefits far outweigh that initial, slightly unnerving ‘first day at a new school’ experience.

Sophie Moorcroft is an associate director at BGP