Alex Thorpe, senior development manager at developer CO—RE, on how she got started in property, her top book and song picks, the celebrity she’d most like to meet and her number-one travel destination.
How did you join the property industry?
I studied construction engineering management at Loughborough University and was a sponsored student with Skanska. I started working onsite, before moving to corporate procurement and then eventually development. It may not be the normal career ladder for a development manager, but it provided me with the opportunity to learn different and transferable skills. I also feel extremely comfortable on a construction site, which is handy.
What does your job entail?
As a senior development manager at CO—RE, I collaborate closely with our investor partners and project teams to oversee the entire lifecycle of major office developments in London, from inception to final delivery. Since the pandemic, office buildings need to work harder and deliver more for occupiers and surrounding communities.
What do you like most about the property industry?
What captivates me most about the industry is that while it may appear to be about the raw materials from an outsider’s perspective, once inside the industry you realise that it is all about people. The industry’s people shape its evolution and are the ones responsible for embracing change. The buildings that we develop are for people, and their occupiers and local communities must be at the forefront of design.
And what do you dislike most about it?
I am inspired by the knowledge and ideas within the industry that can help us all deliver on environmental, social and governance. However, one of the challenges I see is ensuring that the industry walks the walk. While significant strides have been made, I believe it is crucial for everyone to work together to make substantial change.
What would you change about the property industry?
I would love to see the industry embrace greater diversity in terms of its workforce. When young people join the industry, they bring with them such incredible enthusiasm and new ideas. We need to make sure we keep them in the industry and support them as they grow on their journey.
What barriers or challenges have you overcome?
A shortage of female role models in leadership positions can make it more challenging for women to navigate their careers effectively. I feel lucky to have found extremely inspiring women in the industry whom I can ask for guidance. I hope one day to offer such guidance to others.
What are you most proud of in your career?
What truly underlies every project-related accomplishment is the privilege of collaborating with exceptional individuals. I am extremely proud of the projects I have worked on, but even more so the relationships I have cultivated throughout my career.
What do you value in people?
Kindness and respect.
What advice would you give someone starting a career in the property industry?
Explore. The industry offers so many exciting roles that I had no idea existed when I started in the industry.
Something to read:
A Woman of No Importance: The Untold Story of Virginia Hall by Sonia Purnell is a compelling biography of the remarkable life of an American spy whose courage and determination played a pivotal role in securing victory during the Second World War. Her story is about breaking down barriers and unwavering belief. I highly recommend it.
Something to listen to:
I like the song Everybody Needs Somebody To Love by The Blues Brothers, because no matter who you are and what you do to live, thrive and survive, there are still some things that make us all the same – you, me, them, everybody, everybody!
If I could meet any celebrity:
If I had the opportunity, the celebrity I would most like to meet is Serena Williams. She is a true sports legend, whose determination and commitment to tennis, as well as fashion for everybody and social causes, are truly impressive. It would be great to learn more about how she has used her celebrity status to change perceptions, and I am sure I could learn a lot from meeting her.
Top travel destination:
My number-one travel destination is Japan. Having previously worked for a Japanese developer, my list of recommended places to visit in Japan has grown considerably. I hope to have the opportunity to visit soon.