Bruton Knowles’ head of utilities and infrastructure, south, on how she got started in the property industry, her top book and album picks and her favourite destination.

Gillian Froud

Gillian Froud

How did you join the property industry?

I joined the industry by chance. I was in finance in a previous role and a director asked whether I would like to join their team, working on large-scale wind farm projects. This was around 12 years ago and my career has been spent in utilities and infrastructure ever since. I have loved working in the sector.

What does your job entail?

My role as head of utilities and infrastructure in the south for Bruton Knowles is to win business and manage projects, as well as to recruit and look after our people and clients. One of my key roles is to oversee huge, complex national projects with our clients, ensuring we remain on course to deliver on time.

My role is primarily people-based. I am a strong believer that if your staff are happy in their roles, retention will increase and you will create a vibrant, thriving culture within a business. This makes the tasks your team has to carry out easier not harder, and is key to creating a positive and supportive work environment, which will, in turn, lead to satisfied clients.

What do you like most about the property industry?

I enjoy working with a diverse team of people and clients, ensuring we provide an excellent service and building relationships. I love seeing my team happy and passionate about their job, and I want people to come to work full of energy and hunger for their role.

I realise it is not a favourite for many, but I also love carrying out tenders within my teams, meeting our prospective clients and winning new business.

Utilities and infrastructure is a diverse sector, and working with renewables companies gives us the opportunity to contribute to new clean energy projects, which will assist in improving energy efficiency.

And what do you dislike most about it?

There is nothing I dislike about the utilities and infrastructure sector. There is no challenge that does not have a solution.

What would you change about the property industry?

In the utilities and infrastructure sector, it is key that land teams are consulted at the outset of any project. This is primarily so their invaluable knowledge can be gathered and input into the wider project strategy, as timelines for land teams can get squeezed.

What barriers or challenges have you overcome?

I would say the only challenge I have had to overcome in my career is getting people to recognise my worth without having any qualifications. You can be anyone you want to be, but you have to put in the hard work to get people to see your potential and this comes from building up years of experience and knowledge in the industry.

What are you most proud of in your career?

I am most proud of the team I work with at Bruton Knowles. They are a great bunch of kind, knowledgeable and enthusiastic people. We recently had an internal conference in which our entire team of 80 came together and it was a room full of positive, buzzing individuals. I am of the mindset that I cannot do my role if I do not have the people to back me.

What do you value in people?

People skills are incredibly important. If you have good people skills and a willingness to learn, you can achieve anything. It is critical we have the right personalities within our teams.

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

I would say to have an open mind and an approach guided by solutions.

Top recommendations

Something to read:

The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment by Eckhart Tolle is a book that has always stuck in my head, because I focus on people and what makes them tick. The book is great. It is all about being fully present and seeing things from a different perspective, which is critical to my role.

Something to listen to:

The album Yourself or Someone Like You by Matchbox Twenty reminds me of an amazing time in my life travelling in America and the friends I made, many of whom I remain in touch with to this day.

The most ridiculous fact I know:

In 2001, there were more than 300 banana-related injuries in Britain. I think it speaks more to my sense of humour that I can remember this.

Top travel destination:

I spent six months in India, which is a beautiful country with such amazing, vibrant people and so much to see. If I could live anywhere in the world, it would be there, because of the people.