Craig Wilson, director of real estate debt advisory at BDO, on how he got started in property, his top film and album recommendations, the superpower he wishes he had and his number-one travel destination.
How did you join the property industry?
I joined the industry in late 2003. I had completed the Barclays graduate programme and begun a role as a credit analyst, focusing on lending into the social housing and student accommodation sectors. It is fair to say that I was thrown in at the deep end early in my career, working on some high-profile transactions. Despite the steep learning curve, I was fortunate to be surrounded by a supportive team who epitomised the mantra ‘work hard, play hard’.
What does your job entail?
As a real estate debt adviser, I provide strategic advice and in-depth analysis to deliver the best funding solutions. Drawing on established relationships with active lenders across the capital stack, I arrange the optimum debt terms for investment and development transactions across all property classes.
What do you like most about the property industry?
The people – there are so many larger-than-life characters. We are generally not a shy bunch.
And what do you dislike most about it?
The UK planning system needs a major overhaul. I have been involved in numerous transactions where unnecessary planning delays have jeopardised the project, often at significant cost to the developer.
What would you change about the property industry?
While the property sector has many great attributes, diversity is unfortunately not one of them. If you attend any of the key property conferences, it quickly becomes apparent that there is much work to do in this area, and we all need to work collectively to support this.
What barriers or challenges have you overcome?
I have been in a privileged position for most of my career, so the main challenge I have had to overcome is in my own head, with imposter syndrome causing me issues in the past.
What are you most proud of in your career?
My resilience when the going gets tough. The real estate market will always have peaks and troughs and you need to reposition yourself accordingly to get the best out of the situation. There is great value in experiencing a tough market. It is important to learn from those experiences and use them to guide decision-making in the good times.
What do you value in people?
I am sure it has been said many times before, but honesty and integrity are the things I value most in people. Both are necessary to work effectively as a team to deliver the best results.
What advice would you give someone starting a career in the property industry?
Make every effort to keep up to date with the main news stories and key themes across the industry. The more knowledgeable you are, the more credible you will be. Sound industry knowledge will also give you confidence when speaking with peers at networking events, which are so crucial at the beginning of your career.
Something to watch:
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom is a non-stop, action-packed rollercoaster of a film in which Indy has to overcome every conceivable obstacle – which has many parallels with the property industry over the past three to four years.
Something to listen to:
When I was a teenager growing up on the outskirts of Manchester in the mid-1990s, Definitely Maybe by Oasis was a defining album that was played on repeat on my CD player.
If I could have any superpower:
If I could have one superpower, it would be to pause time. There is so much amazing stuff to do and experience in life with friends and family, but so little time to enjoy it.
Top travel destination:
My number-one travel destination is Gili Trawangan, a small Indonesian island famous for diving and snorkelling. It has sandy beaches, sea turtles and no motorised vehicles are allowed on the island – bliss!