The managing director of Impact Hub London on how she got started in the property industry, her favourite historical figure, her top TV and radio recommendations and the superpower she wishes she had.

Devi Clark

Devi Clark, Impact Hub London

How did you join the property industry?

For me, property is a way to create social good. I started as a graduate trainee in the rail industry, including a stint as duty station manager at London Euston railway station, which gave me an insight into the operations of a busy environment with thousands of customers, dozens of staff and a need to stay on top of health and safety.

Then, I had a huge career change and trained in coaching and careers guidance, ending up as a business adviser for social enterprises and charities.

Impact Hub combines the two: flexible and collaborative workspaces for social entrepreneurs to come together and work for a better world.

What does your job entail?

I manage a growing team of community builders and business advisers, providing workspace and business support to social entrepreneurs. I spend my time on strategy, team development and finance, including a lot of fundraising so we can deliver support for under-represented founders.

What do you like most about the property industry?

I like the diversity of the people who work here.

And what do you dislike most about it?

There is still more work to be done to make women feel welcome.

What would you change about the property industry?

Property developers are often expected to deliver Section 106 requirements in local communities. Some do it really well, but I would love even more connections to be built between developers, local communities and small and medium-sized enterprises, along with embedding charities and social enterprises into supply chains.

Our partnership with British Land at Regent’s Place in central London, which provides a genuinely environmentally and socially focused workspace, and our partnership with Wates through the Assisting Social Enterprises to Succeed programme, which helps social enterprises scale in supply chains in the built environment sector, are just two ways that we have demonstrated this.

These collaborations create real systemic change that goes beyond the obvious, building a more inclusive society and economy.

What barriers or challenges have you overcome?

There are many. At Euston, I was the only woman in the team and had to insist on not being treated as delicate. I led Impact Hub London through Covid lockdowns and the resulting loss of income, having to rebuild our membership afterwards. I have also grappled with the modern challenges of balancing parenting and working full time.

But actually, I think I have been lucky.

How much harder it would have been if I had come from a family who were struggling to heat their home, who went into debt when they had to buy new school shoes or who did not have the connections that opened doors for me. Those are the people I want us to help.

What are you most proud of in your career?

When a very successful social entrepreneur whom I really admired told me that all the connections that had helped him in the past five years had originated with me.

What do you value in people?

Honesty, creativity, collaboration, empathy and the ability to get things done.

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

Keep your promises. Find people you trust to mentor you. Stay open to learning, however much experience you have.

Top recommendations

Favourite TV show:

I love clever twisty TV dramas, especially those that combine darkness and humour. A fine example I have just been watching is The Tourist. There’s mystery in the main character who has lost his memory and doesn’t know why people are trying to kill him. There’s humour in the fiancé of the probationary constable who mansplains what mansplaining is. And there are twists and turns galore. 

Favourite radio show:

I absolutely love Add to Playlist on BBC Radio 4. The presenters Cerys Matthews and Jeffrey Boakye start with one piece of music and then they and their guests find connections with a huge range of other pieces of music from every genre you can think of – classical, pop, Mexican folk, Bollywood etc. It opens my eyes to new sounds and deepens my insights into how music works. Plus, the presenters are lively and appreciative.

Favourite historical figure:

I love Mary-Ann Evans, better known as George Eliot. She wrote some of the most amazing books with complex characters, who understood life’s complexities and constraints, all evoked with such sympathy. 

If I could have any superpower:

Teleporting. I love to travel, and what a joy it would be not to have to spend hours on planes to go anywhere in the world – not to mention the carbon footprint savings. I would just need to make sure that I don’t teleport on top of something dangerous.