James Child, associate director in CBRE’s UK development advisory team in Leeds, on his favourite TV and podcast picks, his number-one travel destination and what he would do with a million pounds.



How did you join the property industry?

I fell into the property industry through a family friend who knew I had always had an interest in property and who worked for an independent firm of surveyors in my hometown of Dewsbury. Once I joined the company, they offered me the opportunity to study remotely for an estate management degree through the University College of Estate Management – and the rest, as they say, is history.

What does your job entail?

I am presently part of the UK development advisory team at CBRE based in the Leeds office, covering the whole of the north but with a focus on Yorkshire and the North East. My current role is quite wide-ranging, but it is largely about advising on and helping to facilitate development at the very earliest stage.

What do you like most about the property industry?

The best thing about working in the property industry is being part of a process that brings about physical development or regeneration.

And what do you dislike most about it?

One of the frustrating aspects of working in property can be the timescales. Projects can often run for many years, so it is often a test of patience to see the result of a project.

What would you change about the property industry?

It is often considered necessary to be part of an old boys’ network to be successful in the industry. While this is not true, the more this is challenged with demonstrable examples of diversity in the industry, the better.

What barriers or challenges have you overcome?

As an openly gay man in an industry that has traditionally lacked diversity, I am always keen to share my experiences with others and often take public speaking opportunities.

Before joining CBRE, I worked at Leeds City Council, where I combined surveying with being a professional Rugby League referee. As a referee, I learned to develop a thick skin, and it also taught me that being open and my true self brought the best out in me.

What are you most proud of in your career?

I am most proud of some of the many projects I was involved with during my 17 years at Leeds City Council.

I particularly enjoyed getting involved in heritage buildings and seeing them brought back into modern-day use.

What do you value in people?

I value people who are straight-talking, empathetic and good listeners.

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

My advice to anyone starting a career in the property industry is to try to gain a rounded experience across a variety of sectors. There are so many interesting and distinct parts of the property industry and the more first-hand experience you have of working in them, the better you will become.

Top recommendations

Something to watch:

A recent TV series I have enjoyed is Race Across the World. It is fascinating seeing some of the places they travel through and I enjoy the competitive element, but the best part is some of the people they meet along the way and the friendships they form – it restores faith in humanity.

Something to listen to:

I do love podcasts, so much so that I co-present a weekly Rugby League podcast – Forty20 – and have been interviewed on quite a number. So, to choose just one is like trying to choose a favourite child. My favourite format is a long-form interview that gets under the skin of a person, and Desert Island Discs is the godfather of all such podcasts.

If I won a million pounds:

If I won a million pounds, I would love to travel. I would start off with a luxury round-the-world cruise to get a flavour of where to go back and explore in more detail. If only I played the lottery!

Top travel destination:

My most recent holiday was my honeymoon to South Africa, which included a safari near the Kruger National Park. It was the most incredible experience, and I will never forget a herd of elephants chasing our jeep. Luckily, my husband and I survived to tell the tale and visit Cape Town, which is stunning.