Jane Sartin, executive director of the Flexible Space Association, on how she got started in property, her top TV and podcast picks, her number-one travel destination and the most ridiculous fact she knows.
How did you join the property industry?
I have been lucky enough to have had a diverse career in the public, private and charity sectors. The skills and experience I gained combined well for my move to the Flexible Space Association, the membership trade body representing, supporting and informing the flexible workspace industry, at the end of 2018. The UK-wide reach of the organisation interested me, along with the sector being the backbone to huge numbers of small and medium-sized enterprises.
What does your job entail?
My role at the Flexible Space Association encompasses the day-to-day running of the organisation, speaking and writing about the industry and bringing together people working within it. It is a job with a lot of variety – I can be discussing details of business rates policy in the morning and touring workspaces in the afternoon.
What do you like most about the property industry?
I am often struck by how proud of and passionate people are about the workspaces they run. Managers are always happy to show visitors around and talk about the services they offer, because they are enthusiastic about what they do and the space they are responsible for.
And what do you dislike most about it?
The negative portrayal of the property industry can sometimes be frustrating. Although this is often due to a lack of knowledge, it can be damaging.
What would you change about the property industry?
While it is unfortunately outside the control of the industry itself, the planning process is frustrating in holding back investment and the ability to respond to opportunities. Local scrutiny of new developments is important, but decisions need to be taken much more quickly.
What barriers or challenges have you overcome?
I have been pretty fortunate in being able to pursue what I have wanted to. The variety of my career has meant every new role has brought with it the challenge of learning about a different sector, but I have found that most skills are transferable.
What are you most proud of in your career?
When I took on my current role, I moved from a series of jobs that were behind the scenes supporting others, to one that meant I was very much front and centre. I drew on my experience outside work to successfully transition into this.
What do you value in people?
A willingness to go beyond the strict boundaries of your role or organisation to help others. In the long term, that attitude will be positively repaid in spades, and you’ll learn more.
What advice would you give someone starting a career in the property industry?
It is an industry with a wide range of opportunities, so take the time to work out what the best fit is. Early in my career, I benefited from the chance encounters with senior people that come from being in the office, so I’d advise making the effort to do the commute.
Something to watch:
Over the past few months, I have been rewatching the TV series The West Wing. I watched it when it was first broadcast two decades ago and it stands the test of time as a quality drama series, focusing on the lives of people hugely committed to the work they are doing.
Something to listen to:
I am a news addict, and my day often ends with listening to the BBC Newscast podcast. It is a good way to get an overview of the day’s big stories, and a behind-the-scenes look at how they have been covered.
Top travel destination:
My number-one travel destination is Scotland. I had annual holidays there as a child and it is still somewhere I love to visit. While there is a whole world out there to explore, it can be easy to forget that there is breathtaking scenery on our doorstep – and Scotland certainly provides that.
A ridiculous fact:
The most ridiculous fact I know is that outside Wales, the largest population of Welsh speakers is in Argentina.