Jon Stott, group managing director at Ardent, on how he got started in the property industry, his top book and album recommendations, his best and worst purchases and his number-one travel destination.
How did you join the property industry?
I fell into it through securing a job as a land referencer on a proposed tram project in Liverpool, and from there I was supported to do the Assessment of Professional Competence and specialised in compulsory purchase.
What does your job entail?
We provide land assembly and consent management services to promoters of major regeneration and infrastructure projects, from conception to delivery. Our particular focus is on transport, renewables, utilities and regeneration. My role involves leading a number of teams – with locations across the UK and Ireland – to maximise the quality of services we provide to clients; and expanding the range and geographic reach of the services we provide to support major projects.
What do you like most about the property industry?
I love working on projects that will deliver life-improving changes for people. Everything we do is about improving places, increasing accessibility and making a difference to the environment. It’s hugely rewarding to see projects come to fruition.
And what do you dislike most about it?
We are not moving quickly enough on equality and diversity. I feel we could all do much more to make the sector more accessible to a broader number of people. Change is happening, but not at the pace it could be.
What would you change about the property industry?
RICS needs to have a laser focus on improving standards and making the property sector more accessible. As just one example, the results of RICS’ ‘Women in surveying: insight report’ from earlier this year were pretty damning, with women accounting for only 18% of all chartered surveyors.
What barriers or challenges have you overcome?
I have been lucky in my career to be presented with a lot of great opportunities. There is some truth in the saying that you make your own luck, but there are plenty of people out there who have overcome greater challenges than me. It is down to leaders to remove as many barriers as possible.
What are you most proud of in your career?
I am always proud of leading teams and businesses to achieve ambitious growth objectives, but I take most pride in encouraging people to step outside their comfort zone and seeing them accelerate their growth.
What do you value in people?
Ambition, positivity and willingness to learn and step out of their comfort zone. If you have those attributes you will go far, and you can learn the technical skills along the way.
What advice would you give someone starting a career in the property industry?
Take every opportunity presented to you. Don’t take the easy options and be sure to develop your network as soon as you start your career.
Something to read:
I am a big Spurs fan and am currently reading a book that their manager Ange Postecoglou wrote about football in his native Australia. He is a breath of fresh air in the Premier League and the book, which he wrote back in 2016, has great insights about his philosophy and leadership style. I think a lot of business leaders can learn from his approach and there are many more examples of this in sport.
Something to listen to:
It is a bit left-field, but I reckon the album I have listened to the most is The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. I have a fairly eclectic taste in music, although my music knowledge stalled after the end of the 1990s.
My worst purchase:
My worst purchase was buying an apartment in Bulgaria off-plan soon after I graduated. I believed it would increase in value, as Bulgaria was rumoured to be joining the EU back then. My intention was to flip it to pay off my student debts, but instead I ended up taking two unsecured loans of £25,000 while living in London on a graduate’s salary. It is as cheesy as you like, but my best purchase was definitely my wife’s engagement ring. We have been together 20 years and had our 10-year wedding anniversary in August.
Top travel destination:
My number-one travel destination is Barbados. My wife and I honeymooned there and we both fell in love with the island, the way of life and the people. In the UK, one of my favourite spots is Spurn Point in East Yorkshire – a place I love to go any time of year to blow away the cobwebs.