Nikki Davies, managing director of built environment consultancy MPC, on how she got started in property and her cultural recommendations.
How did you join the property industry?
I did not set out to. I graduated from university with a degree in politics at the height of the last recession, so the job market was bleak. I was applying for everything I could. MPC was advertising a six-week contract for an account executive. Without knowing a thing about property, I applied and accepted the offer – not for a second thinking I had found an incredibly rewarding career in the most fascinating industry.
What does your job entail?
Facilitating my team to deliver innovative and inclusive planning communications and engagement programmes. My days are completely varied and can include anything from project team calls with clients and meetings with stakeholder groups, to brainstorming sessions with colleagues on strategy for a bid response.
As managing director, I balance the day job with all the tasks required to run a small business – HR, finance, marketing etc. Thankfully, I have a brilliant team to support me with this.
What do you like most about the property industry?
The variety. Every scheme differs in size, location, community. Each has a unique set of challenges that we support our clients in overcoming through our communications strategy.
And what do you dislike most about the industry?
The public perception.
It is often seen as full of people driven only by lining their pockets. That is not at all my experience. I know that the work we do creates positive change, but we all need to work hard to change the narrative.
What would you change about the property industry?
The level of diversity in gender, race, sexual orientation, ability – you name it. Creating places that reflect local needs and get public buy-in would be easier if the team designing and promoting them was more reflective of society.
What barriers or challenges have you overcome?
Being a young woman in an industry full of men has been incredibly challenging at times but, thankfully, I have never been afraid to challenge assumptions. However, I have seen the industry changing in recent years and long may that continue.
What are you most proud of in your career?
Starting at the very bottom and working my way to the top. MPC gave me every opportunity to thrive and I am so proud to now be in a position to give that same opportunity to my team.
What do you value in people?
What advice would you give someone starting a career in the property industry?
Go to a planning committee. Try to understand what makes local politicians tick, because without a vote of support from that committee the property industry cannot deliver the fantastic work we set out to do.