Warwick Smither, development director at regeneration specialist Genr8 Developments, on how he got started in property, his top film and music picks and the historical figure he would most like to have met.
How did you join the property industry?
I have always had an interest in property. I never really wanted to be an accountant or a lawyer, so education-wise, I started out by studying architecture before making a switch to surveying at college.
What does your job entail?
To put it simply: relationships. Winning business and the hearts and minds of people are what my role is all about, particularly in the first instance establishing those contacts and then making them flourish and prevail over long periods. As we all know, regeneration takes a long time and business relationships can fatigue, so I try my best to ensure that does not happen.
What do you like most about the property industry?
It has got to be the people. While it might seem strange, property is not just about buildings; it is also the people who both deliver and use them, and that is what makes me tick. I love working and connecting with different personalities, so it is about a lot more than just bricks and mortar.
And what do you dislike most about it?
Ultimately, delivering change cannot happen overnight and it is exactly that which can be frustrating. Property development, particularly regeneration schemes, can be very time-consuming, especially when delivered correctly. Navigating a wide range of hold-ups is not for the faint-hearted.
What would you change about the property industry?
I would reduce the amount of red tape so that project delivery is less time-consuming from start to finish.
What barriers or challenges have you overcome?
Making the shift from principal at a niche retail consultancy to director at a major regeneration specialist has not been without its challenges. It was quite a dramatic change and, even at this point in my career, every day is a school day and I am still learning. It seems you can teach an old dog new tricks.
What are you most proud of in your career?
At the risk of blowing my own trumpet (a bit like that joke: ‘Sorry, I never apologise for being British!’) I am proud of the role I have played in helping other people’s careers develop over time. I like to view my colleagues as working with me rather than for me, and it has been particularly fulfilling to see them go on to do brilliant things and establish themselves in the industry.
What do you value in people?
First and foremost, honesty and integrity, and humour is right up there. I am a big believer that none of us should take ourselves too seriously.
What advice would you give someone starting a career in the property industry?
Have you thought about law? Seriously, though, you have to be prepared to be flexible and explore the industry. It has enormous scope, so it is easy to get pigeonholed – don’t limit yourself too soon.
Something to watch:
It is tough to pick a favourite film, but I would have to say The Blues Brothers. It is very funny and I also like the important underlying message about giving back.
Something to listen to:
My music taste is extremely diverse, including anything from Adele through to Arctic Monkeys. I am a fan of (post-Wham) George Michael and, thanks to my children’s influence, I am partial to Olivia Rodrigo and Taylor Swift.
If I could meet one historical figure:
While this could be deemed a controversial answer, I’d have to say the historical figure I would’ve most liked to spend an hour with was Winston Churchill. Given his complex life and experiences, I imagine he would have been an interesting person to chat to. He knew how to galvanise the nation and get everyone to pull together. I think he’d be fascinating.
The most ridiculous fact I know:
One of the most ridiculous facts I know is that octopuses have three hearts. A more obscure fact I know, which may sound like a joke, is that the most popular toilet paper colour in France is… pink!