James Gray, Home Group
This week we are lucky enough to talk to James Gray, a Senior Development Manager at Home Group. Read on to find out about his journey from South Africa to the UK and why you shouldn't rush your career.
A brief look at James' journey from university in South Africa to the UK property market.
I completed my first property related degree in South Africa which was a BSc in Geomatics. The intention was to establish my own business with three University classmates. Post-graduation, I completed 1 year work experience as a surveyor with a view to be coming Chartered. However, I took the opportunity to return to the UK with the view to saving money for several years before returning to South Africa to complete my Chartership and to provide the funding to setup our business. Whilst in the UK, the financial and political position of South Africa deteriorated substantially which prompted me to remain in the UK; I had the luxury of being a citizen of both countries.
As my South African degree was not recognised by the RICS, I was advised that I needed to complete an accredited degree to become a member. Having just completed my first degree, I chose to work in the UK property market for a number of years before returning to the University of Reading to complete a master’s degree in Real Estate with a development focus. This degree allowed me to expand my career opportunities and after 10 years of mixed-use development, I have chosen to focus on residential development given the housing market has failed to meet demand for many years.
After such an interesting career path, what advice would you give to a young person starting their own career in the industry?
Don’t rush into a degree or career path until you have completed a decent amount of due diligence on your preferred / shortlisted options. A career is long, 50+ years, and taking one or two years upfront to choose correctly will pay dividends as opposed to trying to change tact later.
Also, speak to a range of people in different businesses models who are doing the career you desire. Enquire as to what they like and, more importantly, what they don’t; not all careers deliver what it says on the tin. Some can have substantial drawbacks and pitfalls that are not always evident when starting out. So plan ahead and think about a 10 year plan – 10 years in a career is normally a solid base so make it count.
Everyone needs some motivation from time to time, who is a person that inspires you and why?
Elon Musk. Perhaps cliché but this man is inspiring on so many fronts with his perseverance, can-do approach and passion being the stand out traits for me. Anyone that approaches life and work as he does will be very unfortunate not to succeed at some stage.
Thanks for taking time to speak with us James!