Joanne Cuckson, Summit Search & Selection
Hi Joanne, it's great to hear from you. Could you start by briefly describing how you entered the property industry
I moved down to London from ‘The North’ in 1999, just 3 days after graduating with an upper second degree in Journalism. Having secured a temporary job as a ‘booker’ with a model and promotions agency, my aim was to move into magazine journalism or public relations. However, my career took a turn in an unexpected direction.
While considering my options, I came across an interesting job with an international executive search company. I had no idea what 'head-hunting' entailed, however, I was attracted to the intellectual rigour of the executive search process and the fact that it was varied and people-focused, requiring a well-rounded skill set.
Having trained as a researcher and consultant, I specialised as a commercial property head-hunter in 2002 and have been in this field ever since. I'm now a Director of a Real Estate Executive Search business, with CIPD qualifications in Recruitment and Career Coaching.
My job involves working on a retained basis with global fund management companies, investment banks, private equity firms, corporate occupiers, retailers and property companies to ‘head-hunt’ real estate professionals (across various disciplines).
Even though property is centred around land ownership and physical structures, it’s the most people-orientated business I know. I feel fortunate to be part of such an interesting and evolutionary industry, which is also fun to work in!
In your opinion, what is an important development or theme that will shape the future of the property industry?
Flexible working and well-being. As a society we are rapidly changing how we live, work, shop etc. and the property industry is already adapting to the needs of the next generation via ‘build to rent’ initiatives, flexible offices and leisure destinations.
What advice would you give to a young person starting their career in the industry?
Having conducted my fair share of interviews over the past 16 years, the one thing that makes someone stand out is their level of emotional intelligence. In most cases, there are any number of candidates who match the technical job specification, but clients are drawn to those people who can work well in a team and help to create an extra spark of enthusiasm, inspiration and innovation. In my view, this can’t be faked; it resonates from people who are positive, self-motivated and willing to show initiative.
I’d therefore advise trying out different things at the start of your career, to work out where your passion, drive and interests lie; it’s easier to progress quickly in this industry if you identify your strengths and set yourself on the right career path early on. However, if this doesn’t happen straight away, don’t panic! Life doesn’t always work out as planned so try to be flexible and open to new opportunities; things have an uncanny way of working out for the best.
Finally, my advice would be to approach your career (and life in general) with courage, compassion and conviction. People who have achieved the most success in this industry have learned to be good listeners whilst also being empathetic. Property is going through a transitional period and every graduate/newly qualified surveyor is at the forefront of this digital age; your team will want to hear your views and the company will benefit greatly from your perspective, so don’t be afraid to share your ideas. You are, after all, the industry’s future!
Thanks for taking the time to speak to us today Joanne!