Meet the Team: Mark Stevens

Danielle Wynn
Mark Stevens, Faithful+Gould's national head of commercial property sector in the UK and Europe, shares his experience within the sector.

Tell Us About Your Career Background

I’m a quantity surveyor. I studied Building Economics at London South Bank University, where I was sponsored by the Department of the Environment (DOE). I worked for the DOE until I became chartered, then joined the City of London Corporation’s capital team, part of the finance department at the Guildhall, managing their own developments. This was my first introduction to commercial property, although being the only QS surrounded by accountants eventually felt career-limiting. But it gave me good insight into the London market and two years later I went into private practice, joining AYH.

I eventually became a partner, basing my career almost entirely in the commercial office sector. I was one of the management buy-out team in 1999, before we sold AYH to Arcadis in 2005. In 2013 Faithful+Gould made me an exciting offer, which I couldn’t resist.

What’s Made You Stick With Commercial Property?

Initially I liked the contrast with the public sector. After my time in central and local government, the fast pace of commercial property was stimulating. Today I’m still motivated by the speed to build, the entrepreneurialism, the access to swift decision-makers on these projects… you have a such a key role in the project team when you manage the money. You have to be at the top of your game and I love that challenge. 

What Attracted You To Faithful+Gould?

I was given the opportunity to help grow and shape the commercial property offering, and it came at just the right time. Faithful+Gould had a good reputation but seemed to me rather modest about its commercial property capability. I felt I could build on that and make a difference. I was also pleased to be able to continue to work with my long-time colleague Matthew Goodwin.

Lone Ranger Or Team Player?

You have to be a team player in commercial property — the sector thrives on relationships and reputation — and I’m lucky to be heading up a great team. I’ve spearheaded a culture shift towards key account management in the commercial property sector and it’s working well. We’re a regionally-based business and we have a sector champion in each region. Our project resourcing is based on satisfying client needs by deploying the best person for the job, not on who wins the work and that requires collaboration across the business.

What Do You See As The Current Market Drivers?

Residential is the main driver right now. There’s huge interest in build to rent and the PRS model, backed by institutional investment. Warehousing and distribution is also looking strong.

And The Challenges?

The uncertain economy is the biggest challenge. It’s become difficult to predict the volume of projects likely to come to market. In London there’s obviously Brexit-related nervousness in the office market — the banks and other financial institutions don’t yet know if they’re staying here. We’re also potentially looking at over-supply. Indicators of building cost inflation are very mixed. At Faithful+Gould, we’re positioning ourselves as close as possible to sources of market intelligence to give our clients more evidence-based advice.

How Are You Feeling About MIPIM?

Positive. We’ve got some excellent meetings set up and I always look forward to the opportunity of seeing so many people in one week and the new ideas that come from the projects and initiatives showcased there.

How Meaningful Is MIPIM In This Digital Age?

It’s as relevant as ever. You can’t replace that personal contact. Not in commercial property — it’s the relationship factor again. It’s like transporting the West End and the UK’s regional centres to Cannes for the week. There’s nothing like it for networking.

What Excites You At Work?

Every day is different and I thrive on that. There’s the external stimulation of winning work and the demands of project delivery. And, at the same time, the internal challenge of unifying our commercial offering and furthering best practice. I find all those things exciting.

How Do You Unwind?

By being active! As well as a busy social life with friends, I have a large family — four grown-up children, a grandchild with two more on the way, and two large dogs — all of which take up a lot of my time. I also like to keep fit. I’m a keen gardener and I try to fit in a long bike ride every weekend.

You Sound Ideal For The Faithful+Gould 70 4 70 Anniversary Cycling Challenge!

Absolutely! 70 4 70 will be a fantastic 70-day 7,000-mile tour of Faithful+Gould’s UK & Europe footprint, reflecting the journey we have been on over the past 70 years. We’ll be collaborating with clients, colleagues and friends, to celebrate, have fun and raise £70,000 for the Alzheimer’s Society. I’ll be cycling the London to Epsom to Tunbridge Wells leg of the route in May, and I’d encourage you all to get involved.

Written by