What's Your Career Background?
After completing a degree in quantity surveying, I spent four years with Faithful+Gould, before joining an interior fit-out contractor. An 18-month spell with a project management company came next, where I worked on large-scale private residential. I then spent 14 years with EC Harris/Arcadis, mostly specialising in commercial development. My roles included managing their Nottingham office and leading elements of the commercial sector from London. My job also took me to Abu Dhabi for five years, working on some of the world’s largest projects.
Outside of work Neil is the lead singer in Red Tape, a covers band playing gigs across the East Midlands.
What Attracted You to the Commercial Property Sector?
It's what I've always done! It's what my mentor did in my first job, so I followed and found I really liked it. I enjoy working with developers and influencing the appraisal process. The stimulation from large exciting projects such as the Scalpel in London’s City and the New York University in Abu Dhabi has been a massive draw.
Tell Us About Your Role at Faithful+Gould
I joined this year, enthused by the commercial development opportunities in the East Midlands and also the prospect of spending less time in London. I’ve hugely enjoyed working on some of the world’s highest-profile office towers, but capital cities are not the only opportunity. Increasingly, developers are looking at the more cost-effective regional potential. So my new role is leading Faithful+Gould’s Nottingham office, reconnecting with my local contacts and developing and diversifying our regional offering.
How do You View the Current East Midlands Commercial Property Market?
The East Midlands isn’t a huge market for commercial development right now – certainly it can’t compete with London or Manchester. But it’s right on the edge of new opportunities As the political landscape changes and Brexit is negotiated, I anticipate continued investment in the region’s commercial property sector.
The HS2 railway has the potential to help the East Midlands become a world-class commercial hub, rivalling the largest economic regions in the UK. There’s a shortage of Grade A office space and a strong need for private rental sector residential across the region, and the market will respond. At Faithful+Gould, we’re ready to play our part, and my conversations with developers and contractors suggest that they’re ready too.
What's Your Next Challenge?
I’ll be aligning our Nottingham office’s fantastic expertise with the great opportunities for commercial development in the East Midlands over the next five years. Our experience in the public sector is unrivalled and we will continue to lead in this area, but we also want to build on the office’s excellent reputation, extending our private sector reach and diversifying into a greater volume of commercial work. We’ve got a team of around 100, split between project management, quantity surveying and building surveying, giving us a very solid skillset. Harnessing that expertise and ensuring we use it on a varied workload is a priority for the office.
Would You Choose Commercial Property if You Were a New Entrant to the Industry Today?
Definitely. It’s an exciting sector, where you bring a project to life, often from the starting point of a piece of land and a couple of basic drawings. Commercial developers generally understand the value that we can bring to their projects and so the relationships are usually strong, and you can really influence the way they take their project to market. Showing them how they can improve the project, achieve efficiencies, get better space utilisation and better returns… it’s a very rewarding sector to work in.
What Inspires You Outside of Work?
I’m the lead singer in Red Tape, a covers band playing gigs across the East Midlands throughout the year. The band grew out of a charity event called the Nottingham Hot Property Show, where local property professionals come together to put on a show each year while raising money for charity. The other four Red Tape members are lawyers, and we have a lot of fun – a great antidote to the daily grind! I also enjoy playing football, cricket and generally keeping fit, and travelling with my family in our VW campers.