Dana · Career Insights

Development Manager

Dana  works with one of the world’s largest privately owned property businesses, who develop manage and invest in property in more than 60 cities worldwide. Here is an insight into her role as a development manager.

How did your journey to your career begin? 
I’ve always known that I wanted to go into property, my parents are both involved in property and construction, so I guess it almost runs in the family. Knowing what I wanted to do made everything easier, I was able to get work experience as early as secondary school as I already knew what I was interested in through my parents guidance which was great. After university, I started a two year graduate scheme as a surveyor within the strategic land and development management divisions.

What did you end up studying throughout college and university?
I studied French, Economics and Politics for my a-levels and went on to study Real Estate at the Royal Agricultural University.

Did you undertake any work or  internships throughout your education?
I was always informed of how important it was to get experience throughout university, so I did internships in all three years of my degree and also worked part time in my local estate agent as a sales negotiator on weekends, just to see the industry from a different angle. I’d say to anyone, get get as much experience in the industry you want to get into, especially if you’re studying something related – it helps you to apply what you’ve learnt in a practical way. There’s certain concepts I didn’t quite understand when I was studying until I had to do them at work.

Do you consider your industry or be diverse? Or is there room for improvement?
There is definitely room for improvement. Its a very ‘typical’ industry, white, male, middle-class, home counties, however, I feel like a lot of companies now have noticed this and are doing their part in their own way to improve it. There are a lot more women getting involved in the industry than when I first started which is great but I would love to see more racial diversity within the industry too. I believe that many industries appear ‘off limits’ at first or not much information about the range of jobs are being communicated to young people in certain communities who end up missing out or stay in ignorance, the industry needs to do a better job of attracting people from different classes and races too.

What do you feel are some common misconceptions about your industry?
People hear the word property and automatically think “estate agent”, its quite annoying actually! But I can’t blame people as its probably the most contact they’ll have with property in the first place – but estate agency is only a very tiny part of the property industry!

What would you do in your typical days work?
I get in the office around an hour early because I like to avoid the morning rush and I like to prioritise the work day over a bit of coffee and breakfast. I sort through my emails and have a look through my diary/calendar to see my client and work meetings for the day. For the last few months, I’ve been working on a hotel and prime residential scheme in London so most of my day would include working on getting planning consent for properties, keeping an eye on the project at hand including making sure milestones and deadlines are hit (lots of phone calls and emails), moving up and down doing site visits to make sure that the project team have certain documents and agreements and working together with other teams such as sales, marketing and leasing – its a very varied day at work, honestly no day is the same.

Are there any particular skills you think people should have to succeed in your profession?
I’d say the most important thing is being good at communicating in both a professional and casual capacity, in this role, you’re always on the move and you meet so many different people, so its important to have great communication skills and patience also. In property, you’re definitely going to deal with international clients at one point or another, while the language barrier may be frustrating it takes patience to maneuver. Lastly, I’d say good leadership qualities, you have to be okay with being in charge of others and you have to be okay to take blame should things go wrong!

What are the best and worst parts of your job?
The best part of my job is definitely travel I think, not in the sense that I can travel anywhere I want to work but the industry as a whole is quite flexible. I was able to do my secondment in Paris and Luxembourg whilst learning about the real estate market there. The worst part of my job, even though they make or break it are probably difficult clients – property is a huge asset and sometimes you do get clients who are disrespectful, completely ignore your advisory or refuse to understand where you’re coming from. You get this with almost all corporate client roles and it can be quite exhausting.

What is your favourite city and why?
I’d say Bridgetown, Barbados as its where I’m from! I’ve been going every year since I was around 12 years old, so its just a beautiful and fun place to be surrounded by great food, sun and family.

To find out more about Dana’s role, she is open to emails and connections:
dana.s.forde@gmail.com

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