Reflecting on our CREW UK Real Estate Conference:
Leadership of the Future

November 1, 2022
Written by: by CREW UK
CREW UK recently hosted our first flagship real estate leadership development event.  The event created learning, discussion and networking opportunities for 80+ attendees, speakers and moderators.  Leadership of the Future offered nine unique sessions exploring themes around inclusion, diversity and equity; global challenges; innovation and technological change; and the impact of our changing macroeconomic environment.

A special thank you to Cushman & Wakefield for underwriting this event, and CREW UK extends our appreciation to each of the speakers, moderators and panellists for kindly offering their time and candidly sharing their experiences, insights and expertise.
What did we learn?

Throughout the conference, we delved into a range of topics to support our members and guests with their leadership journey. It was acknowledged that established leaders understand those who influence them, and they listen carefully to the perspectives of others. As an aspiring leader, attendees recognised that it is essential to lead in your own sphere and take the opportunity to share our experiences.

“It is not enough to look for the next inspiring leader, you must become one yourself.”  Rebekah Tobias, Managing Director, Marcol and CREW UK Mentor and Committee Advisor
As the world is becoming ever more globalised, companies have access to an international pool of talent, making adaptable leadership approaches ever more important. Within a global context, it is essential to recognise cultural and regional differences. Understanding best practices from different jurisdictions and bringing together global ideas, is essential for progression and inclusion.

“As we re-adjust and redefine the new world of work, we will need to unlearn old habits and rituals established for an outdated office and create new ones fit for an age of digital disruption, design innovation and diverse workforces.”  Phillip Ross, Founder and CEO of UnGroup and Cordless Group
We explored asynchronous communication, which is a form of communication that happens 'out of sync' or in other words, not in real-time. Async communications has increasingly become a challenge within a global context of business growth and development, and talent working from different parts of the world.  With colleagues working across different geographies, we are not together via our locations and time zones. The discussion led to the potential use of data that can be harnessed to help drive both productivity and wellbeing when we are working together, from wherever we may be.   

“My secret sauce for successful multi-generational teams is cross-generational mentoring: empowering to share and receive tips and knowledge from their respective age groups.”  Blanka Thibaud, Real Estate Transactions Manager, Data Center Supply Solutions, Amazon Web Services
On the theme of working together effectively, we explored how we can harness the power of multi-generational teams. Indeed, within the workforce in the UK, we have representation from across five generations, and to an extent, these different generations have differing interactions with our build environment.  These perspectives influence the design, management and operations of our real estate. In guiding colleagues from different generations, we discussed the important of not ‘making a thing’ of this, and consciously recognising your potential bias and allowing individuals to draw upon their lived experiences.

"We cannot remove these biases completely, but once our biases have been recognised, we need to Stop, Reflect and Consider what we have learnt and what is needed to change. Recognising bias is about education and awareness"  Julian Hindmarsh, Partner, Head of Real Estate, Howard Kennedy LLP
Within our Recognising Bias session, speakers and attendees discussed the importance of understanding that we all have biases, and whilst we cannot remove these, to become better allies we must educate ourselves to recognise what they are and address the impact.  In conjunction, we explored how bringing a diversity of thought into a team can help us to address key topics changing and evolving our industry at this time including sustainability.

“It's obvious that the future of our planet is in our hands, people and property have a significant role to play in securing a sustainable output.  As custodians of the built environment, we must look for solutions, provide answers and be able to interpret how global and local events influence the decisions we must take.”  Andrew Phipps, Head of Business Development, EMEA & Global Futurist, Cushman & Wakefield
We hosted a discussing how ESG is becoming even more of a personal and company responsibility. Some of our discussions dived into circularity and how we can upcycle and recycle when refurbishing spaces. An interesting and poignant notion was around how the war in Ukraine has accelerated the transition to renewable energy as it has propounded countries to cut their dependence on non-renewable sources.

“Social value is a mark of what we lay down for future generations. Business has the scope to make change, but every individual must be committed to making a difference.”  Angela Russell, Senior Managing Director, Greystar
The theme of social value within real estate development was explored, which generated an important conversation about the industry today and in the future.  Important narratives about social value must be communicated in respect of our initiatives and project work.  Data points about what we are designing and building must be included as well, and we recognised the challenge in sometimes quantifying the data.  Interestingly, panellists and attendees agreed during the discussion that we each have an individual responsibility for driving social value, again reinforcing this concept that we can be leaders in our sphere. 

“Encouraging productive and meaningful discussions with underrepresented groups can help to drive the real estate diversity and inclusion agenda forward. In creating a conversation, we can break through barriers.”  Vanessa Hale, Head of Research and Insights at BNP Paribas Real Estate
The world is becoming ever more globalised, and this is allowing companies to access an international pool of talent, making adaptable leadership approaches ever more important. Within a global context, it is essential to recognise cultural and regional differences. Understanding best practices from different jurisdictions and bringing together global ideas, is essential for progression and inclusion.

In addition, we dived into cryptocurrency to learn about the applications of the technology, the tokenisation of real estate and how geographical differences are impacting the regulation and adoption of the platform. The challenges of working in a global context were discussed, and our SMEs took on us on an informative journey about the history and importance of diverse financial tools driving change and opportunity for real estate investors.

Lastly, an ‘in the moment of’ interview about the economic outlook with executives from Deloitte was hosted.  Our Deloitte SME provided tremendous insight into competing factors in the marketplace and what the indicators and data is telling us. Our speakers highlighted the wider issues companies and professionals are facing within the global dynamic, and spotlighted the need for leaders to step up in this time of uncertainty.

CREW Network’s recent research about COVID-19’s Impact on Women in Commercial Real Estate’ states that it is for companies to create and maintain inclusive, and high-trust cultures that support women.

This theme came through acutely throughout our sessions, highlighting the importance of having an inclusive culture that propounds employees to feel supported by their leaders.  One recommendation drawn out across our sessions to address these many challenges included the importance of mentorship. Many of our panellists cited the power of gaining formal and informal mentoring from people at different stages in their careers, within their sector, across our industry and outside of it, to gain the opportunity to understand a breadth of perspectives to guide their leadership style.

Bringing together this network of senior professionals from across the industry with aspiring, future leaders, we created an environment of shared knowledge and experiences.  Our goal for all attendees is to share their takeaways from the event with their networks, and inspire our industry to create meaningful change.