Meet EG’s Rising Stars 2016

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Embrace failure, work harder and don’t be an arse. If there is one thing the 15 people profiled here have in common, it is not shying away from a brutally honest – and first-hand – evaluation of what it takes to make it in the property industry.

We have spent the past six months searching for the 15 most exciting under-35-year-olds in the industry.

Straight talking, to the point and ruthlessly ambitious, they are the perfect clutch of bright young things to pay tribute to the legendary Iraqi architect Dame Zaha Hadid, who died suddenly in March this year at the age of 65.

From tech entrepreneurs to surveyors and from developers to maths geniuses, these are the fresh faces you need to have on your radar. Portraits by Jon Enoch.

The step-changer

Laurence Kemball Cook

Laurence Kemball-Cook, 30, founder and chief executive, Pavegen

EG asked Kemball-Cook earlier this year whether his energy-storing, data-sharing tiles can transform the built environment. Click here to read more.

What do you wish you had known when you were starting out? I really should have been aware of the importance of failure on the journey to success. All the obstacles I have encountered on my journey have been vital to the success of my company and, without these hiccups, Pavegen wouldn’t be in the competitive position it is in today.

What has been the most important decision of your career so far? At the start of Pavegen, I encountered many situations that nearly led me to end the business. The funding to kick-start the company’s growth was proving to be extremely difficult and there were many times that I nearly gave up. The biggest decision I made was to continue fighting for my business, rather than take the easy option and quit.

What should the property industry expect to see from you next?

We have just launched a collaboration with a company called Tribal Planet, which will allow us to incorporate data into our energy-generating tiles that can be accessed by the public through an app.

We are also hoping to release a very exciting new “redeem and donate” feature that will enable people who walk on Pavegen tiles to build up their digital currency and then either redeem it in areas such as shopping centres, or donate it to charitable causes.



The star surveyor

Olga Turner

Olga Turner, 26, senior surveyor, CBRE

Being young and successful happens when… you have a willingness to learn, an open mind, and a positive, enthusiastic attitude; when you are learning from your mentors, questioning and challenging convention, and making yourself as useful as you can.

What do you wish you had known when you were starting out? I wish I had had an appreciation of quite how many roles there are in the property industry and how many ways there are to shape the built environment.

Advice for property graduates: Get to know as much as you can about the industries and career paths you’re interested in before you commit to a full-time job. Do work experience in different sectors and different roles within that sector, through internships and by talking to people in those roles. And don’t be afraid to change roles if you feel it isn’t taking you where you want to be.



The rating guru

Josh Myerson

Josh Myerson, 31, partner, Montagu Evans

Being young and successful happens when… you seize every opportunity presented to you and just get involved. Never say you’re too busy and stick your head above the parapet every once in a while.

Advice for property graduates: Rating isn’t as dry as people say it is. It can be very exciting. I get to deal with a wide variety of properties and I feel at times that I can make a genuine difference to a business. No two days are the same and I get to travel around the country a fair amount, so it’s far from a desk job. And it’s very sociable!

What do you wish you had known when you were starting out? That it’s the start of a long journey and there is lots to learn along the way. In fact we never stop learning.


The advisory ace

Simon Burnett

Simon Burnett, 33, director – development, Deloitte Real Estate

What was the driving force behind your success? Ambition. I sort of fell into property, having started in construction. Making a big difference to the industry is probably my biggest drive.

What do you wish you had known when you were starting out? When you start in the corporate world, it’s very easy to look at those around you and think “I’ve got to adapt my personality and be like them”. After being in the industry for a while, you work out it’s better to relax and be yourself.

Who is your role model? Tim Henman, the unsung hero of British tennis. He was the first British player we had for years that people really got behind. He showed great resilience: he wasn’t actually that good, but when it really mattered at Wimbledon, he played really well.


The university challenger

Charlie Vaughan Lee

Charlie Vaughan-Lee, 34, chief executive, Student Cribs

EG profiled Vaughan-Lee back in 2014 and asked him about his plans for taking student housing upmarket. Since then he has been named best leader at the British Property Federation’s Tomorrow’s Leaders Awards.

What has been the most important decision of your career so far? When we moved on from buying student houses for individuals to set up our first investment fund. We had to decide whether to keep going with smaller investors and keep more equity in the business or sell part of the business to new investors and get our first fund off the ground.

We did the latter and haven’t looked back since. The investment enabled us to scale much more quickly but the best bit was securing our chairman, Brian Linden, who has become a great mentor and friend.

What do you wish you had known when you were starting out? Things aren’t always as complicated as you think they are going to be and it’s worth just giving something a go.

Who is your role model? I have a few. Richard Branson and Charles Dunstone are pretty incredible entrepreneurs.



The PRS pioneer

Khush Rajgor

Khushalee Rajgor, 29, customer relationship manager, Grainger

Rajgor works for Grainger, a company with women in its three top roles. Click here to read more about the firm’s new direction

Advice for property graduates: Never be afraid to try new things.

What has been the most important decision of your career so far? Deciding to move around the industry in order to gain experience in commercial, freehold and leasehold properties. Each sector comes with its own challenges and opportunities, so exposure to all of them early on has allowed me to develop a strong foundation for growing my career in the future.

What’s on the horizon for you? I am focused on growing my career and translating my experience to Grainger’s growing PRS business. I believe, when done properly, renting is a great lifestyle option, and we have a real opportunity to improve the overall sector.

Who is your role model? Someone very controversial: Margaret Thatcher. She was a woman in power who could simply get things done. And just like her, “this woman is not for turning”.



The fresh developer

Jacob Loftus

Jacob Loftus 29, chief executive and founder, General Projects

Click here to read about Loftus’s dedication to building for the next generation.

Advice for property graduates: Work hard – and then, whatever you thought hard work was, work harder.

What should the property industry expect to see from you next? We have just signed our first big project – an 80,000 sq ft development in Clerkenwell, EC1 – which will, we hope, establish a new benchmark for the way companies occupy office space. We’ve got some very forward-thinking and different plans for that building.

What has been the most important decision of your career so far? Probably turning up at Resolution’s offices, aged 21, after my two-week internship was officially over. I wasn’t supposed to be coming in but turned up and no one seemed to mind. Six weeks later, they gave me a job and my career began.

Who is your role model? Unquestionably, Elon Musk – the ultimate disruptor.



The map masters

Nakhil Vadgama Chlump Chatkupt

Nikhil Vadgama (l), 32, and Chlump Chatkupt (r), 33, co-founders, PlaceMake

Vadgama and Chatkupt were featured on this year’s EG Collaborators list. Click here to find out why

What was the driving force behind your success?

Chatkupt: While I appreciate the description, I am simply trying my best to make sense of the world. Have an openness to the world and a will to explore. Cultivate surprise and create serendipity. My maxim is: exclude nothing. But it is just as important to serve others. That is the only way to make a difference.

What do you wish you had known when you were starting out?

Chatkupt: It is easy to get caught up in whatever one is doing. But it is important to enjoy the experience.

Vadgama: Be patient. Things take time. People overestimate what they can do in a short period, but underestimate what can be done over a long period.

Advice for graduates:

Chatkupt: It is hard to overstate the importance of having a supportive and generous mentor. Find that person, learn from that person, serve that person, and express your gratitude. And then become a mentor in turn. I welcome anyone inclined to approach me and would be happy to help in any way that I can. You can look me up on LinkedIn.

Who is your role model?

Vadgama: Richard Feynman, the Nobel Prize-winning theoretical physicist who was also known for popularising science.


The collaborator

Savannah de Savary

Savannah de Savary, 25, founder and chief executive, IndustryHub

Savannah shares her experiences as the leader of a start-up company with EG, and was featured on EG’s 2016 Collaborators list. Click here to find out more.

What do you wish you had known when you were starting out? That it’s OK not to have your whole career mapped out. As long as you are around inspiring people, you will be learning every day.

What has been the most important decision of your career so far? Taking the leap to leave my job in property development to found IndustryHub. Terrifying at the time but I have never looked back. I’m now lucky enough to spend every day working on a project that can change the industry for the better.

Who is your role model? Sheryl Sandberg and Martha Lane Fox – both women who have really pioneered being leaders in the tech sphere.

What’s on the horizon for you?  Bringing more innovators into the IndustryHub fold. Our member-base is growing faster than we ever imagined – so to keep up with it, I’m expanding our business development team.



The space invaders

Luke Appleby James Townsend

Luke Appleby (l), 31, and James Townsend (r), 30, co-founders, Kontor

EG first profiled Kontor in March 2016. Click here to read the feature.

What do you wish you had known when you were starting out?

Townsend: The more you share, the more comes back to you – whether that’s getting out there and meeting people or putting your ideas forward. They’re just that if you don’t share or action them.

Appleby: It’s not as scary or as hard to set up a company as you think. Yes, there is some admin, but with the right advisers and good systems and processes in place, life is actually pretty simple.

What has been the most important decision in your career so far?
Townsend: To leave the confines and safety of a big firm and join forces – approaching challenges with two brains and different perspectives leads to a much more balanced outlook, which better serves our clients, and means we have someone to share the highs and lows with.

Advice for property graduates:

Appleby: I always go by the logic; don’t be an arse.



The real deal

Andy Miles

Andrew Miles, 34, co-founder and director, Realla

Being young and successful happens when… hard work, talent, luck and timing intersect. I don’t regard myself as successful, but hope our business is moving in the right direction.

Advice for property graduates: Try to figure out early in your career what you really enjoy and what you’re really good at. For instance, being an agent and being a principal suit different personalities. When you have figured it out, work hard towards it.

What do you wish you had known when you were starting out? Starting a business is a marathon, not a sprint; it is a long, hard journey. And work with people you like, trust and admire. This goes for colleagues, investors and indeed everyone. This is what makes the journey tremendous fun.



The kings of connectivity

Will Newton Tom Redmayne

William Newton (l), 30, and Tom Redmayne (r), 29, UK director and director of business development UK, WiredScore

The pair picked up the Rising Star Award at this year’s EG Awards. Click here to read EG’s profile.

What was the driving force behind your success?

Newton: Whenever we speak to potential clients or people in the community about our product, some of their first reactions are “wow, we really need this” and their second reactions are “we can’t believe it didn’t exist already”. We filled a need that was very much there and we delivered that vision effectively.

What should the property industry expect to see from you next?

Newton: Our aim is to become the global standard for connectivity. We have already certified more than 280m sq ft of commercial real estate in the US and the UK and we plan to expand beyond those two countries very soon.

Who is your role model?

Redmayne: Arsene Wenger – he has done 20 years in a career where people usually last six to 12 months.

Newton: Stuart Shilson, an old boss at McKinsey. He manages to be what he jokingly calls a “tri-sector athlete”, working between the public, private and social sectors.

@wpnewton and @Tom_Redmayne


Thanks to the Zaha Hadid Design Gallery