News

TFT Partner becomes Chairman of local Bristol charity

The West of England MS Therapy Centre, newly branded as ‘The Brightwell’ is one of TFT’s local charity partners for 2019 and TFT Partner, Paul Spaven, has today been announced as their incoming Chairman.

The charity, based in Bradley Stoke of North Bristol, provides both treatments and therapies to those living with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and other neurological conditions. Paul joined the charity as a Trustee in April 2016 following his introduction to their team when completing remedial works on the Centre and has since supported the centre through donations, fundraising and volunteering, both individually and alongside colleagues in the TFT Bristol office.

In September 2018, Paul joined three TFT colleagues in the TFT-sponsored fundraiser “Take the Plunge” for the Centre, donating over £750 to bring comfort and ease to the daily lives of the members from the centre.

Last May, TFT were also sponsors of the “2018 Brunel Neurological Alliance Study Day” which focussed on mental health and wellbeing with the aim to provide a deeper understanding of the impact neurological conditions can have on these, and vice-versa.

As part of his new role, Paul will be taking forward the new branding as a catalyst for growth, recognition and development of the centre and its services. He aims to improve the facilities for members, widen the appeal and use of its facilities and to increase access to oxygen service, such as for those requiring a speedy recovery from sports injuries.

My journey to property: Pardip Kaur, Business Data Manager

Lastly, we speak to Pardip Kaur, Business Data Manager, to learn a bit about her journey to TFT and why she encourages more women to continue pushing boundaries and add something unique to the property industry!

How did you get into the industry and your role?

I started working in the property industry 20 years ago at RICS within their events department. I was at the RICS for 6.5 years. When I joined RICS, the events were heavily attended by male surveyors, but by the time I left, I was working with females who were on the professional working groups for building surveying and building control.

My profession means I can work within a variety of industries, but it’s because of the wonderful people I have met through the years that I have remained in property circle (some of these are now my close friends!).

Have you come across any particular challenges within it? 

I’ve not really found any challenges within the industry. This might be due to the type of roles I have had and my strong personality. 

Do you have any advice to give people who don’t know too much about it or who are considering going into the industry?  

My experience within the industry has always been a positive one. I wouldn’t be where I am today if it had not have been for the people I met throughout my career. The industry is very open and approachable.  

My journey to property: Jennifer Hobart, Senior Building Surveyor

Here we speak to Jennifer Hobart, Senior Building Surveyor, to learn a bit about her journey to TFT and why she encourages more women to fight stereotypes and continue pushing boundaries.


How did you get into the industry and your role?

I went down the standard route of applying to university as an encouraged next step after 6th form but very quickly realised I did not enjoy studying Classics as much I thought I might. As a result, I dropped out and went home. However, I’d always found the architectural part of Classics interesting and somehow found a very tenuous link to surveying.

Surveying as a career seemed to fit with how I saw my work- life going. I didn’t always want to be in the office so getting out and about to see buildings sounded interesting. Though I was quite disappointed when I found out that using the tripods you see on the sides of roads would not be part of the job!

Have you come across any particular challenges within it?

Not really. Though I do recall being told early on that this might not be the career for me… Luckily, I’m stubborn and it spurred me on!

Do you have any advice to give people who don’t know too much about it/who are considering going into the industry?

Do your research and ask current professionals about the job – there are so many directions you can go in. When I first started at university, I only really envisaged surveying houses for homebuyers, it didn’t even occur to me that there were commercial routes, valuation, general practice etc. Make sure the university you apply to is RICS accredited.

Lastly, always have your phone on your person on site, you never know when you might accidentally lock yourself in a cupboard!

Diversity and culture (and you) help us navigate the future

TFT Partner for HR & Operations, Chris Keates-Lewis, explains how a personal and flexible culture helps diverse teams thrive, and enables the business to navigate a changing world.

How can we make International Women’s Day more than just an annual celebration? By acknowledging its central message – that what individuals can do is more important than the labels we might carry, and that nobody should be limited by bias.

It sounds simplistic, and of course the reality can be complex in organisations or industries which have deeply entrenched legacy practices. But wider understanding of diversity as critical to our business’ performance should help to undo these legacies sooner.

We in the property and built environment industries are grappling with challenging forces, including geo-political uncertainty, technological progress, social change and environmental factors too. Together, they are shifting our needs and expectations of buildings, both as owners and occupiers – they also mean more people than ever before can take part in the industry and shape our built environment for a brighter future.

Through over 30 years at TFT, I’ve seen first-hand the evolution of building, growing to encompass a broadening array of issues than in the years before. While tools and knowledge are always developing, we also need diversity to bring greater vision and different talents to complex challenges.

Today, TFT’s teams include more diverse roles and skills than at any time in our history – from sustainability, architecture, engineering, building surveying, wellbeing, energy modelling, development management and more besides. Even disciplines which resemble those we’ve been hiring for throughout our history are changing, with new technology and commercial challenges to address.

READ MORE: We spoke with five ladies across TFT who represent a growing range of roles and experiences across the modern industry. Find out more about their journeys here.

We’re proud to look across our offices today and see a diverse array of talented people all contributing their skills to shape the future built environment. We’ve been growing our business with people of all backgrounds, gender, age, nationality and qualifications – creating a richer business from a broad set of roles, skills and perspectives.

It also requires a different approach to management and culture. It means our talent development policy can’t be one-size-fits-all, so we consult with individuals on their own needs and invest in solutions to help them succeed. Whether it’s raising a family, overcoming health challenges, supporting a passion project or changing career path, different people have different needs to meet. As an employer, we want to help our people be the best they can be, whatever their circumstances.

The most diverse organisations aren’t necessarily the loudest ones on International Women’s Day, but those fostering a culture to provide every employee the best experience year-round.

To the pioneers coming in to the industry to build a better future, we hope that TFT will always be a place to grow, challenge yourself and make an impact on the world – and that our differences will only make us stronger.

My journey to property: Jacqui Allen, Partner

Here we speak to Jacqui Allen, Building Surveyor and Partner at TFT, to learn a bit about her journey to property and why she encourages more women to continue pushing boundaries.

How did you get into the industry and your role?

I originally did a degree in architecture as I was interested in art, design and buildings. I then re-trained as a building surveyor when I was involved with conservation work at English Heritage.

Have you come across any particular challenges within it?

In my opinion, there are no particular challenges as a female, but I think you need to have a robust personality and be strong to be in the construction industry as a woman. If you know your stuff and do a good job it doesn’t matter what gender you are!

Do you have any advice to give people who don’t know too much about it/ who are considering going into the industry?

Do it! It’s a really varied role and no two days are the same. It is constantly challenging mentally and the opportunity to work on a huge variety of buildings definitely keeps it interesting.

My journey to property: Emily Young, Graduate Building Surveyor

Here we speak to Emily Young, Graduate Building Surveyor, to learn a bit about her journey to TFT and why she encourages more women to continue pushing boundaries.

How did you get into the industry and your role?

I have always been fascinated by historic buildings, architecture and the magnitude of some construction projects. I went to college for Architectural Conservation but was unable to do a degree in this so went down the Building Surveying Pathway which encapsulates all I love about the built environment and construction industry!

Have you come across any particular challenges within it?

Being a female in a traditional male environment can be challenging when getting your point across without being silenced or ‘mansplained’, but if you hold your own and are confident in what you do there should be no challenges! We all have the same degrees and do the same work so why should there be a difference between male/female building surveyors.

Do you have any advice to give people who don’t know too much about it/who are considering going into the industry?

It is a great industry to work in. The variety of workload is challenging but very enjoyable. One minute you could be working on a multimillion-pound project and the next you could be doing a site inspection of a huge empty warehouse in the middle of nowhere. It’s a great job and I am very lucky to be doing what I love every day!

My journey to property: Natalia Ford, Senior Sustainability Consultant

We’re celebrating #BalanceforBetter this International Women’s Day to help inspire a more diverse range of people to consider how they can help shape the future built environment.

To begin, we spoke with five ladies from across TFT who each represent different roles and experiences. They reflect some of the exciting roles within the industry as well as the different backgrounds which can set somebody up for a career in the world of property and development.

Here we speak to Natalia Ford, Senior Sustainability Consultant, to learn a bit about her journey to TFT and why she encourages more women to continue pushing boundaries.

How did you get into the industry and your role?

Whilst living in Spain for a few years, I worked in various property-related industries including real estate, architecture, construction and development and it left an impression on me – mainly a negative one – as much of what I saw was development done terribly!

I then came back to the UK to do a masters in Environmental Management and whilst half way through the course I realised that the industry I knew the most about had some big, hairy problems, so I decided to specialise in built environment issues.

I applied to the UK Green Building Council (UKGBC) for an internship which eventually turned into a full-time role and I spent six years learning about how the industry works and how it is currently facing up to environmental, social and economic challenges.

Have you come across any (other) particular challenges within it?

Other than the stark, intractable challenges of our future climate, soil health, biodiversity, bioabundance, energy security, urban poverty, social equity, physical and mental health and how the buildings we create contribute to that…?

Yes, there are undoubtedly challenges both in the work itself and in being a woman in a male-dominant sector. But probably the main challenge is convincing people that things do not have to be done in the way things have always been done and that it’s worth exploring where the business opportunities and value can be found in a “business-as-unusual” scenario.

Do you have any advice to give people who don’t know too much about it or who are considering going into the industry?

For the sustainability industry, I would say eternal optimism and patience is quite helpful!

More broadly though, genuine curiosity and enthusiasm goes a very long way even if you don’t consider yourself to have a lot of knowledge. Often employers will recruit people they feel have potential, so don’t worry about not knowing everything yet!

TFT votes to support local causes

In January, we were happy to ring in the New Year by giving everybody at TFT an extra day of leave to help a charity of their choice. Now, we are deepening our commitment to the local communities of each office around the country, with each office voting on local charities close to their homes and hearts, to support beyond the day job.

Each of our 7 offices in the UK (Bristol, Cardiff, Guildford, London, Manchester, Birmingham and Edinburgh) have chosen their two local charities in hope to give back to the communities they value the most. Typically, local charities are often in need of extra feet on the ground, so we hope this will also encourage more volunteering opportunities for each office.

While local charities benefit from personal involvement of local people, our teams will also see the impact of their contributions first hand.  

We want to be part of the bigger picture, helping to improve local environments and economies. Not only do local charities employ locally, encouraging personal interactions, but they also contribute to the growth and improvement of the direct community around us. As this community around us grows, we see significant and visible results enhancing overall wellbeing (Guardian, 2014).

Chris Keates-Lewis, Head of HR, said:

“This is an exciting direction for us, bringing our offices together in a TFT global effort to improve the lives of those closest to us, and the environment in which we enjoy our lives.”

The chosen charities include:

London: Bankside Open Spaces and Coram’s Fields

Guildford: Challengers and Macmillan Surrey

Bristol: St Peter’s Hospice and The West of England MS Therapy Centre

Cardiff: The Wallich and Ty Hafan

Birmingham: Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice and Zoe’s Place

Manchester: Wood Street Mission and 42nd Street

Edinburgh: The Cystic Fibrosis trust and Staffie Smiles.

TFT will also continue to support LionHeart and LandAid as their chosen national charities.

Sustainability and wellbeing standards re-aligned: WELL Crosswalks

The International Well Building Institute (IWBI) has released an update to the WELL crosswalk tool following the release of WELL version 2. The update aims to make this certification more accessible, impactful and better localised to its users around the world, by aligning WELL with sustainability assessments like BREEAM and LEED.

The latest release enables WELL version 2, as a standard for human health and wellbeing, to mesh with the most updated version BREEAM 2018, the leading sustainability assessment in the world – on which we advise many clients’ strategy and implementation across their schemes.

There are few synergies as connected and complementary as sustainability for both our planet and for people everywhere. Longevity is at the heart of the term “sustainability” – preserving and enhancing what we have now for generations to come.

From IWBI’s introduction to their latest WELL v2/ BREEAM crosswalk tool

But what impact does this have on our work, and for client projects?

Simply, the crosswalk tool insures that WELL version 2 and BREEAM New Construction 2018 cater to new developments across the UK, meaning that requirements for both are better aligned and can be met more efficiently.

Looking further ahead, this latest update shows the power of engagement with standards bodies. We have been proactive in communicating with IWBI for the WELL building standard to adapt and evolve for a better fit with other industry standards within the UK.

Our voice, along with those of other outspoken users in the wellbeing and sustainability community, has been well heeded by IWBI, which is clearly interested in developing its work to fit the needs of its users, and in providing a flexible standard for a globally developed WELL community.

It’s a great sign for continued advancement – both of the standard and therefore the quality of the buildings it contributes to.

My MIPIM: Dan Henn

As we start to imagine the sand between our toes and the smell of the fresh ocean air, we spoke to another TFT MIPIM attendee, Dan Henn (Partner and Head of Development & Project Consultancy) to get his view on regional trends and how to seize the opportunities MIPIM has to offer.

What has changed the most in the industry, since MIPIM 2018?

Despite the uncertainty surrounding Brexit, the property and construction world seems to be more or less business as usual. There was a hiatus of decision making in the industry after the May 2017 general election but eventually those time-bound decisions that weren’t being made (which were becoming urgent) had to be made – and the work continues apace.

What would you like to see more (or less) of at MIPIM 2019?

More sunshine and less rain!

What industry topic isn’t getting enough attention?

Retail parks. We are all very used to hearing about the high street and the need to keep up with the pace of the changing consumer behaviour, as our shopping habits become more online-oriented. Will retail parks fall by the wayside, will they become more important, or take a new form altogether?

We’re seeing such a demand across other burgeoning sectors (industrial, logistics, build to rent and senior living) – they represent a wealth of opportunities to re-purpose poorly trading sites into an alternative high performing asset.

What regional trends would you like to explore at MIPIM?

I’m interested in the booming market in the midlands. Following an uptick of activity TFT is investing in project management and cost consultancy resources to match client demand for our services across the region.

Elsewhere, there are interesting micro-markets in London where demand for offices is still strong and fuelling development.

What should every MIPIM first-timer do, or not do?

Don’t fill your diary up too much! The temptation is to accept every offer going in a hope to make sure that you are fully occupied. The real value is in those chance meetings walking along La Croisette or queuing for a drink at the London stand.

On a similar note, avoid those tempting lunches at a fantastic venue but out in the sticks. As nice as they are, they can take you away from the hub where those chance conversations are happening.