Staff stories

My BE Career: Emily Baigent, Sustainability Graduate

Across the many roles, levels of experience and subject experts in our team, what comes through loud and clear is the shared commitment to a better future for our industry, and our drive to help it get there. What does that look like? Emily Baigent shared some thoughts with industry magazine BE News recently, which gives a great perspective on that issue and many more.

Emily joined us on a student placement programme earlier this year, before becoming a full-time member of the team this month. To mark the occasion, she shared her views of the industry with BE News, including: the links between diversity, equity & inclusion, climate change, and the need to broaden our industry’s appeal for talented, passionate people.

It’s a powerful message as we seek to reach more individuals who have skills and perspectives to help create an even better built environment into the future!

“If more people had the opportunity to fall in love with the built environment, the world would be a far healthier and happier place to live.”

We couldn’t say it better ourselves! Read the full interview with Emily on BE News, here.

Celebrating Pride 2022: sharing and seeing

As June rolls around, and we recover from the shock of being half-way through the year already, it’s time to look forward to a month of Pride festivities with LGBTQ+ communities around the world.

The bright rainbow colours mark a history of hard-fought rights and acceptance, coinciding with the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. It’s an important time for organisations of all shapes and sizes to reflect on how we create a more open and welcoming world.

For the real estate industry, institutions like the RICS have a major part to play. On Wednesday June 8th, the RICS Pride 2022 event discusses the importance of visible role models and asks what more can be done to create an equal and inclusive profession for LGBTQ+ professionals.

Ahead of that, we caught up with Neil Gilbert and Greg Curtis in our team to hear about their journeys to being out at work, and their views on what works and what could still be improved across our industry to support those who aren’t yet able to be fully themselves in the workplace.

On limiting beliefs when coming out:

Neil Gilbert, Partner, Bristol:

My journey out at work was self-delayed: I told myself I must get Chartered first! I thought I needed to prove myself with hard work and professional merit before I would be seen as more than my sexuality in a straight-male-dominated environment.

Of course, when the big moment came there was no issue – only apologies from the team! That was in the 1990s, and the industry feels a world apart today. Nonetheless, I know many professionals (new joiners and old-timers alike) still feel anxious about being themselves, and I worry for those who struggle to be fully honest about their lives while at work.

Greg Curtis, Associate Director, Birmingham:

I haven’t always been out at work – in your early 20s there is a lot going on in your head and you can find that you’re unsure of yourself or what you really want. But I knew that I wanted to be authentic and not fabricate a life outside of work for my colleagues.

Looking back, I also realise it was important to give those around me the opportunity to see the real me and, likewise, to give the opportunity for others to show how kind and supportive they are. Genuinely, most people will be. If you’re not being honest, people can tell and they might not be open and honest back, which affects the relationships you build. Before I came out at work, I wasn’t 100% relaxed and comfortable in my own skin and this likely affected my confidence to perform to my best.

On visibility:


Giving a platform for role models is a great way to encourage diversity across our industry. It was one of the things that attracted me to TFT in the first place, seeing the visibility of LGBTQ+ people and allies in the business, including FreeHold Co-Founder David Mann.

Those were signs to me about the company’s approach to business and part of its personality, and a few years in I’m glad to say it’s still somewhere I feel totally comfortable to work!


Coming out at work is one thing, it’s another to make your ‘whole self’ more visible at work. I am a big advocate for everyone to bring personality into their working relationships over time, bit by bit.

As I’ve done so through the years, my work became more meaningful and my relationships much stronger. Contacts become clients, and even great friends. I don’t think that would be the case if I had held myself back.

On the role of networking:


For the industry as a whole, I definitely want to see a more diverse networking scene.  This could extend to a greater connection between all parts of the industry, professional services, construction and trades people, and not as separate entities. This should also be integrated with greater cooperation with BAME networking groups, Women in Property, or generally, any ally networks.


Networks are important, and they don’t always have to be LGBTQ+ forums. To those struggling to be themselves at work, it can help to attend any upcoming networking event where you can make an introduction to some new people in a different way. Mention your partner, a date, how you’ll celebrate Pride, or something else altogether. You might be surprised at the response you get – or lack thereof! It can help empower you to open up a little more when you’re back among colleagues and clients.

If you’re looking for a supportive LGBTQ+ network, FreeHold was founded as the first networking forum for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender professionals working within the real estate sector. Since its official launch in September 2011 by TFT’s David Mann and Saleem Fazal from Taylor Wessing, the group has grown to over 1000 members and continues to expand.

This year, you’ll find FreeHold at a number of events hosted by a range of property companies and industry bodies. Stay up to date with their news on their website and Twitter feed.

Mark on a Mission: LEJOG for The Bike Network

Mark Fenwick, Associate Director based in our London office is a very keen cyclist. Mark takes part in various fundraising events and is always looking for new ways to give back to the community. In just a few weeks Mark will be cycling the entire length of the country: from Land’s End to John O’Groats, with five other riders raising money for The Bike Network.

That’s a whopping 900 miles, 8 days of cycling and one very sore Mark.

Donate here at the team’s fundraising page and help them reach their goal!

About The Bike Network

The Bike Network was founded in 2017 by Adam Froggatt.

In 2017 I was diagnosed with Stage 3 Bowel Cancer. Cycling changed my life.

After my treatment had finished, I had 3 months to wait before my final operation to remove the tumour. I was overweight and wanted to do everything I could to help improve my chances of a successful operation and speedy recovery.

I had no clue what would happen after buying that used bike off eBay. Since buying that bike, it has truly changed my life; I am fitter, healthier, and stronger than before cancer. I have rode thousands of miles, completed an ultra-marathon and the Royal Marines triathlon whilst raising in excess of £15,000 for charity.

I have created The Bike Network in the hope others can experience the same benefits I have.

Adam Froggatt, Founder
Some of the LEJOG team enjoying lunch during training

Training has been a slow burner since the start of the year but in the last month I’ve begun to consistently get hours on the bike and time in the gym too. I’m now at the same fitness levels as my peak last year. So, I’m calmly comfortable that I will be ready come April.

No amount of training can prepare you for the huge physical and mental task at hand. But a good level of base fitness and a ‘never say die’ attitude – I hope – will see me through to the end.

I’m really looking forward to each moment we break through a county. It’s going to feel surreal to work our way through Cornwall, Devon, Somerset, Lancashire, to name a few!

Mark Fenwick on how he is preparing for LEJOG

Their journey begins on 19 April, keep an eye on our socials for LEJOG updates and more!

TFT Edinburgh at 5: revitalising Scotland’s capital city

TFT’s Edinburgh office is celebrating its fifth birthday with a difference. The office bash might have to wait for another year, but we’re looking back on some of our favourite projects to date, and the big things which lay ahead.

First up is Neil Wotherspoon, Partner and head of Edinburgh, to talk to us about the St James Quarter development we’re monitoring for Nuveen. It’s making an impact already and is set to be a breath of fresh air for Scotland’s capital.

St James Quarter development

“Looking back on the journey of our Edinburgh office is deeply personal to me. Since I opened the office in 2015, our team, our work and our client list has grown and diversified a great deal. We’ve gone from strength to strength to offer our specialist services to incredible clients in Scotland and across the rest of the UK and Europe.

One project in particular has come to define my relationship with the city itself, personally and professionally: the St James Quarter development which I am monitoring on behalf of our clients Nuveen and APG. In fact, we were expecting two great parties as a St James Quarter milestone and our office birthday coincided in October. But for now at least we’ll make do with a visit to the Zoom Pub!

I moved to Edinburgh in 1998, so I know the St James Quarter site has always had a challenging place in the city. I don’t recall the old office space ever being occupied and the shopping centre was a short-cut rather than a destination. Yet, the site took up a large part of the east of Edinburgh. St James Quarter will completely change that. I’m not sure whether many residents appreciate the full scale of the new development, so I hope they will be surprised by all it contains, and how it will open up that part of the city. The incredible views will also show the city in a new way, and not just for the residential apartments and W Edinburgh guests. Towards Leith Street at level 5 there will be a publicly available courtyard with great views over Carlton Hill.

I think the structure itself it also going to help people move around the city differently. For instance, oddly Edinburgh has a limited selection of covered public areas to seek refuge from the Scottish weather. But the St James Quarter galleria roof will provide that sheltered street feel and build a great atmosphere too. You may have already seen some of the unique design features, but I think the lighting design is going to be really impressive in the galleria and on the W Hotel. Without getting in to the specification, I can say that these interactive, responsive and unique designs will be a first for visitors, unlike anything else in Scotland.

I can’t say that this year is everything I wanted for our fifth birthday celebrations. But even in these tough times I believe there’s an awful lot to be positive about. When SJQ opens in Spring 2021 it will begin a major positive change for the city itself, boosting not only the local economy but also the lives of residents and visitors alike.”

Read more about the transformation going on at Edinburgh’s St James Quarter, here.