Oliver joined Get Living London at the start of 2017, with it giving him a change of direction from his previous military career.
What was your career before you joined Get Living London?
Before joining Get Living London I spent six years as an army officer. I served in the Queen’s Royal Hussars and commanded Challenger 2 main battle tanks. My military career took me on two operational tours of Afghanistan and serving in Germany, America, Canada and India. In Afghanistan I conducted dismounted infantry patrols, worked in battlegroup headquarters and was second-in-command of a combat task force of 230 soldiers working with the US marine corps. I finished as an Adjutant which involved a lot of time behind a desk in policy and spreadsheets and I knew it was time for a new challenge.
What made you want to come and work in the property industry and how do you think skills in your former career have helped you in this role?
Whether it is because it is tangible and ‘relatively’ understandable or because it presents long-term capital growth I have always been interested in property. So when it came to choosing a career path after leaving the army it seemed like an interesting option. As I have come to learn more about the industry clear similarities can be drawn with life in the military:
- People focused. To serve and lead soldiers was the greatest and most humbling experience of my life. When you have laughed with, ate with, slept with and fought with four grown men for four weeks in a very cramped tank without a shower you get close. That intensity cannot be matched in normal working environments, but it nurtures a frank, simple, friendly leadership style that I feel works well at Get Living London. We put our residents at the forefront in everything we do and the team’s ability to be friendly and clear is absolutely crucial to our success.
- Managing Risk. There's the element of risk that goes with residential investment. Despite being the largest asset class in the UK there are risks in residential property that need to be managed both at a strategic and at a tactical (day to day asset management) level. In the army you learn to accept risk, manage it where possible and take decisive action in a timely fashion and this is no different to managing property.
- National Significance. Even sitting in my tank in a dark field somewhere south of Hannover I always felt that I was contributing to a bigger picture. I was always interested in the wider context of defence and foreign affairs and I relished being at the frontline. It is important to be able to see the bigger picture and understand the second and third order effects of actions. The property industry is no different. The latest government White Paper highlights the importance of property and specifically residential property in the UK economy. At Get Living London we are championing a new way of renting within the Private Rental Sector and that is very exciting. Understanding that and relating it to our team, residents and partners is so important.
What’s the best thing about working for Get Living London?
Meeting residents and hearing their feedback. It’s also fun meeting future residents who bring friends because they cannot believe what we offer is not a scam. Finally being part of an ambitious, pioneering large-scale residential investor that is changing the way people rent is pretty awesome.
What advice would you give to someone who was thinking about changing industry and coming to work in Property?
People are the most important asset. They create homes, make communities and build businesses. Focus on the people.