Early ambitions to work in the industry, couples with a relevant degree and a series of work experience placements, have led to a great role for Oliver Boag a property analyst in the acquisitions team at Inspired Asset Management, the property development and investment company behind the award-winning Inspired Homes brand. He talks us through his story to date.
Did you always have ambitions of working in the property industry?
I knew I wanted to work in property since my time at Cranleigh School. I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to join the school surveyor’s network which gave me access to some inspiring talks and interesting people who had enjoyed successful property careers. I was drawn to a real estate development career by all the different property disciplines it covered: identifying land, feasibility studies, planning, management and disposal.
I did a number of work experience placements and internships at CBRE, Savills, RO Development, Latchmere Properties and Inspired Asset Management, which only served to confirm my ambition to work in the property industry.
Can you tell us a bit about your degree?
I undertook a Real Estate Degree at Oxford Brookes University between 2008 to 2011, which covered all the core property disciplines: valuation, finance, investment, management, planning, construction, economics and law. A lot of the work was practical, utilising real life case studies and experience.
Through the university and property networks I joined, I was exposed to other inspiring and exciting disciplines of real estate which were not covered by the degree, such as property tech and alternative property sectors such as hostels and co working/living. I’m fascinated by the role technology increasingly plays in the design of a building and also the way it’s changing how we interact with property, for example with the growth of Airbnb and WeWork.
When did you start your job search and how did you find the process?
I started my job search at the bottom of the property market in 2011, which was a challenging time. There weren’t many jobs available and competition was tough. I tried all the traditional routes into jobs and internships as well as applying for smaller/unique businesses, but I was surprised by the sheer volume of applicants and the competition dating back from previous year groups. I looked at a range of positions ranging from surveying, investment, development and property tech. Although my degree was mainly focused on commercial real estate, I had to look outside what I previously knew to secure real estate experience, which on reflection wasn’t a bad thing.
The job search process was quite a learning curve, but I’m glad it wasn’t an easy ride as my commitment to the sector was tested right from the start. I’d advise new graduates today to keep their options open, keep a broad mind, get as much work experience as possible and network with a goal in mind.
What is it about working for Inspired and the role you have that is particularly appealing?
I was introduced to Inspired Asset Management in 2012 by a family friend. The business was relatively newly formed at the time and there were just five employees, focusing on redeveloping and redesigning auction properties to be rented to young professionals.
There wasn’t the budget at the time to offer me a paid role when my internship came to an end, so I secured a job at ARGUS Software providing modelling support and training on their valuation software programs to real estate companies. But it wasn’t long before I was back at Inspired Asset management and I joined permanently two-and-a-half years ago as part of the acquisition team.
It had grown considerably in that time, shifting from small auction deals to buying large office buildings ranging from 30,000 sq ft to 120,000 sq ft, which converted 30 to 180 units. I work within the acquisition team now and the approach is very entrepreneurial in delivering high-spec, affordable residential micro-units. The work involves the whole process of the acquisition – sourcing sites, carrying out feasibility studies, structuring the finance and working with consultants to produce a viable scheme.
The most exciting part of the job is finding the right commercial and residential buildings and working through the process to deliver well-designed, compact affordable units. Our CEO Martin Skinner is an inspirational boss. He has incredible vision of growing property businesses through identifying up and coming trends in the residential development market.
What are your long-term career ambitions?
The long-term plan is to focus on leading bigger and better projects and to be flexible to capitalise on emerging opportunities in the development industry. It’s an exciting time, there’s a lot of change happening and I hope to be at the forefront of that, capitalising on new opportunities such as PRS and the growth of co-living graduate products.