The new homes industry offers career opportunities across a range of disciplines, and here we speak exclusively to Chris Dale, the founder of Vesta Interior Design, about his part in the housebuilding sector and the career path that got him there.
Please tell us about your role and the qualification/training/career path that took you there.
I am CEO Of Vesta Interior Design, a small collective of the best people I have worked with over my career, which I set up last year. I have a law degree but found the subject too dry and the idea of being stuck in an office every day I learnt early on was my idea of hell. The rest I learnt on the job. The more you put in and having a genuine interest in the field of work makes learning and growth so much more enjoyable.
What sort of projects have you worked on to date, and what was it about them that you most enjoyed?
I have supported some of the biggest developers and schemes in London. From huge projects like Battersea Power Station, Earls Court and Elephant and Castle’s regeneration through to apartments at some of the world’s most exclusive addresses, such as 199 Knightsbridge.
I love seeing a developer’s vision take shape, but what I love most is speaking to the purchasers who buy there to find out what made them choose their particular property.
What work challenges does your role entail, and what gives you most satisfaction to overcome?
As touched upon above, every investor or end user has a different goal in mind when it comes to designing their property. Some of these are very unique, and dare I say unrealistic, and it’s my job to guide them so they can achieve them. This can be a challenge if the client is very much set on an unattainable idea.
Are there specific professional and personal skills that would make someone especially suited to a role like yours?
You have to love interacting with people – I love the people side even more than the creative or property side. You also need to be able to listen and be super-calm; you can’t portray your stress to your clients as they are normally more stressed than you are already, and it’s your job to reassure them.
With the high targets of housebuilding being set, do you think opportunities in this sector will change much?
I actually don’t. From a building point of view, my understanding from sites is there just isn’t the volume of different labour skill sets to hit the numbers required. I also think because of the resultant shortage of stock, and the consistently high demand, especially in London, many developers are very unwilling to evolve from what they know, which is a shame.
Are there other roles in property that you particularly admire?
I do admire the planning teams that have to do the community facing presentations to the local residents. Obviously if you’re a resident, generally you don’t like or want change, and see the developer as the big bad wolf so to speak, so those community forums can get very heated and volatile!
I remember a particular one in South London, it was a prime example that you have to be extremely calm and open with the people who live there or it gets very out of hand. There were pickets and websites and it got violent in instances.
Do you have any advice for anyone inspired by your career path?
You have to be all or nothing to succeed in any role and mine is no different – I’ve always been self-motivated and you really need that get up and go. Over the past decade or so my role has changed so much – not only has it spread across three continents, but I’ve seen the end of a property boom and a recession. No year is ever the same, but if you embrace it you get the most from it and that’s why I love what I do.