We speak to Daniel Perfect, recently appointed as development director for luxury retirement property developer LifeCare Residences, about his career path the opportunities that his company and the housebuilding industry can offer today’s job-hunters.
What’s been your career path through housebuilding and development?
I started my career working at McCarthy & Stone as an assistant land buyer and progressed to land manager, before spending a number of years working at Persimmon Homes in their South East land team. I then returned to McCarthy & Stone, where I was promoted to the role of land director. I have recently taken up the role as development director at LifeCare Residences, the internationally renowned retirement community owner and operator.
When did you know that working in development was the right decision for you?
Almost immediately. It wasn’t a career that I had ever considered – having graduated with a politics degree – but the pace, problem-solving and, of course, the people within the industry suited me very well.
Working in the development sector is multi-disciplinary and the opportunity to work across law, planning, design, construction – and the occasional politics of the committee room – makes for a very interesting and challenging environment. It’s safe to say that no day is the same.
Are there particular projects and/or people that have been especially inspiring in your career?
LifeCare Residences’ development Battersea Place – London’s first luxury retirement village, is one of the most inspiring projects that I have worked on. By bringing together five-star standard hotel-style facilities, contemporary apartments and a full provision of nursing care, the product addresses the acute demand for this form of accommodation in London.
In terms of inspirational people, I have to give a mention to the great David Burne, currently land director of Redrow, without whom I wouldn’t have been given the chance to work in this fantastic industry.
What is LifeCare Residences’ policy on recruiting apprentices/graduates?
We employed our first apprentice over a year ago. Following the success of this appointment, we have employed our second apprentice, within the grounds maintenance department, at Grove Place in Hampshire. As a significant employer, we are seeking to build on the success of this initiative and take on further apprentices across all our villages.
What are the aspects of property development/housebuilding that most attract the people you take on?
Some of the best people I have worked with have come to this sector a little later in their career. They have been drawn to the industry by a shared passion for the same things which I love about development – namely, an entrepreneurial attitude to create a vision and the knowledge and commitment to see it through the ‘often-challenging’ process of acquisition, planning and construction.
Are there enough candidates of quality on offer right now?
Experienced development managers are integral to the delivery of any business’s objectives and, when a candidate has experience across both the front end of acquisition and planning, through into procurement and project delivery, they can become invaluable to any growing team.
What do you think the housebuilding industry needs to do to inspire more of the right applicants?
We need to be taking on more undergraduates studying for real estate degrees, alongside those with non-cognate qualifications – it is an excellent way of testing skills, connecting with universities and encouraging the best candidates to consider a client-facing development role.
As a whole, the industry needs to do more to demonstrate the opportunities that it offers those with a university education – it is about bringing a depth and diversity of talent in, and more formal and informal graduate schemes would be a great starting point for this.
Are there roles you are looking to fill right now?
We are always interested in hearing from experienced development managers who can help us drive forward LifeCare Residences’ exciting growth plans within the London market.