Investing in young minds can help create places with purpose: Luca Buono

The macro-economic situation in the UK may threaten to hinder progress across the country, but the property sector cannot stand still.

Developers have an obligation to create much needed new homes, workspaces, infrastructure and community in the UK, but just how can they deliver such places at scale? The answer perhaps lies in nurturing a workforce that it is equipped for the future – investing in new talent and creating a generation of future property professionals who can deliver sustainable solutions.

In this blog, we meet Luca, a recent university graduate undertaking his RICS qualifications as he establishes his property career at HBD. Here Luca talks about his ambitions and his hopes for the industry.

I’m thrilled to be kicking off my career at HBD – working in an ambitious environment in which everyone wants to achieve.

I joined the business earlier this year, not long after graduating from university. The appeal was HBD’s commitment to creating new communities, workspaces, homes, industrial buildings, and other types of developments that are helping to meet the growing need for new, sustainable places in the UK.

That diversity in asset classes was a big appeal; I’m at the start of my career and it’s important that budding property professionals like me gain experience across the board. We’re the next generation who will be tasked with keeping the momentum and achieving the sector’s big goals – things like sustainability and net zero carbon– and I firmly believe we’ll be better equipped to meet them if we have more experience and wider exposure.

It’s especially helpful in sectors like housing; with an ageing UK population, developers are tasked with creating homes that will serve the differing needs of varying demographics. This is something of particular interest to me as I’m involved in HBDs The Chocolate Works scheme; where there is a mix of tenures and housing types to include high-end apartments and a care village. Equally though, developers need to upscale at pace to create homes for younger residents – something I am again involved in at our build to rent scheme in Mabgate, Leeds.

It’s important that we immerse ourselves in the changing needs of commercial occupiers too; in 2022, developers are tasked with creating workspaces that are worlds away from what they were just a decade ago. Modern commercial environments must promote wellbeing, have strong sustainability credentials, and help occupiers retain their talent in a hybrid world.

Exposure to that breadth of developments is key for young professionals like me – not only so that we are equipped to sustain future demand, but also so that we witness first-hand the agility of developers as they make changes and respond to macro social and economic changes.

And, while practical experience is important, it’s also essential that developers look to support the academic aspirations of new recruits – something that will help mitigate the impact of the skills shortage.

My route to industry was studying Politics at the University of Nottingham, followed by undertaking a masters in Property Development and Planning at Nottingham Trent. Now, thanks to support from HBD, I’m studying for my RICS qualification too.

For me, property is absolutely the sector I want to be in, and I’m lucky enough to work in a business that wants to invest in and further my skills. I hope it’s a trend that continues to grow across the industry, as we strive to create future proofed communities and sustainable new places with purpose.

Luca’s top tips for budding property professionals:

– Be keen: There’s so much to absorb in the world of property development. Whether you’ve been around for 10 months or 10 years, there’s still loads to learn, so it’s imperative that new recruits show a keenness to take in what they can.
– Be bold: You don’t ask, you don’t get! When I first applied to HBD, the role was actually for a qualified surveyor. The successful candidate was my colleague Sarah Gill, but HBD decided to take me on at the same time!
– Make friends: So many brilliant new places are being created thanks to partnerships between property developers – working in collaboration to bring new communities to life. Start small and create your own network so that you too have partners and people to call on later in your career.
– Find your purpose: Understand your values and where your passions lie – whether that be in a specific sector or even asset class. This can then act as a kickstart for the direction of the beginning of your career.