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New Face in Property InterviewBy: Richenda Oldham

Charlie Cunningham, 33, CEO, FreshStart Living

Ex-City broker Charlie Cunningham, 33, joined property developers FreshStart Living as Chief Executive Officer in February 2012, with a view to preparing the company for flotation on AIM this year. Welsh born and Eton educated, Charlie trained as a barrister before joining Finn & Co, which later became the independent broker FinnCapp.
He is currently in training to run the Great Glen Way in Scotland  (79 miles in August) in aid of Great Ormond Street. Charlie takes his running very seriously, to the extent that a treadmill has been installed at FreshStart Living HQ, "So I can really start getting the miles under my belt."


What do you like best/enjoy most about your current job? 

The people. Our business moves incredibly quickly and there are new opportunities and challenges every day. I enjoy working with an exceptional team to ensure that we maximise the opportunities and overcome the challenges to continue to build a successful company.

What inspired you to move into property?

FreshStart Living. I have spent the last decade working with a variety of businesses across a range of sectors. I have seen many succeed and some fail – I believe that FreshStart has all the components of a market leading business and it is my job to ensure that it meets its potential.

What is the best advice you have ever been given?

Never be complacent. No matter how well you think you are doing, you can always do better. As soon as you relax, something will come along and trip you up!

Who has been the greatest influence on your life and why?

My family. They inspire me to work hard but remind me not to take life (and myself!) too seriously.

Why is the recession a good time to invest in property? 

Because it’s cheap! We are very fortunate position here at FreshStart Living in that all of our property has been acquired since the start of the recession and with no debt. It means that, once developed, we can let it and sell it a price that beats comparable properties in the area. There will always be demand for good quality properties at the right price.

What has been the most exciting moment in your life?

Professionally, it would have to be the day I signed my contract to become CEO of FreshStart Living. I had known the business for some time and became increasingly excited about the opportunity. It was a massive decision to make to uproot my young family (including a two month old baby) from Hertfordshire and move up North, but it has definitely been the right decision.

What is your motivation in life?

I firmly believe that the more you put in to life, the more you get out of it. That means that, if I do something, I always want to do it as well as I possibly can, whether it is running a company, running a marathon or being a husband or father. As a result, what makes me get up in the morning is usually a noisy child!

What is the best decision you have ever made?

Leaving Corporate Finance and joining FreshStart Living. Swinton is much more glamorous than the City!

If you could be a super hero, which one would you be?

I’d be The Transformer. I would be able to fly through towns and cities and have the ability to identify derelict and unused buildings that can be transformed into affordable accommodation. I’m quite outspoken about the need for local government to document the buildings that they own, which can then be redeveloped, it would be a simple solution to the UK’s housing crisis.

How has your move - from being a City broker - into property been received by the commercial property world? 

I have been welcomed warmly by everyone I have met. However, I suspect that people think I might have the magic solution to a lack of funding in the sector!

Tags: Interview

Features June 2012

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