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Interview with Ray Bloom, CEO, John D WoodBy: Richenda Oldham

Ray Bloom, CEO, John D Wood

At just 25 years of age, Ray Bloom purchased the Mayfair based commercial property firm John D Wood, which was founded in 1872. Since buying the company in late 2009, Ray Bloom has built up and attracted a host of new clients including Dyson, MWB Group and retailer Liberty. In early 2011, the company broke into the international property market after winning a management contract on a mixed development scheme in New Cairo, Egypt.

In less than three years, Bloom has more than doubled annual turnover to above £2m and is targeting £5m over the course of the next couple of years. He has also drawn up exciting plans to build a network of franchises throughout the UK and has so far generated a wealth of interest with prospects of an ever growing business model.

During 2011-2012, Ray Bloom has been a prominent public figure in the property industry. He has participated in the Property Week PODCAST hosted by radio presenter James Max, giving his views and expertise on the property market. He has also been nominated for numerous awards for his contribution and excellence in the property market. In February 2012, he won the 'Young Entrepreneur of the Year' award at the Young Norwood Property Awards.

Ray is also a Young Patron of UJIA and Co-Chairman of the Young UJIA Property Committee.

What do you like best about your current job?

I guess being a CEO at such a young age does have its benefits. Having the authority to call the shots and run the business the way I want is extremely satisfying. I’m very focused and determined to succeed and having no one to stop me, gives me immense pleasure.

What was your first job?

During the summer months when I was 16, I was given the opportunity to have work experience at Pearl & Coutts, part of the Structadene Group. I was working for David Pearl, one of the industries prolific names and it was a fantastic opportunity to learn the basics of the property world.

What inspired you to work in property?

For the duration of my work experience with David Pearl, I was inspired in many ways on how to succeed in business. It was this inspiration that gave me the stepping stone I needed to decide where my career path was headed. The property game is exciting, challenging and there is the opportunity to be very financially successful.

What do you enjoy most about commercial property?

For me it’s all about the networking. Working in the commercial property world opens many doors, doors which lead to opportunities. These opportunities are only achievable by talking to the right people and networking. It’s a topic I am extremely passionate about and one that I thoroughly enjoy.

What changes have you noticed within property during the recession?

How professionals within the industry value their job. Employees are working longer hours and above all are hungry to succeed. Even though the recession is dominating the public eye, there are always deals to be done and business to be achieved. I avoid thinking about doom and gloom; I look at every opportunity with a positive, there is always an angle.

What advice would you give to a young person wanting to get a toehold in the property profession today?

Work hard, be patient and listen. The property industry is so vast and there is so much to take in. I find young people these days are very eager to jump from one position to another just to make money as quickly as possible. It doesn’t work like that I’m afraid. Patience is key and with that you can master anything.

What is the best decision you have every made?

When I was told there was an opportunity to buy John D Wood commercial, there was no doubt in my mind that this was an opportunity I had to rise to. It was daunting at first, however, once I had put my business plan together, I knew my decision to go for it was the best one I had ever made in my entire life.

What is the best advice you have been given?

Good things come to those who wait. I always knew that if I put in the hours and conducted myself in a professional manner, I had the opportunity to succeed.

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

I’m often asked this question and the response is simple, my immediate family. Having grown up in a strong minded and ambitious family environment, it gave me the tools and confidence to succeed. I’ve never been restricted or told I’m not good enough – the world has always been an open place in my eyes, a place filled with opportunity.

Has your youth been a handicap in any way, ie when obtaining funding for the purchase of John D Wood?

Absolutely not.  I thought it would be initially, however, people appreciate the idea of someone young and vibrant taking on their business. They know that the effort will be put in.  I have an amazing brand name that is recognised significantly in the market place. My continuous goal is to increase and build the business by hard work, professional service and passion. Although it was not the first investor I approached who said yes; the second investor did not hesitate, as they knew it was a fantastic opportunity with little risk.

What has been the most exciting moment in your life?

Without a doubt it has to be when John D Wood went international. We were approached in summer 2011 to manage a new mixed-use development in Egypt. Having met with the developers and seen the sites in person it was just too good to turn down. Our first international office has just opened and we have been approached to manage other developments in the region.

What has been your biggest challenge since buying John D Wood?

Older members of staff were very receptive – I thought that would be the major challenge.  Another element is getting new business and attracting new clients. A topic which is challenging in this market although one that we are succeeding in – one of our newest clients we have worked with is Dyson.

What was the reaction from the commercial property world when you bought JDW?

It was a mixed response initially. However, over time I have gained a lot of respect among my competitors and peers within the industry. The work I have achieved in the short space of time I have owned the business has also been widely recognised by the industry. For the best part of the past 12 months, I have received five nominations in multiple property awards, highlighting my achievements and came 11th in the HOT 100 Rising Property Stars of 2012.

Are you a surveyor or a businessman or both?!

One of the most challenging experiences I found when becoming Chief Executive was the transformation of becoming a businessman from a surveyor.  While a very large proportion of my time is carried out being a surveyor, the rest of my time I am a businessman. My outlook has changed on how I approach scenarios both from a financial and business perspective. The balance, however, was simple, work longer hours which allows ample time for both roles. This not only grounds me as a person, it also ensures our clients are happy at the service they are receiving and that the business continues to prosper.

When not being a supercharged CEO, what do you do to unwind?

When I occasionally have time to unwind, I like to spend it with my wife Nikki. I am also a keen golfer. Since becoming a businessman, I’ve learnt that this is the sport you must be part of. Not only is it a fantastic game, it’s also a great networking opportunity.  

Tags: Interview

Features September 2012

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