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Interview with Edward Jones, PMB HoldingsBy: Richenda Oldham

Edward Jones, CEO, PMB Holdings

Edward Jones graduated from Reading University with a BSc (Hons) in Land Management, Planning and Property Development in 1988. He started his career with Rugby Securities and, following a period at Link Parks Group, joined the real estate corporate finance team at Barclays de ZoeteWedd in 1992. In 1997, Edward moved to Grosvenor Developments with responsibility for a number of major development projects both on and off Grosvenor’s London Estate. Edward joined PMBH in September 2000 and since 2001 has been responsible for the Group’s investment and development business in the UK. He became CEO in April 2012. When Edward was 18, he worked his way across America on a travelling carnival.

What do you enjoy most about your current job?
My focus has always been the same, to take old and tired looking buildings and transform them into modern and attractive working buildings. At PMB Holdings, this is something we are all passionate about. Take our latest project, where we have just embarked on the redevelopment of Berwick Street in Soho, London’s West End. The street has one of London’s most visited markets and currently it is surrounded by tired looking buildings, dating back to the 60s. Our plan is to bring new life to the area while maintaining its strong sense of character and local Soho feel; it is this kind of project that gets me really excited.

What or who inspired you to go into commercial property?
My father. He was a commercial property lawyer and I would often get the chance to meet some of his clients. From day one, I always thought the most interesting clients of his were the property developers. They were charismatic and passionate about their work and since meeting a few at a young age, I knew I wanted to be a developer and get the chance to work in property with dynamic people. 

Who has been the greatest influence on your life and why?
Definitely my Grandmother. She died a couple of years ago at the age of 101. She always told me to look at things from others people’s perspective and it is a piece of advice I have taken through life.

What is the best career advice you have ever been given?
The best piece of career advice I was ever given was to make sure I loved what I did, otherwise there was no point doing it. Your work is going to take up a large amount of your life, so if you do not enjoy it, you’ll never be really good at it.

What is the best career decision you have ever made?
I think it’s always important to go where you feel you will make a difference, progress and be challenged. I feel I have done exactly that at PMB Holdings, so moving to this company in September 2000 has definitely been the best career decision I have made to date.

If you hadn't gone into property, what else would you have liked to do?
I would have definitely been a racing driver. Sebastian Vettel would not have stood a chance.

What advice would you give to a young person wanting to get a toehold in the property profession today?
In today’s market I think it is so important for young people to get as much work experience as they possibly can. Jobs are thin on the ground and work experience can offer young people the chance to try their hand at a number of different occupations. By doing this, it will enable them to broaden their horizons and maybe even discover a role that had never been considered before. Property has so many different careers paths within it, so I think this is the most sensible and productive approach.

What advice would you give to someone contemplating investing in commercial property in the current market?
During this economic downturn, vendors, banks and partners are all more risk averse.  Therefore, for those that are contemplating investing in commercial property in the current market, I would strongly advise that you work with an experienced partner. This will enable you to learn and gain a better understanding of today’s market and how to operate within it. The property market is a complex one due to financial constraints, so it is vital to be aware of this and make calculated decisions.

What, currently, is the biggest threat to commercial property?
The biggest threat is a serious lack of debt finance and liquidity. A lot of businesses are in difficult positions without easy access to funds. This has dramatically affected the property market.

What changes would you like to see the Government make to help commercial property development?
I would like to see them streamline the planning process and abolish empty rates.

How different is the commercial property market now to when you started and what changes do you regret/welcome?
It is very different. It is much more sophisticated, especially the financial side of the industry.  There is so much more information readily available and everything is much more professional. I welcome all the changes and I believe they have only benefited the sector, making it an exciting industry to work within.

Is there such a thing as a typical day at work for you? If so, can you describe it?
No, that is the great thing about working at PMB Holdings, every day is different. One day I am discussing projects located in the centre of London, the next I am looking at how to develop our new data centre, the MK DataVault in Milton Keynes. There is just so much variety, I never get bored!

What do you do to unwind after a hard week at work?
I enjoy spending time with my wife, family and friends whether it be walking the dog or going out to dinner.  I also enjoy cooking which I find very relaxing, so any chance I get to cook for the family, I do.

Tags: Interview

Features January 2013

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