As the Global leaders of multinational businesses meet in Davos this week, I decided to do some networking of a different kind, attending Propski – the networking and skiing event held for young professionals in Val Thorens.
Over the last 4 years the event has grown from 100 people to over 250 attending this year and the founders, two of my colleagues, Chris Walters and Will Chambers help to organise this successful event. JLL has been a keen key supporter from the beginning and after much lobbying, I was persuaded that some senior presence at the event would be constructive.
Damian Wild (Editor of Estates Gazette) and Rob Bould (CEO of Bilfinger-GVA) also attended and as result we were able to hold a Question Time event on the Monday afternoon – more on that later.
I met people from all aspects of real estate, from the markets businesses of investment and agency, right across to architects, project managers and property managers and am pleased to report that the attendees really do view this as a business networking opportunity. The age group is also diverse – I was not the only business leader and not the only person over the age of 40! This came as a great relief, particularly as day became night – you could see cluster of “oldies” taking things easy at the dinner table as the rest of the congregation got livelier……much livelier!
The response to our idea of a CEO Question Time was excellent. This took place on a chilly terrace with an audience of just over 100 people to listen to Rob Bould and myself being questioned by Damian Wild and the audience. It was the highest Question Time ever recorded at nearly 3,000m but also with an open mic so very honest and frank views were shared by all. As well as all aspects of leadership, we discussed the current geopolitical situation which is particularly relevant given the first few weeks of turbulent results and stock market trading.
As commentators tend to fear the worst, a young audience is more interested in the opportunity that the future brings rather than all the things that can go wrong. My advice was to continue to be mobile and flexible – in the first 10 years of your career, it is important to travel and gain experience across a broad number of sectors before you specialise in one particular area.
On my journey home, I reflected that there are few industries which show this drive and energy to bring together 250 young professionals in such a way. Real Estate is a networking industry, but it also has it faults. Those in the early stages of their property career, under the stewardship from the more experienced, can Change of the Face of Property by making it more diverse, more open and more connected to the wider business community.
It is also important we have fun, so after a brief 36 hour visit I called time and left the youngsters to it. See you next year Val Thorens!