InFocus: Jack Haining

JackHainingMilanRecent Graduate Jack Haining tells RREF of his secondment in Milan.

By Jack Haining (BSc 2015), Graduate Surveyor, Grosvenor.

Jack graduated in 2015 and sits on the RG10 Committee, he was recently seconded to Milan for six months with Grosvenor and has written about his experience to share with RREF and other alumni.

In August last year I was approached about a less conventional graduate role, and within 6 weeks found myself relocating to Milan. I joined Grosvenor Fund Management (GFM)’s Italian office, working under the Italian stewardship of Pietro Clemente, an experienced GFM Director.

Over the years, Pietro has developed an impressive professional network of trusted agents and lawyers. Indeed, Grosvenor has been active in Italy for over 10 years and under Pietro’s management has developed a strong reputation for trust, transparency and timely execution, all genuine differentiators in the Italian real estate market. As a result we have benefitted from visibility on a large number of potential deals and market information.

There is strong investor appetite to pursue prime northern Italian retail assets in an increasingly attractive Italian real estate market. Interest stems from strong returns alongside greater market understanding, transparency and liquidity and a broadly positive outlook for the Italian economy. In fact, investor appetite across European market sectors is generally strong due to the combined effects of low interest rates, recovering economies and perceived risks in emerging markets.

It was a good time to arrive and I quickly got stuck in, assisting with the sourcing, analysis, approval, bidding and, when successful, acquisition stages of property investment. For me, because the work was transaction driven, it was either all hands on deck or comparatively less busy between times.

Although the work was engaging and fast paced, early on, life was unsurprisingly challenging. I was in a new country, with a new language, home, culture, job and I didn’t know anybody. On reflection, this initial shock to the system was crucial in opening up for me a frame of mind in which I could learn, develop and progress.

At times I had to dig deep to maintain an outgoing, open-minded and resilient approach – all key characteristics when in a new environment.

JackHainingMilan2So, what was life like living in Italy?
Firstly, the exuberance, enthusiasm and general love of life that Italians possess is contagious and fun. As the novelty foreigner, I’m sure this was at first exaggerated although it became apparent that the people I met shared a natural flair that was distinctive and something I previously hadn’t experienced on such scale.

Simple things like doing grocery shopping and generally understanding the meaning of all of the background noise was a fast track lesson in getting out there and making real the life of deals, negroni sipping and cycling that I had imagined. Although often alone in a physical sense, I was part of a close-knit team of experts based across Europe. To get deals to the investment committee with considered and accurate inputs, the remote team had developed a strong and collaborative approach to get the job done, which I liked. Detail was critical and creativity with asset plans was crucial to producing the most compelling investment case possible.

Life was not conventional – I would often be travelling around Italy on the fantastic Frecciarossa trains covering 300km/h, visiting assets, inspecting properties and meeting Italians. When in Rome, I had to get around the City and learnt that public transport was frankly poor. I found a moped store and decided to take to the two wheeled hairdryer mode of transport, racing around the City, making me feel like a fully fledged Italian.

In my spare time I managed to meet lots of people and after a translation disaster, I accidently joined an Italian divorcee women’s cycle club. Although not as racy and aggressive as my usual rides, I quickly was integrated into the group, enjoying glasses of wine mid ride and getting involved with bizarre, lively middle -aged dinner parties. I also found time to head out alone up to Lake Como and tackle famous Italian climbs and generally get horribly lost and exhausted.

JackHainingMilan3Summing things up…
It’s not particularly common to move internationally whilst a graduate but put simply, the business we do is becoming increasingly international. Whether it be our sources of finance, investors, JV partners or even our colleagues, the work Grosvenor undertakes around the world is vast. Interestingly, there are common principles Grosvenor employees apply across the world, while of course approaches and cultures have significant differences. It’s important that local offices are empowered to reflect those local differences with flexibility to pinpoint opportunities and execute most effectively. This is something Grosvenor balances well. A one size fits all model won’t work internationally.

I am incredibly grateful that Grosvenor offered me the opportunity to experience an international placement early on in my career. Having worked at Grosvenor for a year and a half, it is fair to say everyone has developed some form of reputation and I felt fortunate to have developed a strong professional network. When making the move abroad, I found myself starting from scratch, and suddenly it was once again all about first impressions and building professional trust and reputation, which at first was daunting, but in the end hugely rewarding.

The experience on the graduate programme has been fantastic and I could never have imagined the breadth of work and responsibility that I would have been given. The experience was all the better as a result of the people, the coffee and the country in general. Thanks Italy!

If you would like to be profiled, or share your own experiences please contact alumni@rref.reading.ac.uk or call 0118 378 4197.

 

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