Donor Involvement with RREF

PAllenBeyond the financial support RREF's many donors, supporters and patrons also provide their time, knowledge and expertise to benefit RREF. This month Ben Herbert discussed his involvement with Paddy Allen.

By Ben Herbert, Development Officer, RREF

Paddy Allen graduated from the University of Reading’s School of Real Estate & Planning in 2005. In the 10 years since, he has gone on to have a real impact on both the real estate industry and the activities of RREF. As a RREF Friend Paddy contributes to the RREF Annual Fund, and we caught up with him to discuss why he chooses to support current and future Real Estate & Planning students at Henley.

“Now more than ever the cost of being a student can be prohibitive for many” says Paddy. “Therefore, by supporting RREF’s work, it is my hope that current and future students will have opportunities to further their education and gain the experience I was lucky enough to be exposed to”.

As a Pathways to Property Board Member Paddy supports RREF in widening participation in the industry. Reflecting on his route to Reading it is clear that issues in attracting new people into the industry still exist today.

“I had no experience of real estate before coming to Reading. I knew I wanted to work in business, but I wanted to study something more focused than business studies, and I wasn’t really attracted to being an accountant, which were pretty much the only options the career advisor at school gave me. I was lucky enough to have a great geography teacher who knew me well and pointed me in the direction of real estate and Reading. The rest is really history!”

That conversation with his Geography teacher has seen Paddy embark on a journey from BNP Paribas Real Estate on graduating, to Head of Capital Relationships at Global Student Accommodation Group. With no background in real estate, Paddy is a case in point in the need to diversify the profession, and he argues “The future of the built environment relies on inputs from people of all backgrounds. I believe that in order to create the best and most innovative built environments, we need to harness ideas and energy from all corners of society. The property industry should be about innovation, passion and ultimately people, therefore it’s important that we reach out to all backgrounds”.

Innovation has been integral in Paddy’s professional journey as he co-founded both AllenWargent in 2012 and Splittable in 2013, where he continues to act as an advisor. These ventures have been aided by RREF’s alumni events programme, something Paddy was involved in during his time on the RREF Events Committee, and the benefits have been two-way: “RREF events are incredibly useful from an academic and networking perspective, allowing attendees to have a view into other parts of the industry that they are not necessarily working in on a day-to-day basis, as well as providing an opportunity to meet key influencers across the industry. At RREF events I have met both future employers and people who have introduced me to future clients, so that has been highly valuable.”

These experiences help Paddy when acting as a RREF mentor for current students, something he clearly relishes. “As a mentor I always try to listen to the mentees and ask as many questions as possible, whilst encouraging them to do the same. I often tell mentees not to be afraid to ask me anything, whether it’s to review their CV or what APC stands for! I remember being in exactly the same position and would have relished having a mentor to ask all the silly little questions!

Calling on other alumni to join him in giving back their time as a mentor Paddy gives his top piece of advice. “I try to set milestones for the mentees, so there is a sense of working towards tangible goals; however I have to say, I’ve been lucky to have some mentees who have their milestones already mapped out!”

But why does Paddy support RREF in so many ways? “It’s my way of giving something back in more than a financial sense” he says. “Being involved in various committees over the years has allowed me to apply my industry experience to various initiatives that continue to move RREF forward. It’s also a tangible on-going connection to the University of Reading and other alumni”.

So if asked by another alumnus why they should support RREF, what would Paddy tell them?

“I’d probably chew their ear off about all the above. But in all seriousness, I’d tell them that it’s a great cause that not only benefits current and future students at Reading, it can also continue to benefit them, whatever stage they are at in their career, through the educational and networking events on offer”.

If you would like to learn more about supporting RREF and would like further information please contact us at  


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