In her shoes | Clare Williams | Manager in Real Estate Consulting at Deloitte

clare williams

Clare is a Manager in Deloitte’s Real Estate Consulting group in London, providing strategic property advice to major private and public sector organisations. Clare’s experience includes corporate and asset-related projects from distress and financial restructuring and independent business reviews to analysing clients’ strategic estate objectives and business cases. Clare is a Chartered Surveyor (MRICS) and graduated from King’s College London in 2008.

Tell us a little bit about a day in the life of a Manager in Deloitte?

I work in Deloitte’s Real Estate Consulting group. I usually work on one project at a time, for either Financial Services or Public Sector clients, but each project tends to vary in length – from six weeks to over a year. I am currently working for a large central government department on a major transformation of its real estate and infrastructure function. My role on this project has predominantly been supporting the client in engaging with industry and driving forward its procurement of a strategic partner. This has involved preparing market facing documents, information documents for key cross-government stakeholders and overall project management to ensure key targets are met. As well as client-facing work, I spend my time on business development working with directors and Partners in my team to identify new clients and opportunities for providing property owners, occupiers, investors and lenders advice on complex and commercially sensitive property-related business issues.

What did you study or what experience did you obtain in order to get in to your current role?

Having grown up and lived in five different countries, I have always had a keen interest in cities and urban landscapes.

I took this interest to university, where I studied Geography at King’s College London, focussing on human geography modules. During my second year, I began to consider what I wanted to do when my course finished, and in keeping with my interest in urban landscapes I applied for summer internships at property companies. I completed eight weeks work experience at Drivers Jonas LLP working in their central London development team. I then applied and was accepted onto their graduate scheme. As I did not have a property-related degree, I was sponsored to complete a Masters in Estate Management which I undertook part-time over two years. At the same time as working at Drivers Jonas and studying for my Masters, I was also working towards my professional qualification – to become a chartered surveyor and member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors. During this time, Drivers Jonas merged with Deloitte. Following completion of my Masters and passing my professional examination, I joined Deloitte’s Real Estate Consulting team – where I have been for over two years.

What do you enjoy most about your role?

The variety of projects and clients I work with, and the high level of client exposure I have, is what I enjoy the most about my role. Every project I have worked on has been different and challenging in new ways, whilst maintaining a core link to a business’s real estate. I have worked on distressed projects, for example I was part of the team providing strategic advice on the disposal of assets of two insolvent companies. On a regular basis I engaged with senior members of the Bank and the appointed Directors. I have also worked with a consortium of UK property lenders, where I helped deliver a detailed business review in relation to a major UK house builder, contractor and developer. My role involved reviewing the development division, including appraisal of the current business strategy, disposal assumptions, market conditions, as well as considering sensitivities to management forecasts on behalf of the group’s lenders. Both these examples are quite different to the major public sector transformation project on which I am currently working on.

Can you tell us a little bit about what is great about working at Deloitte?

From the outset it is clear that Deloitte is a company that really invests in its people.

This has been particularly apparent to me through the wide range of courses that are available, tailored to your grade and/or area of work (i.e. real estate). Linked to this are the opportunities for career progression – there is a variety of initiatives across Deloitte that you can get involved in to help achieve your goals. This includes industry-led initiatives, for example the launch of Deloitte Real Estate. The firm also has diversity networks, which includes the women’s network or it is possible to join one of Deloitte’s sports teams; or community investment programmes. It was through the community investment programme that I mentored a sixth form student through her last year of college. The Deloitte brand is also very strong, which means I have the opportunity to work with high profile clients and projects.

Do you network either internal or externally?

As Deloitte is such a large company, operating in many different industries and offering a wide range of services to clients, there are often opportunities to network both internally and externally. Internal networking can be within each service line, for example meeting Deloitte colleagues in Corporate Finance who work for similar clients or in a particular industry – generating a better understanding of the services we offer to clients in a particular industry. External networking includes industry focussed forums such as the RE@L Network, where junior members from real estate teams in banks, pension funds, law firms, real estate companies, can network and build relationships with their peers in the professional community. I also use attending CPD seminars/lectures as an opportunity to meet and catch up with my real estate peers.

Tell us about your own career aspirations?

I was recently promoted and I am now focussing on what I need to achieve and demonstrate for promotion to the next level. I enjoy working in the real estate industry, and hope to continue to do so. With the variety of work my team gets involved in, I am in a fortunate position where I can experience different project types and clients before I have to choose what path to focus on.

I work in a team with some great role models, from whom I have already learned a lot. My overall approach at work is to observe and reflect on those whom I really value as role models, and understand what it is that makes them a role model, then applying those qualities to my work.

What advice would you give to someone wanting a career in your profession?

A career in real estate comes in lots of different shapes and sizes; I started as a graduate doing traditional property services (such as valuation, development advice etc.) and now provide strategic advice to clients under more of a “consulting” banner. The team I work in contains quantity surveyors, engineers, accountants as well as commercial chartered surveyors, demonstrating the number of routes people have taken to end up working in Real Estate Consulting. I think work experience/internships offer great opportunities to try a profession, and I would recommend applying for these wherever possible. The same job can be quite different in two companies, so work experience helps you discover what type of company you want to work for as well the profession.

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