Name: Georgina Grazebrook, Partner
Current role and team: Partner, Property Management Retail and Leisure, Bristol
Joined Workman: 1995 (as a management surveyor)
In what ways did your early years at Workman prepare you for your career in property and your role as a Partner?
One of the benefits of the training and work style was being thrown in at the deep end by my then lead Partner (Paul Hibberd), but always being closely supported. If I made mistakes, I learnt from them, but was never made to feel stupid. This close supervision, combined with a level of autonomy, allowed me to grow, develop and show my potential.
What did your Workman grounding teach you in terms of technical knowledge and softer skills?
Technical knowledge continues to develop, because the firm’s encouragement and support of CPD requirements is commendable, so every day is a school day. Close collaboration with fellow team members is vital to share and develop a knowledge base. We all learn from each other in a supportive environment, so never be too proud to show a lack of knowledge or expertise.
In terms of softer skills, I believe empathy is the most important. We should be aware of other peoples’ needs and requirements. Taking the time to support our fellow work mates both in respect of their work, but also if their home life presents challenges. My first lead Partner at Workman taught me the value of supporting others, his kindness and empathy was inspiring.
Are there any memorable projects or properties you’ve worked on that you now look back on as invaluable experience? If so, why?
Too many to mention! Beechwood Shopping Centre in Cheltenham was a centre that presented many challenges in my early days, but acted as a great springboard to more complex work. I also enjoy setting up new developments, developing service charge budgets and collaborating with developers is also exciting.
It was always an ambition to work for a major retail client; notably Hammerson and their flagship shopping centres such as Bullring in Birmingham. After many years of wooing them, we succeeded. Today, they are one of our key clients and have been for 13 or so years.
I’ve met some fabulous people in my career journey, especially centre management staff who have been a joy to work alongside. The people make the job gratifying and help deal with the not-so-positive!
What single thing did your early years with the firm teach you that’s been most valuable in your career so far?
To lead by example and try and always communicate an air of encouragement and positivity. I don’t always get it right, but it is always something I am mindful of.
In your journey to becoming a Partner at Workman, what have been the most significant or pivotal moments?
Juggling full time work and having a baby was challenging, but I resolved to continue my career path. I was determined to become Senior Associate and when I did, it gave me the appetite to also achieve Partner level. When I first started at Workman, I didn’t even dream this could be possible, but was thrilled that it became a reality. I think becoming an SA was pivotal in spurring me on to further my career path, particularly in what is still considered a male-dominated career.
Now in your role as a Partner, when mentoring younger staff, what do you think are the most important aspects of coaching and developing your team?
To give them the time they need to grow and learn. Always assist them when they ask for help and never ask them to come back later when you are less busy. Younger team members are our future – they deserve respect, encouragement, and support at every step of their career journey.
It is important to foster independence, so when they ask how to solve a problem, ask them to come up with a solution rather than feeding them the answer. Allow them to grow confidence in their own ability.
What advice would you give to our graduates just starting now, in today’s unique (Covid) circumstances?
Collaborate and find your tribe. It’s not easy WFH so try and meet your contemporaries face-to-face when at all possible. Seek out a more senior member who you respect and feel you can create a bond with. It doesn’t have to be someone in your team, but could be someone who has shown you time and respect, albeit briefly. You will be surprised how many people are willing to act as a sounding board to you – they may be very flattered to be asked. Never be too proud to seek out assistance, or feel you may look stupid by asking the same question again. Better to ask, than to make a serious error. Treat others as you would wish to be treated, and never be too proud to apologise.
What attributes do you look for when recruiting graduates and junior staff?
Humility, a sense of humour and someone who is prepared to play a full part as a team player. Someone with the drive and ambition to want to succeed through hard work, not someone who expects to be spoon fed or succeed without merit.