Here we meet Ripley Mercer, Senior Surveyor in the Welcome Offices property management team, who joined Workman in 2019 as an Assistant Building Manager. Today, she’s part of the team responsible for CBRE IM assets in the commercial and mixed-use sector.
What three words describe Workman’s Welcome team?
Friendly, ambitious, competitive.
What is your career background, and what extra skills and experience from previous roles do you bring to the firm and its clients?
I originally trained as a hairdresser, which was a role I worked in for seven years before moving into the retail beauty industry at Selfridges. My next role was front-of-house in a commercial property. All these roles contributed to a high standard of customer service, and all from different perspectives.
Social skills and being confident interacting with a wide variety of people is key in any property management role, whether presenting a budget proposal, leading a client management meeting, or even chasing arrears. It all comes down to people management and navigating a situation, while assessing the individuals you are dealing with.
My role as a Building Manager within Workman, before coming across to Property Management, has given me a unique insight that most property managers do not have. I can assist building managers on site-based items that other property managers may have limited experience on, and I can bring my FM knowledge into the PM tasks.
What first led you into the property industry?
My sales and make-up artist role in Selfridges did not suit me, so when I was approached by an old hairdressing client and offered a front-of-house role I took it. This led to my exposure to a more corporate environment, dealing with occupiers, landlords and contractors directly.
During this role, I was recruited by CBRE managing agents to become the facilities coordinator in the same building, which then led me to apply for the role with Workman.
Tell us about your role at Workman, and why it’s important to the firm and its clients?
My role is important because it’s the bridge between not just occupiers and the client, but also the FM site teams and the wider firm, because building managers do not interact as much with head office staff. Property managers act as the liaison for all parties and communicate constantly, managing everyone’s expectations and resolving problems.
How are you putting your skills to their best use within the Welcome team at Workman?
My main involvement is with two properties which are both home to anchor corporate occupiers who have very exacting standards. I base myself at each site once a week to have time in person with the site teams, to support them and ensure I am a visible presence at regular occupier meetings. This has helped build the trust and relationship, even when difficult times roll around, and the site team feel that they can depend on me to help.
How do you hope to develop your role in the coming months and years?
Although I am going on maternity leave in 2024 with my second child, I am hoping that on returning I can continue to work on high-end commercial properties plus become even more involved in the Welcome team.
What has been your standout moment at Workman so far?
Making the move from the Workman Facilities Management side of the company to Workman LLP. It was a huge achievement to not only return from maternity leave, but to do so with a promotion of that kind.
What change would you make to the wider property sector? And why?
To implement mandatory job swaps for one week in each sector of the property management firm. This would help all of us to understand the pressures and difficulties another sector of the business goes through, and potentially prevent issues arising in the future if we all understood each other’s job roles more.
What are your spare time pursuits and how do they feed into your role at Workman?
Outside of work I am very busy being a mum, so currently I don’t get much time to do anything else. I would love to get back into fitness and frequent gym visits, which is my goal in 2024 after my second baby is born.
Being a mum has definitely made me even more driven and focused. I want to be a good role model for my daughter, which reflects in the standard I hold myself accountable to at work.
What is your favourite building worldwide, and why?
One of my favourite buildings I’ve visited in person is an Icelandic cathedral called Hallgrimskirkja. I went on a trip with friends, but chose to visit this cathedral solo, and it was breath-taking. The architecture is so unusual, being based on a volcanic eruption, and is such an incredible landmark, set in the middle of a very different landscape to the UK.
What three dinner party guests would you choose and why?
Frank Sinatra – he’s my grandad’s favourite so I would love to talk to him about the Rat Pack days and find out what life was really like for him then.
Roald Dahl – I adored his books growing up, and still to this day. I think he’s a genius so I’d be intrigued to hear about where his creativity and stories came from.