Ricky Poonia, group director and head of real estate at The Blackmore Group discusses his ambitions to shake off the old-fashioned perceptions of finance and property institutions.
I am very lucky that I can genuinely say that I love my job and I know my colleagues feel the same, but I am all too conscious of the reputation that the property and finance sectors have as employers. In the past year alone, we have witnessed the President’s Club scandal, had the true extent of the gender pay gap revealed and seen the high-profile collapse of one of the largest construction companies in the country.
Having worked in these sectors in capital markets and investments for more than a decade, I am hugely passionate about shaking off the ‘old school’ way of doing business and encouraging a more collaborative, flexible and diverse approach to building relationships and brokering deals. Not least because research shows that almost three quarters of business leaders believe their organisation would be more successful if employees were able to work in more flexible and collaborative ways.
In my experience, working in an organisation with a flat structure with no ‘airs and graces’ has paid dividends in terms of team productivity, results and building strong partner relationships. Encouraging this culture can really set a business apart from the old, financial elite and this has been hugely beneficial to us at The Blackmore Group. We are proud to have grown quickly over the past five years to become a significant player in the market and to have retained a ‘start-up’ mentality, something I am passionate about maintaining as part of the fibre of our organisation.
Having a culture of honesty and integrity is also hugely important. It is amazing how many businesses inadvertently take away employees’ power to make their own decisions, do not have open lines of communication and foster a culture of distrust. Ultimately, these are the businesses that fail to diversify and grow and the ones that lose the brightest team members.
People love working with people they get along with. It sounds obvious but fostering an open culture, in my experience, always leads to stronger working relationships, more innovation and more lucrative partnerships. I would love to see the property and finance sectors leading the way as job creators and responding to new, agile and flexible ways of working with greater diversity in our workforce.
I am not a fan of buzzwords and I keep hearing about ‘collaboration’, but in my opinion, working collaboratively has been key for the success of our business. Our joint venture partners consistently tell us they love working with us because of who we are and our ability to be fleet of foot in the way we structure deals and respond to the market.
I’m proud to work within an organisation that has a noticeably different culture to other big financial and real estate players. Not only is this great for finding and retaining the best talent, our customers and investment partners tell us this is why they love working with us and will continue to do so for the long term.