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Black Women in Real Estate: How highlighting success can improve diversity and inclusion

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In discussing diversity and inclusion in the built environment, we often hear about the challenges faced by minority groups in the sector. However, it is also imperative that we diversify the narrative to include exemplary stories of empowerment.

The story of Black Women in Real Estate (BWRE) is a testament to the remarkable power of female connection and empowerment in an industry that has long been dominated by men. BWRE is an organisation founded in 2019 by Hanna Afolabi, managing director of Mood and Space, to address the pressing issue of the underrepresentation of Black women in the property sector through a supportive and empowering network.

For many Black women working in the real estate sector, the experience of being the sole representative of their demographic in meetings, teams, or senior positions is all too common. This can be discouraging and challenging to navigate without a supportive network. BWRE steps into this void, offering a much-needed platform that connects and empowers Black women in the property industry, creating a community that fosters their growth and progression.

Sharing success stories

The organisation hosts regular personal and professional development workshops, which are vital for career advancement. In an industry that is predominately white and male-dominated, there is a distinct notion that to be successful, you must mirror that demographic – steering many diverse talents away from pursuing careers in the built environment. BWRE has sought to dispel that narrative by highlighting the success stories of Black women as talented and knowledgeable thought leaders and actively pushing for an increase in Black representation.

Black women face unique challenges when it comes to working in real estate and having a space that creates the opportunity for community, empowerment, and growth enables them to thrive. This benefits our members as it creates avenues for success, however companies also benefit because it supports the retention of diverse talent. When we make success attainable, we can change the landscape of professional life for Black women.” Hanna Afolabi, founder of BWRE, said.

In 2023, BWRE ran the #PhenomenalWomen campaign, sponsored by the RICS, spotlighting the experiences and journeys of five Black female executives in the real estate industry. These powerful and inspiring stories served as a roadmap for aspiring professionals, offering a glimpse into the possibilities of a successful career in real estate for Black women. By shedding light on these stories of triumph, BWRE is not only boosting morale within its community but also attracting and retaining diverse talents in the sector.

We can’t be what we cannot see“, the quote by Marian Wright Edelman, is best exemplified by the English women’s team, the Lionesses, winning the Euro 22 championship. Their football victory has changed the course of an entire industry and sparked increased interest in women’s football, which is exciting for the future of the sport. When more women see relatable examples of success, it gives them hope that they can achieve the same.

Tackling sector underrepresentation

The statistics surrounding diversity in the UK construction sector are stark – with an overall workforce of 1.4 million people, only 1.2% of employees are of Black ethnicity. This number is exceptionally low and gets lower for Black women. This glaring underrepresentation may remain a significant challenge if not intentionally tackled as the property industry heavily relies on existing relationships and immediate networks in attracting and retaining talents, making it harder to recruit people from diverse backgrounds.

Chancerygate Foundation is a charity supporting the work of BWRE and helping to address the problem of the underrepresentation of Black people in the real estate sector by promoting inclusive workplaces and creating more career opportunities for the next generation of property professionals. Since 2020, the Chancerygate Foundation has been offering bursaries, mentorships, internships, and work experience opportunities to students of Black African and Caribbean backgrounds interested in building careers in the property sector.

Crucial responsibility

Real estate industry leaders bear a crucial responsibility in improving diversity. It is not enough to merely advocate for diversity; leaders must actively engage with groups outside their immediate circles to understand and address the root causes of underrepresentation. BWRE’s Bold Space dinners exemplify this approach, bringing industry leaders together with inspiring Black female leaders for personal conversations that humanise the diversity and inclusion agenda.

The story of Black Women in Real Estate is a narrative of resilience, empowerment, and change. BWRE is pushing for the sector to challenge the status quo, break down existing barriers, and build a more inclusive and equitable future for the real estate industry. By joining hands with BWRE, we can collectively drive change, celebrate diversity, and create opportunities for more talented Black women in the built environment.

The BWRE is a non-profit organisation that relies on donations and sponsorships to advance its mission. If you are interested in supporting the transformative work as a member or sponsor, kindly reach out via the website or email: info@bwre.com.

The writer, Hanna Afolabi, is the founder of BWRE, the founder and managing director of Mood and Space, and an advocate for diversity and inclusion in the sector. Follow Mood and Space on Instagram: @moodandspace or connect directly with her via LinkedIn.

Announcing our 2022-23 bursary recipients

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Chancerygate Foundation has announced the cohort of recipients of its bursary programme for the 2022-23 academic year. The four students of African and Caribbean heritage – Paris, Ty, Deyjohn and Shawn – are benefitting from the integrated support to enable them to pursue careers in the property sector through the bursary, mentorship, internship, and work experience opportunities.

We are pleased to welcome Ty, Shawn, Deyjohn and Paris as our new bursary recipients. They are young students interested in pursuing careers in the property sector and we believe the financial support, mentorship and work experience we are providing will accelerate their study and career goals,” said Amanda Walker, director of Chancerygate Foundation. “We are excited to be part of building their real estate careers and cannot wait to see what they achieve.”

Ty, Shawn, Deyjohn and Paris join three other recipients, who have benefitted from the £210,000 fund to support disadvantaged young people of African and Caribbean backgrounds. Since its inception, the bursary programme has supported qualifying students to build careers in the property sector through partnerships with Kingston University, London South Bank University (LSBU) and Loughborough University. Each recipient receives £10,000 per year to support them during their time in university.

Now, meet our four 2022-23 bursary recipients:

Ty

Ty is a first-year student at London South Bank University. Being a student of Caribbean descent living in London, Ty said the bursary has given him a great deal of stability, some degree of freedom and the ability to obtain essential tools for learning. 

I was able to buy a new laptop which I needed to gain access to a software application for my course. Studying has been an amazing and insightful experience, although challenging. I have found great interest in the field of the built environment and I am very grateful that I picked it.

Ty is excited that the foundation is also offering opportunities to build his work experience, partake in on-site trips, and matched him with a mentor who is on hand to assist him. “I am so grateful for this opportunity and would like to thank Chancerygate Foundation for this.

Shawn

Shawn, a first-year student of Loughborough University, is of Zimbabwean heritage. Shawn said the life-changing bursary has eased the burden of having to worry about how he will support himself financially in the university, hence allowing him to focus more on learning. 

I’m really enjoying the course so far and looking forward to learning more about quantity surveying and the built environment as I progress. The foundation has also helped me by providing a mentor, Mark Garrity, who I can reach out to if I have any questions related to my course.”

Deyjohn

For Deyjohn, being a bursary recipient is allowing him to grasp the full university experience without having to juggle work. Deyjohn is of Caribbean heritage and studying real estate management at Kingston University. He said the bursary has afforded him the opportunity to purchase a new laptop, books, take driving lessons and attend property events to further his dream of working in the sector.

“My course is going smoothly, although it’s a little tricky but there’s nothing I can’t do if I put my mind to it. There’s a lot of support as the foundation has helped me through mentoring, building social skills and learning new things about the property industry.”

Paris

Paris, also a first year studying real estate management at Kingston University, is of Nigerian and Saint Lucian heritage. The bursary support has helped Paris to plan her finances properly for the first time, offset four months of bills, and obtain her first laptop to complete assignments on time. She said being a beneficiary has given her a sense of community in knowing that people care about her career progression. 

“If I need support, I know there is a team of experts ready to share their knowledge. I have also met peers in the real estate sector with similar backgrounds to me. As a whole, I am enjoying the course as there is a lot of content to cover, plus academic writing has helped build my reading and writing skills drastically.”

Building an inclusive property sector

Chancerygate Foundation was founded in 2020 to help encourage a more inclusive and diverse real estate sector, where young people of African and Caribbean backgrounds can thrive and succeed. Only 1.6% of the 35,306 Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) members who qualified in 2020 recorded as being of Black ethnicity. The foundation offers bursaries to qualifying students, allowing them to access RICS-accredited courses at higher education institutions to help level the playing field.

For students keen on a career in real estate, check if you are eligible for the Chancerygate Foundation bursary scheme.

Interested in learning more about the foundation or getting involved to empower the next generation, contact the Foundation Director, Amanda Walker at: awalker@chancerygate.com or 07703 344043.

Elizabeth Mulkern joins Chancerygate Foundation’s Board of Trustees to help ‘level the playing field’ in the property industry

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Elizabeth Mulkern has joined the Board of Trustees for Chancerygate Foundation – a national charity dedicated to building the careers of more disadvantaged young people of African and Caribbean heritage in the property sector.

Elizabeth brings to the trustee role a wealth of experience and expertise in social work spanning almost 35 years. Intrigued by the ethos and mission of the foundation, Elizabeth joined four other trustees of Chancerygate Foundation in the summer of last year to strengthen its leadership in addressing the lack of diversity in the property industry.

In 2020, only 1.6% of the over 35,000 members of the UK’s Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), the industry’s qualification and governing body, identified as being Black or from ethnic minority backgrounds.

“I am thrilled to become a Trustee of this trailblazing organisation to help level the playing field in the property industry. With over three decades as a social worker, I have seen first-hand the barriers and discrimination faced by people because of their race, gender, and socio-economic backgrounds,” Elizabeth said. “I hope by being a Trustee, I will contribute meaningfully to supporting disadvantaged young students to reach their full potential.”  

Chancerygate Foundation’s mission is to break the existing barriers faced by young talents from Black African and Caribbean heritage in the property industry and provide career opportunities for their development. The foundation supports disadvantaged young people with interests in pursuing careers in the property sector through bursaries, mentorship, internship, and work experience opportunities.

Amanda Walker, director of Chancerygate Foundation, congratulated Elizabeth on her appointment as a Trustee of the foundation. “I am excited Elizabeth has joined our Trustees as she brings a depth of experience in social work and development that will help shape the delivery of our impact. I believe her input in the foundation’s governance will be immensely valuable to enhancing our objective of supporting many disadvantaged, young people to pursue careers in the property sector.”

Through partnerships with Kingston University, London South Bank University (LSBU) and Loughborough University, seven students have benefitted from the £210,000 fund to support their dreams of building careers in the property sector. Each recipient receives £10,000 per year to support them during their time at university.

As a trustee, Elizabeth will be involved in the process of selecting beneficiaries of the foundation’s programmes, ensuring they meet the set criteria and building stronger relationships with the young people supported by the foundation. 

Elizabeth believes the woefully disproportionate representation of Black people in the sector is mainly because of limited exposure to property-related careers and not having the connections or support system to help them chart these career paths.

“The opportunity to access the property industry is sometimes extremely limited for young people from minority backgrounds, although they have just as much drive and ambition as their more connected peers. Chancerygate Foundation is addressing these discrepancies through the charity’s programmes,” Elizabeth said.

Elizabeth hopes the property industry will support more diverse young people to jumpstart careers and reach their full potential in the sector, as it can generate a ripple effect.

“It is important that young Black people are not discouraged by an environment that may at times feel alien to them. With the financial support and career exposure the foundation provides, we are empowering them to mentor and encourage other disadvantaged young talents to take careers in the property industry to bring change.”

Elizabeth graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Applied Social Studies and Social Work and later attained a qualification in Best Interests Assessment at a master’s level.

Read about our work at Chancerygate Foundation here.

Time for Change: Creating career pathways for young Black African and Caribbean talents in the real estate industry

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The property sector shapes our environment and life experiences – where we live, work and play. However, as the world becomes increasingly diverse, the property and real estate sector remains one of the industries that is struggling to attract more people from a wider variety of ethnic backgrounds to reflect the changing global demographic in its workforce.

Historically, the property industry has seen low levels of representation of Black professionals over the years. In 2020, only 1.6% of the over 35,000 members of Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) in the UK identified as being Black or from ethnic minority backgrounds. RICS promotes and enforces the highest professional qualifications and standards in the property industry.

As the world celebrates Black History Month on the theme ‘Time for Change: Action Not Words’, Chancerygate Foundation is shining a spotlight on the institutional problem and highlighting actions that can help to collectively bring change. Since its launch in 2020, Chancerygate Foundation has helped to encourage and jumpstart the careers of young talents from Black African and Caribbean heritage in the property industry. The foundation supports disadvantaged Black young people with an interest in pursuing careers in the property sector with bursaries and opportunities for mentorship, internship, and work experience.

Through partnerships with Kingston University, London South Bank University (LSBU) and now Loughborough University, seven students from Black African and Caribbean heritage have benefitted from the £210,000 fund to support their dreams of building careers in the property sector. Each recipient receives £10,000 per year to support their living expenses.

Life changing experience

One of the Chancerygate bursary beneficiaries, Tyreece Philips, a Building Surveying student at LSBU who grew up with his Black Caribbean family in Wolverhampton, believes the access to financial and career support has been life-changing. “Receiving this bursary has made my university experience the best possible it could have been and enabled me to access things that will contribute to my studies,” Tyreece said. “I plan to use this support to my advantage and become a successful chartered surveyor and other future aspirations to get involved in other specifics of the built environment.”

Laying the foundations

Beyond the bursary, Chancerygate Foundation provides mentorship, internship and work experience opportunities to young Black African and Caribbean students to expose them to careers in the industry and help with their professional development. Young people are given the professional experience, guidance, and motivation to sustain their interest and hopes in charting a career in the industry. Chancerygate Foundation is also in partnership with 10,000 Black Interns, an organisation that seeks to help young Black people to secure internships across different sectors and business functions.

Chancerygate Foundation director, Amanda Walker, believes these “bold actions are not only helping to dismantle systemic barriers faced by people of colour in the sector but also laying the foundations to create a diverse and inclusive career workforce that benefits more minority families and communities as well as the nation.”

Setting up to succeed

Kemi Omoyele, a second-year building survey student of Nigerian heritage at Kingston University, is a recipient of the Chancerygate Foundation bursary. Kemi said her first exposure to the real estate sector was through her grandfather, a property developer. Her interest peaked after an apprenticeship with an estate agent, and she began looking into opportunities to pursue her education and career as a building surveyor. “I feel like this bursary is setting me up to succeed. I don’t have to worry about putting so much time into working and rather focus on my course 100 per cent.”

As the first in her family with a chance to graduate from the university, she is determined to achieve the highest accreditation possible in her field. “The mentoring support is going to be hugely valuable while the work experience will help me grow professionally and give me an edge once I graduate,” Kemi added.

Small actions drive big change

Chairman of the Chancerygate Foundation, Andrew Johnson, believes the huge ethnic disparity in the workforce of the property industry demands collective action. “We must all be catalysts for change in addressing this challenge through small actions that drive big change. Let’s make it our goal to raise the level of Black African and Caribbean representation by attracting and retaining more young students and graduates into the sector as we are all accountable for building a more inclusive and diverse industry that benefits more people.”

Black History Month is the time of the year to not only celebrate and recognise the achievements and contributions of Black people across the industry but also a moment to recalibrate our efforts and increase our pace to break down all barriers that are hampering Black people from pursuing career paths and progressing in the workplace. 

Here are some actions businesses can take to attract, retain and shore up the inclusion of young talents from Black African and Caribbean backgrounds:

  • Expose more younger students in high schools and colleges to careers in the industry through fairs, conferences, and talks
  • Provide more targeted internship opportunities
  • Run mentorship and training programmes targeted at young talents from diverse backgrounds
  • Recruit talents and encourage their progression through the profession

Take action today to build a property industry which is supportive of more Black African and Caribbean talents to thrive. It is time for change!

Read about our work at Chancerygate Foundation here or contact the Foundation director, Amanda Walker: awalker@chancerygate.com or 07703 344043.

Meet our bursary recipients for 2021-22

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Three young bursary students of black African and Caribbean heritage in the Chancerygate office

Over the past year the Chancerygate Foundation has been set up and gained charity status. With the launch of the website, and in collaboration with London South Bank University and Kingston University, three students were selected to be our first recipients for bursary support for their time at university.

We set up the Chancerygate Foundation to help break down the barriers facing those from African and Caribbean heritage backgrounds get into the real estate industry. We not only give our students bursaries to help with their everyday costs of being at university but also support them through mentorships and work experience – giving them an unbeatable introduction to the industry and all the support they need to turn it into a career.

In March we met up with the students, they had their professional headshots taken, visited the London Chancerygate office, met their new mentors, Matthew StorrGeorge Dickens and James Tinkler and we caught up over lunch on how their courses are going.

Here is a snippet from each of our current students about how the Chancerygate Foundation has helped them so far.

Kemi Omoyele, student at Kingston University

“My name is Kemi Omoyele. I am of Nigerian heritage and have been given the opportunity of being financially supported by Chancerygate Foundation. I am so thankful.
I feel like it’s really setting me up to succeed. I’ve got the chance to be the first one in my family to graduate from university, and I know my mum will be so proud of me; she is always wanting me to push myself and wants opportunities for me that she didn’t get.”

Mohamed Warsame, student at London South Bank University
“The Chancerygate Foundation gives a helping hand to support students from African or Caribbean backgrounds and provides us with a platform to build and pursue long term careers within the real estate industry. This allows me to focus and dedicate my time solely for study and not be diverted by work and thinking of how can I pay for my livelihood. It also keeps my parents at rest knowing that I am supported and relieving them of any financial burdens.”

Tyreece Phillips, student at London South Bank University
“My name is Tyreece, I grew up in Wolverhampton and come from a black Caribbean family. I have had the pleasure to receive support from the Chancerygate Foundation both academically and financially. In the environment I was surrounded in, it gave me the feeling that there were fewer ways to thrive and succeed. This is the reason I decided to focus on improving my life and acquiring a career so that my family has somebody to look up to and be a role model to my younger brother. I would like to say thank you, to all parties involved for this life changing opportunity, I’m going to the make the most of it and ensure efforts are reflected academically on my journey to become a building surveyor.”

The application process will start again later this year and we are certain we will find three more students eager to study for a career in the property sector. If you would like to apply, please click here.

Summer work experience | Zarah & Kevon

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The Chancerygate Foundation was established to support and advance opportunities in the property sector for young people from ethnic minorities. One of the ways we do this is through education, by meeting students from schools and colleges to show them the real face of the property industry, and the breadth of careers available.

This Summer we had Zarah & Kervon from King Solomon Academy join us for two days of work experience to learn more about the property industry and career paths available. Day one consisted of a construction site visit and a day out in the field. Day two was spent in the Chancerygate London office, learning about the various different roles in the business.

Here’s what Zarah had to say about her experience:

“During my experience with Chancerygate I encountered a whole new side to a private construction firm which portrayed a family ambience. My highlight was seeing the construction site in Sidcup and exploring how Chancerygate as a company are working to be more sustainable. I also loved learning about the different roles in the offices which was extremely helpful as I learnt about a range of career choices as I go into my final year of school.”

Kevon said:

“The experience I had at Chancerygate was really hands on and ensured that you learn and understand how the roles presented to you are carried out. Amanda who is part of the CSR team showed us areas of interest and things that would help us choose a career path. We learnt about project management from Matt, development management from Tom, and asset management from George, all of which helped me to expand my knowledge and opened my eyes to the breadth of opportunities available.” 

Why I’m talking to property people about race

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By Eddie Cook, Trustee, the Chancerygate Foundation

In the last few weeks, high profile sporting events have brought into much sharper and more uncomfortable focus what it means to be Black and British. And while many of the behaviours we’ve seen in the mainstream media are at the extreme, they point to an important truth: there are very few, if any, places in our business culture where equality truly exists and diversity thrives.

Clearly, the property sector is no exception. In fact, it is less diverse than the House of Commons. According to the RICS last year, the unacceptable truth is that only 1.6% of RICS professionals in the UK are from Black or minority ethnic (BME) backgrounds.

The Chancerygate Foundation was formed at the end of 2020 to play a part in changing this landscape. A not-for-profit charity, we focus on helping young people from BME backgrounds to forge a career in the property sector.

It came as part of Chancerygate’s 25th anniversary celebrations as a result of a long-held view from the company’s Chairman, Andrew Johnson, and his wife Vanzel, and is based on the idea that the best way to increase diversity is through education.

“We started the Foundation with a very clear goal,” he said, “To help as many Black and minority ethnic students as possible to embark on careers in property.

“One of the most challenging barriers faced by Black and minority students leaving university is to find a job. The Chancerygate Foundation helps those students throughout their university experience and mentor them as they take the first steps on the road to a property career.”

Part of its objective is to provide university grants for RICS-accredited courses up to £10,000 to successful applicants; help secure work experience and internships; and offer support and advice about working within the property sector. It has formed alliances with London South Bank University and Kingston University where it will support students studying RICS-accredited courses.

With these bursaries, the aim is to offer more than just money. It’s important, of course, but there’s so much more to supporting students than just handing over a cheque. Our goal is to build a long-term relationship with the Foundation students, providing mentoring and ongoing support, and leveraging our network of contacts to give them the best possible chance of finding work when they graduate.

We’ve just made our first intern appointment too. Andreas Odysseos will join Montagu Evans at the start of September spending time in its commercial, agency and advisory team as well as its property management team as part of a nine-month placement. He will then spend one month at Chancerygate before completing his BSc in Property Finance & Investment at Nottingham Trent University.

Andreas heard about the Foundation through a press release announcing its formation and through his early initiative he approached the Trustees who felt they could help find him a position for him to gain valuable experience in industry during his sandwich course placement year. He said: “I am extremely grateful for the Trustees help and guidance in finding a placement for me. Having the opportunity to learn and gain a working experience with Montagu Evans is something I am really excited about and I look forward to joining the team in September.”

Victoria Thompson, HR Director at Montagu Evans, explains more about what it means to their partnership: “Working with the Chancerygate Foundation is a practical way to make a difference at an individual level.

“It’s not just that the real estate sector needs to better embrace and reflect the society we are here to support. The last year has been incredibly tough on all young people studying and starting out on their careers. They will be having a very different experience to what most of us remember, and with working life beginning to return to normality we’re in a position to make their professional journeys easier.”

Ultimately, a more diverse profession is a more dynamic profession. I believe that greater diversity opens businesses up to new ideas and fresh perspectives. It stops everything being so one-dimensional.

As Trustees, we’re already looking at what else we can do to help students, including after they’ve graduated. Introductions, connections, internships and work placements are already in place for most businesses in our sector. Let’s use them better and create more opportunities for the talented future workforce we know is out there.

We’re not going to fix this issue overnight, but we have to start somewhere. My hope is that over time we’ll build a kind of web of support for greater diversity and inclusion. Our students will hopefully be inspired to go on and give something back themselves, and of course, they’ll provide role models for the next generation.

For more information on the Chancerygate Foundation visit www.chancerygatefoundation.com or contact Foundation Director Amanda Walker.

First intern appointment for Chancerygate Foundation Andreas Odysseos to join Montagu Evans

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The Chancerygate Foundation, a newly-formed not-for-profit charity focussed on helping young people from black and minority ethnic backgrounds to forge a career in the property sector, has placed its first intern with an external organisation.

Andreas Odysseos will join Montagu Evans at the start of September spending time in its commercial, agency and advisory team as well as its property management team as part of a nine-month placement. He will then spend one month at leading industrial developer and asset manager, Chancerygate before completing his BSc in Property Finance & Investment at Nottingham Trent University.

The Chancerygate Foundation was set up in late 2020 as part of Chancerygate’s 25th anniversary celebrations. Part of its objectives is to provide university grants for RICS-accredited courses up to £10,000 to successful applicants; help secure work experience and internships; and offer support and advice about working within the property sector. In addition to this intern appointment, the Foundation has formed an alliance with London South Bank University and Kingston University where it will support students studying RICS-accredited courses.

Andreas heard about the Foundation through a press release announcing its formation and through his early initiative he approached the Trustees who felt they could help find him a position for him to gain valuable experience in industry during his sandwich course placement year. He said: “I am extremely grateful for the Trustees help and guidance in finding a placement for me. Having the opportunity to learn and gain a working experience with Montagu Evans is something I am really excited about and I look forward to joining the team in September”.

Victoria Thompson, HR Director at Montagu Evans, added: “Working with the Chancerygate Foundation is a practical way to make a difference at an individual level and something we are keen to be involved in.

“It’s not just that the real estate sector needs to better embrace and reflect the society we are here to support. The last year has been incredibly tough on young people studying and starting out on their careers. They will be having a very different experience to what most of us remember, and with working life beginning to return to normality we’re in a position to make their professional journeys easier. Andreas has already proved through the interview process that he will be an asset to our partnership and we’re looking forward to seeing him in September.”

Eddie Cook, a Trustee at Chancerygate Foundation commented: “Whilst the Foundation has helped provide work experience for other students through its association with Chancerygate as a business, Andreas is the first we have helped to secure a position with an external organisation. From his attitude and initiative shown to date, I have no doubt Andreas will have a great career in property. I am extremely grateful to Montagu Evans for providing such an excellent opportunity for this young man. We now need more employers across the sector who would be willing to offer placements to other students and would encourage people to get in touch to find out more.”

New £180k bursary will support more black and minority ethnic students at LSBU to work in UK property industry

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Chancerygate Foundation have announced a new £180,000 bursary programme to enable more black and minority ethnic students to study at London South Bank University (LSBU) and build careers in the property industry.

The £180,000 bursary programme will support students who are black and minority ethnic to study RICS-accredited chartered surveying courses at LSBU over their three year course from October 2021. The programme will support 6 students with £10,000 a year for their living expenses in LSBU courses which lead to Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) accreditation. The programme supports LSBU’s work with the Bridge Group on increasing diversity in the UK’s property industry.

Only 1.6% of RICS professionals in the UK are from black or ethnic minority backgrounds (RICS 2020).

The not-for-profit Chancerygate Foundation was established in 2020 to create an inclusive and diverse UK real estate sector where people from disadvantaged black and minority ethnic backgrounds can succeed. The Chancerygate Foundation offers bursaries to qualifying students, allowing them to access RICS-accredited courses.

Amanda Walker, a Director of the Chancerygate Foundation, said,

“It might seem hard to believe, but the real estate sector is actually less diverse than the House of Commons. There’s a report recently published by the Bridge Group that makes for sobering reading. The perception is that real estate is a world where it’s still very much about who you know, and the evidence backs that up. That’s exactly what we are hoping to tackle through the work of the Chancerygate Foundation. We want to inspire people from black and minority ethnic backgrounds who would not have considered a career in this sector – and to encourage them to believe that it’s possible.”

Professor George Ofori, Dean of The Built Environment and Architecture school at LSBU, said:

“The £180,000 bursary from Chancerygate Foundation will make a huge difference, supporting more black and minority ethnic students to study at LSBU and gain the qualifications they need to work in chartered surveying roles in the property industry. This incredibly kind donation by Chancerygate Foundation will support LSBU’s ‘No Barriers to Brilliance programme’ which is widening opportunities for our students and will increase diversity in the UK’s property industry.”

Eddie Cook, Chancerygate Foundation, Trustee

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Eddie Cook (BSc Building Surveying, 1986) is a trustee of the Chancerygate Foundation, which is supporting two new bursaries for students from black and minority ethnic backgrounds applying to our Building Surveying and Quantity Surveying BSc courses.

I always wanted to be a surveyor – I guess that’s quite unusual as childhood ambitions go! I had a cousin who was a chartered surveyor and he was probably the most successful person in our family. I really looked up to him. Plus I always had an interest in building things and putting things together. It was a pretty obvious path for me to take.

Looking back, I definitely gained my qualifications the hard way. When I left school in 1977, I initially went into banking. There was a downturn, and opportunities in the property sector were scarce. Then I got the chance to join the insurance company Liverpool Victoria in 1978, as a trainee surveyor. It meant a huge pay cut – from something like £3,500 a year to £2,000! – but I was doing what I wanted to do. I started studying for the RICS exams via a correspondence course but distance learning didn’t really work for me, so I enrolled at the then South Bank Poly for a part-time degree. That meant commuting one day a week from Essex to Stockwell and working the rest of the time. It was tough – but it meant that all the time I was learning, I was getting experience on the ground too.

Joining Chancerygate was an opportunity to put everything I’d learned into practice in an environment with huge potential for growth. I spent my last five years at Liverpool Victoria working on the fund management side – a significant change of direction for a building surveyor. By the time I moved to Chancerygate at the start of 2001 I had a pretty good understanding of building construction and of how to manage property assets as an investment. Establishing the asset management side really enabled the company to start its growth journey, from a small team working in the Park Royal area to what it is today – one of the UK’s biggest multi-unit industrial property developers and asset managers.

By 2016, I was at a crossroads. The 2008 global financial crisis had a huge impact on the business. When I took over as MD in 2010, my priority was to help turn Chancerygate into a less leveraged business and make the company more resilient. We succeeded in doing that and putting in place a new business plan. I realised it needed five or ten more years of my time and I didn’t have that to give. The business also deserved someone new at the helm, with fresh energy and ideas to take it forward. I stayed on for a year to help find my successor, before retiring at the end of 2017.

Now it’s time for me to give something back. It’s something I’ve done throughout my career, through mentoring and finding placements for young people. Personally, I’ve always found that very rewarding and it’s nice now to be able to devote a bit more time and energy to it as a trustee of the Chancerygate Foundation, alongside my consultancy work.

A more diverse profession is a more dynamic profession. It’s fair to say the property sector is pretty much dominated by white middle-class males, and there’s a lot of nepotism too. I believe that greater diversity opens businesses up to new ideas and fresh perspectives. It stops everything being so one-dimensional.

There is much more to the bursaries we’re offering than just financial support. As trustees, we’re already looking at what else we can do to help students, including after they’ve graduated. After such a long time in the industry, I’ve got a pretty good network of contacts. Now I’m leveraging that to try to find opportunities for work experience and internships – things that will make our students’ CVs stand out when they’re applying for jobs. That’s such an important part of what we do, along with going out and talking to pupils and students in schools, colleges and universities about the sector. I want more people to know what a great, rewarding and enjoyable career this can be.

This is just the start of the journey. We’re not going to fix this issue overnight, but you have to start somewhere. My hope is that over time we’ll build a kind of web of support for greater diversity and inclusion. Our students will hopefully be inspired to go on and give something back themselves, and of course, they’ll provide role models for the next generation.

Find out more about the Chancerygate bursary.