In the following monthly series of articles Oliver Ash tells the story of his initial steps in the field of real estate, how this took him overseas to a new life in Paris, how he navigated the financial crises of 1991 and 2009, how real estate operations became stadia consultancy and how stadia consultancy became several sports businesses, leaving real estate behind. The first article describes how he unwittingly found himself in the property world.
When I took my first hesitant step into the world of real estate in 1980 at the age of 21 it felt like the end of my life. Taking a job as an estate agent, even as a stop-gap, was not something I had ever imagined doing. I was convinced nothing good would come of it and my friends would all laugh at me and delete my name from their Filofaxes. After all, weren’t estate agents the most detested professional grouping in the country, along with traffic wardens and tax inspectors? Where had it all gone so wrong that I found myself having to do this ?
Let me put it in context. I had left St Andrews University a few months earlier with different career intentions. I had been living the life of Reilly, savouring a sabbatical year as President of the Students’ Association, chairing the Student Council, sitting on the University Court, mixing it with celebrities like Frank Muir, John Cleese and Tim Brooke-Taylor, playing in a rock band, acting in and directing plays, and of course playing golf.