Welcome to a new series of monthly interviews with leading industry figures. We help real estate businesses with their senior recruitment needs, and help individuals advance their careers. As such, we thought it might be fun and interesting to interview a variety of senior people within the sector. We hope you enjoy our monthly piece.
Short bio about Henry, including businesses he has previously worked for…
Henry is responsible for the structuring of the Tritax Group funds, providing general legal counsel and overseeing compliance activities. Henry is a qualified solicitor, who completed his articles with Ashurst LLP in 2001, specialising in taxation, mergers and acquisitions.
He also qualified as a chartered tax adviser in 2004, before moving to Fladgate LLP in 2005, where he became a partner in 2007. At Fladgate LLP, Henry specialised in the structuring of commercial property funds. Henry joined the Tritax Group in 2008 where he has overseen the structuring and implementation of all Tritax funds, portfolio acquisitions and disposals, equity and debt issuance and new business development and compliance.
Q – What was your first job and what is the worst job you’ve ever done?
My first job was at 16 where I worked as a labourer on a building site in London and learnt to carry a hod, stack bricks and go to work after a big night out.
My worst job was being a waiter in Spain. Spanish waiters are excellent and often career waiters. They hated my lack of experience and clumsiness – I spilt moule mariniere down a poor womans’ back one evening.
Q – Was Tax your first career choice and what were you doing before?
Before deciding to train as a solicitor I worked selling plastic flooring across Europe. I soon realised I needed something more than a grasp of languages to make a difference in business. I trained at Ashurst where I worked in various departments and then chose tax partly because I was inspired by the then Head of Department John Watson and partly because it is one of the few areas of law where you can determine how a transaction is done and add real value. That sense of creation appealed to me.
Q – Why did you choose a career in the commercial real estate sector?
I had a lot of real estate clients when I was a partner at Fladgate and I always enjoyed their commerciality and entrepreneurship. There was also a sense of fun and lack of pomposity which appealed.
Q – Why do you enjoy the sector?
The variety of characters you meet on a day to day basis; you meet all sorts in real estate and they add to the enjoyment, many are larger than life and unbelievable. I also enjoy the tangible nature of what we do. It’s very rewarding to see my more abstract thinking on structures or tax realise themselves as physical assets that perform a valued role.
Q – What’s a typical day like?
I try to swim first thing in the morning, the monotony of the lengths and rhythm relaxes me. I tend to process what needs to be done in the day ahead. The beginning of the week invariably involves a lot of meetings, both internal and external: with buyers, sellers, developers, lending banks, investment banks, professional advisers and my other partners and team. We work very collaboratively at Tritax and are very project driven. There are always two or three transactions on the go at any one time and some large crazy project brewing in the corner which needs watching, driving and energy.
Q – Who or what has had the biggest impact on your career?
John Watson at Ashurst taught me how to approach a problem and think laterally and then together with my partners at Tritax, we have learnt resilience and the value of having a good idea and pursuing it relentlessly. TBBR plc has had the biggest impact on my career to date: to have listed a cash box REIT in December 2013 and then raised c £2bn of equity has been a serious learning curve.
Q – What advice would you give to people at different levels on developing their careers?
Don’t be put off by what other people are put off by – it might be a difficult skill but if you can master it and have good inter-personal skills you will have something other people don’t have and that will serve you well.
Q – Who inspires you and why?