Partner, New Homes
How many years have you worked at Bidwells?
19 years and 9 months.
When you joined us, what role did you come into?
Planning secretary – working out of our Stonecross office, where a small Planning team of just three planners was based.
What was it that piqued your interest about joining Bidwells?
My first job was away from Cambridge where I worked as branch secretary for an estate agent, but moved back into Cambridge to work for Catlings (now Russells) which was a local independent agent who, at that time, had a few offices in and around Cambridge.
My family has a property background in Cambridge – my Dad being an estate agent – Bidwells has always been known in our family as the estate agent with the best and biggest properties and I had aspirations to be involved with these properties.
Added to this, Bidwells was, and still is, one of those local companies where you want to work – the reputation of being a good, reliable employer. So when the recruitment agency contacted me about a secretarial job at Bidwells, I didn’t hesitate.
Can you talk us through your career at Bidwells – the different positions you held?
I joined in 1996 as planning secretary. There were two other planning secretaries senior to me. We each worked for one planner – responsible for diaries, audio typing, putting together planning applications and so on.
In 2001, I moved to the Residential Development team, in a secretarial role for three surveyors. The Residential Development and Planning teams all then moved to Bidwell House.
The role was ever changing – starting out with the usual secretarial work there was always plenty more to take on if I was willing to do it. The department was growing and taking on the sales of more and more plots in the local market.
Alongside the secretarial work there was booking advertising, collating information packs, speaking with developers/purchasers and the occasional viewings. My sales background was rearing its head, and so in 2004 when an opportunity came up with the New Homes team as an agent, I didn’t hesitate – and I've been here ever since.
What were the turning points in your career, that made you get to where you are now?
Moving across to Residential Development certainly got my interest in the land/development side of things.
If there had been the similar agency type of opportunity with Residential Development, I would have probably applied for that and followed the land side, however the role within new homes was a good mix of all that I had done historically.
It was the ideal mix of dealing with developer clients and selling houses.
Did you have a mentor (official or unofficial) that you can say helped you along the way?
No-one specifically, however there have always been plenty of people to ask who have been very willing to explain the process of whichever team I was in.
Coming across to New Homes was the move from support staff to agency staff and so the practical support from David Bentley, Head of New Homes, and the whole of the residential agents has been essential.
What is the one piece of advice that you were given that has proved invaluable?
You get out, what you put in. Such a cliché, but it really is true. From coming in as a secretary – that job was great, and I enjoyed it all – but having seen what was available to progress to, I wanted to do more and to do that there was a lot of extra responsibility to take on alongside continuing with the job that I was there to do.
Have you had to complete any qualifications along the way?
No, as an 'Estate Agent' there is nothing that we are required to have, such as RICS.
There are qualifications which can be done, however the knowledge comes from experience and knowing the local market/competitors and so on.
What has been your biggest achievement, or your greatest moment, during your time at Bidwells?
Getting to Divisional Partner is certainly high up on the list. However, selling my first £1m+ property was also quite memorable.
What do you wish you could tell your younger self now?
I wish I'd known more about what professional opportunities were available, especially in property, as it's clear that being involved in property was where I was meant to be.
I really enjoyed working in the Planning team, so maybe had I known from leaving school that there was a career in planning I may have followed that professional path. It was fortunate that I did talk my way into that first job at Bidwells.
Had I stayed within a smaller, local estate agent, I wouldn't have gained the experience that comes with working in a multi-disciplined company and definitely wouldn’t have had the opportunity to create a new career path.
What's next for you?
The New Homes team is expanding across the region, so to support David and the growing teams is very exciting.
Being involved with the sale of the units at the North-West Cambridge development is our next strategic site to come into the market. This is a landmark scheme with the University of Cambridge being involved, so having my input on that will be great.
There’s always more to learn, and broaden our depth of experience and with each of the new schemes coming forward we always find a new challenge.
Ultimately though, my aim is to continue to show to our current and new clients that Bidwells New Homes, as part of Residential, are the best and most knowledgeable team in the Cambridge area. I don’t see myself moving to another department though.