Prioritising what matters to young professionals in the built environment industry

24 Jun 2021

CPA NextGen Chair Alex Beale outlines the Committee’s priorities for the coming year: 

The City Property Association (CPA) NextGen Committee is here to be the voice of the next generation of leaders in the property sector and help shape the future of the City. As Chair of the Committee, I’m pleased to set out our strategic priorities for the year ahead and the reasons why they’re important for us.

As always, we’re aligned to the wider CPA Priorities 2021 and look to support and build on the great work the Board does by adding our perspectives and challenges.

As a group we have identified three primary areas we will focus on – continuing to become a more inclusive industry that represents the diverse needs of wider society; building an international network to share knowledge and expertise; and proactively addressing environmental and social sustainability.

Fundamentally throughout the coming months we want to support the City’s economic and social recovery from Covid-19, bring vibrancy back to the workplaces and socialising spaces across the Square Mile, and support the next generation of talent joining the industry.

1. Becoming a more inclusive industry

The benefits of diverse teams and workplaces are increasingly being recognised by many organisations. As built environment practitioners, we are responsible for shaping places and spaces that have huge direct and indirect impacts on the lives of those who inhabit them. Therefore, we have a duty to ensure any underrepresented voices are heard. The only way we can achieve this is by creating a more inclusive sector.

We’re intentionally taking action to ensure we continue to build a Committee that is comprised of individuals of varying gender, religion, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, education, social background and other attributes. We’ve asked CPA Board members and partners, such as BAME in Property, to nominate more representative people to join the Committee.

In collaboration with WPA NextGen, under the London Property Alliance umbrella, we’re publishing six themed diversity booklets, informed by private roundtables attended by members, co-opted experts and stakeholders from local government. The guides provide best practice examples, signposts to resources and reflects on personal experiences and are aimed to support members in our shared goals towards achieving a more inclusive industry.

Emily Laverick, CPA NextGen Vice Chair (Built-ID, Marketing Director), has recently lead our collaboration with White Red Architects to highlight the importance of opening up the sector to local communities and the ways that can be achieved. Organisations and individuals across the sector are making a step in the right directon and we’re pleased to be playing our part.

2. Building an international network

Our International Task Force, recently launched in collaboration with the IE School in Madrid, will work to promote the exchange of diverse and international talent across borders. Their impressive network of alumni, academics and students in architecture, real estate and other disciplines, right across Europe will enable us to tap into international colleagues and share experiences and expertise.

We’ve already extended the Task Force into other jurisdictions and cities – across the globe –  to build a strong network of member organisations with aligned goals, build a set of resources and host debates and webinars that enable our members to be more resilient to future disruption.

3. Addressing environmental and social challenges

The impacts of the climate emergency are of growing concern – politically, economically and physically – and generations are increasingly demanding action be taken to address whatever challenges the future may hold. In November 2021 Glasgow will hosted the 26th UN Climate Change Conference with the stated aim of ‘uniting the world to tackle climate change’ and we see that as an opportunity to galvanise meaningful action in our sector.

We’re working on creating a unique agenda of events that promotes previously unheard voices in the profession to address the historical damage caused by our sector, uncover the routes to creating a climate prepared City of London and continuing to be a world leader in sustainable development.

Looking ahead: Enhancing the economic and cultural vibrancy of the City  

NextGen Committee member Bridget Wilken’s (Director – Community Engagement & ESG, Built-ID),  did a fantastic job recently chairing a CPA webinar exploring how stakeholders can create a City that is thriving, vibrant, green, and adaptive to future challenges.

A particular highlight was the discussion around how the rapidly the occupier demographic is evolving. As an industry we need to continue to collaborate with end-users and respond to their expectations for more socially responsible and climate conscious buildings that foster connectivity and community.

During a tough period to be joining the industry over the past few months we’ve hosted a number of virtual networking events, and we plan to continue to host these in person when we can do so safely. As a Committee we want to prioritise helping new joiners to the various professions that make up our membership so that they can build a network of contacts that they can reach out to for the rest of our careers.

In a period of accelerated change and disruption, we’re seizing the opportunity to help shape the agenda and create a better sector and society and I’m proud of the work we’ve done so far as a Committee, but we’ve got a lot more to do.

If you’ve got ideas, viewpoints or perspectives that you’d like to add to the conversation on any of the topics I’ve discussed then please do get in contact and join us at future events, we’d love to hear from you.

Alex Beale, CPA NextGen Chair; Strategy Manager – Landsec