Last week the ULI (UK) kicked off the new decade with the popular Winter Drinks at Jacob’s offices overlooking the Thames and to mark the launch of the 2020 mentorship programme. The Mentorship programme pairs Young Leaders with senior people in the real estate industry to share knowledge and provide a forum for career guidance.
The evening was framed by an inspiring discussion between John Barakat, head of real estate finance at M&G Investments and Maurice Owens, a former White House staff member and advisor to the board at Libra Group. Both met through a mentorship programme 30 years ago in New York and shared a powerful story of how mentorship continues to shape their lives.
At the time when they met, John was 28 and working on Wall Street while Maurice was a 14-year-old searching for guidance and advice after growing up in the troubled Bronx district in the early 1990s.
Over the last three decades, John has been a constant supporter of his mentee’s career, which has seen Maurice serve in Iraq with the U.S. Air Force and act as an advisor to the White House Chief of Staff under the Obama Administration. During his time at the White House, Maurice went on to lead on Obama’s national mentorship programme for boys and young men of colour, My Brother’s Keeper, which earned him the honour of a mention in the President’s speech in 2016.
Mentorship, said John, was an opportunity to be connected with people and offered him the chance to see things from a different generational perspective, while also being able to pass on advice. For Maurice, the advice that drove him to succeed was to do things that people didn’t expect of him. This passion to achieve more and do better was hugely responsible for his quick career development and led to his own role in becoming a mentor to others through the White House.
Maurice and John’s strong, long-term relationship is inspirational and demonstrates the power of a great mentorship programme. And in an industry where only 1.2 per cent of the built environment’s employees are from a BAME background and 13 per cent are women in the UK – according to RICS research – schemes like these will be crucial in encouraging a more diverse industry.
Thanks go to Chris Choa, Kate Kenny, Vanessa Hale, Alex Jezeph and Anoushka Malde who spoke at the event and to our Young Leaders, Mo O’Connell and Yohance Harper for leading the ULI UK’s Mentor programme.
Words by Sorrel Pompert Robertson, Blackstock Consulting