Lunch & Learn with Nick Cuff

Kindly hosted by JLL, the November 2017 Lunch and Learn provided the UK Young Leaders a chance to sit down with Nick Cuff, Land Director at Pocket Living. Nick started his presentation by giving some insight into his career path before giving a presentation on his current employer, Pocket Living, an innovative property developer, who build affordable housing for Londoners.

Reflecting on his career, Nick identified strategies which have lead him to his position as Land Director at Pocket Living. Rather than rushing up the career ladder, Nick has taken a long-term view, allowing himself time to develop his own unique career path as opportunities arose.

Nick began his career on the graduate scheme at CBRE, during his time at CBRE he was elected as a local representative at Wandsworth Council, where a few years later he was given the opportunity to be Chairman of the Planning Applications Committee. Nick subsequently worked for a variety of companies in different positions, including as Development Manager for Essential Living.

Nick advocates not staying anywhere too long, saying moving jobs provided him with an opportunity to learn new things and look at things from different perspectives. When looking for a new role Nick recommends shopping around for different experiences and the opportunity to do different things. He highlighted the importance of making the effort to improve whether this is gaining professional qualifications or learning new skills.

Nick also reminded us how important it is to treat people with respect and friendliness, and that generalist skills including communication, networking, negotiation and the ability to be flexible should be valued alongside more specialist knowledge.

In his current role Nick is responsible for land acquisitions for Pocket Living. Nick explained that Pocket Living have designed a compact unit type with clever techniques to maximize the space available – including high ceilings, big windows and integrated storage. These units are sold to first time buyers who live or work locally at 20% to the surrounding market rent. Initially targeting smaller infill sites Pocket have moved onto larger schemes with a mix of market and office space to make the developments viable. They are also using modern methods of construction including volumetric modular construction to speed up delivery of their units. Pocket Living have already received loans of £50million from the government to support their development model.

Nick concluded his talk by reflecting on how innovation can help solve the housing crisis, he believes that we need to break the traditional models of supply for more affordable housing solutions for young people. To achieve this, he believes everyone in the supply chain has to want to innovate and that to encourage this we should reward innovation both in the public and private sectors.

The UK ULI Young Leaders would like to thank Nick for participating in the Lunch and Learn series and JLL for hosting.

Words by Caoimhe Loftus, CallisonRTKL

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