Team in focus
Team in Focus | Hollis
In the third of our Team in Focus features, we spoke with Sam Richardson of Preferred Partner Hollis about his role, the culture of the business, and what is around the corner for proptech.
What is your role at Hollis?
I have a dual role at Hollis. My main role is Head of Hollis’ Bid Management team, within our Business Development department. I oversee and get involved in tenders across the public and private sectors, including central and local government, education, healthcare, heritage, office, retail, industrial and residential. More recently, I have also taken on the role of Head of Public Sector, with a focus on developing our expertise and helping public sector clients access our innovative real estate consultancy solutions both directly and through our framework appointments.
What attracted Hollis to join Perfect Circle as a Preferred Partner?
As a business that shares its passion for innovation and drive to generate social value and enhance sustainable outcomes for our clients, partnering with Perfect Circle made perfect sense to us. The opportunity for collaboration with some of the UK's biggest and brightest peer consultancies was too good to pass up – it’s clear that we’re all heavily invested in working together and helping deliver economic recovery, decarbonisation and improvement for the public sector. It’s a big challenge, but that’s what makes it an exciting thing to be a part of.
Tell us more about what Hollis
We’re a leading international, independent real estate consultancy, working with owners, occupiers, developers and funders, across both private and public sectors, to help them get more out of their real estate, at every stage of the property lifecycle.
We are a team of over 500 across the business, operating out of 23 offices across the UK and Europe, and in 17 different market sectors. Our surveyors, engineers, ESG consultants, project and cost managers and technical experts are committed to delivering and maintaining a sustainable built environment. We are recognised specialists in due diligence surveys, dilapidations, measured surveys, project management, cost management, party walls, rights of light, M&E and ESG consultancy.
The other big thing we’re known for is our culture. Our company spirit is unique – open, energetic, ambitious for our clients and ourselves, yet always approachable and a lot of fun. We build partnerships to last, bringing expertise, technology and a pragmatic approach. We’re tenacious, independently minded problem solvers, and we work hard to be at the forefront of innovation, sustainability, diversity and effectiveness in everything we do.
What do you see as the biggest challenge facing your clients in the public sector in the next decade?
A big one that stands out is retrofit; finding the expertise and the capacity to deliver it at the speed and scale that is required to meet NZC - particularly when we look at areas such the social and affordable housing sector alone – it’s a staggering challenge.
Add in current additional pressures like dealing with building safety works, not to mention the impact of Brexit, ongoing geopolitical instability and economic volatility have had on land values, funding, material costs, labour supply – it’s easy to see why some clients are increasingly anxious about the challenges ahead.
But this is where working in partnership with organisations like Perfect Circle pays dividends for clients – working together and tapping into wider expertise is where those challenges are turned into opportunities, finding ways to do things differently, better, more efficiently, driving more legacy social value and ultimately delivering positive solutions.
What specialist skills do you bring to Perfect Circle’s supply chain?
Hollis isn’t just a company about building buildings, we are commercial property surveyors by background. One of the key benefits of partnering with us - and one which we have built our industry reputation over the last 30 years - is the strength and integrated nature of our multi-disciplinary in-house services to provide commercial solutions, grow capabilities and establish new ways of working.
Our joined-up approach is underpinned by the fact that across all our teams - regardless of discipline - surveyors, engineers, ESG specialists, project and cost managers and technical experts have an innate understanding of the property lifecycle, which in turn can add significant value.
We always aim to provide joined up holistic solutions, rather than being service-specific, to really create value. We believe that our ability to support clients aims, and add significant value through strategic partnering is achieved by leveraging the full breadth of our ESG expertise, making sustainability, safety and well being the key consideration through which all other integrated services are delivered – be it project managing new build social housing developments, giving Rights of Light advice on major regeneration plans or helping a university campus with strategic asset management planning. We join the dots across the entire lifecycle.
What do you see as the main benefits of joining Perfect Circle on the SCAPE Consultancy framework?
Being part of the Perfect Circle team delivering allows us to provide agile services to public sector clients while calling on a broad base of the best combined expertise across the country.
This collaborative ethos pays massive benefits, not just for us as a firm but for the public sector as a whole, enabling us all to forge important lasting partnerships that drive efficiency, innovation and legacy value.
What value to do you bring to the local communities in which you work?
Getting involved in positive causes and community-based initiatives has always been a natural part of our culture. As an example, we are proud to have been a LandAid Foundation Partner for 10 years now, and take part in their ambassador’s programme, providing financial support, pro bono advice and continuously raising awareness of the charity.
As a business we’re passionate about investing in our local economies and communities. Looking at our own people, we are a UK living wage employer, and we have many local and national outreach initiatives aimed at supporting new talent, so we form partnerships to improve social mobility.
On the project side, we regularly work with clients to provide employment and training opportunities to local people, including through access to our apprenticeship scheme.
We deliver industry talks and work experience days and placements to local education providers, promote diversity and inclusive pathways to employment, and offer workshops to local SMEs on gaining access to opportunities.
What pathways do you offer for young people entering our industry?
Hollis is committed to developing the property professionals of the future, and currently offers a Level 6 Apprenticeship scheme providing opportunities for young people to work towards a degree in building surveying and membership of the RICS.
Our apprenticeship programme applies to our operational departments, for example within our Bid Management team apprentice Laura Nasrin is currently undertaking a Bid Coordinator apprenticeship aligned with the APMP. Seeing her development has been a highlight of my career; she is smashing the opportunity and a real asset to our team. It really highlights how our holistic approach in developing the industry of the future is, we don’t only focus on the technical roles, but all the support roles our industry needs too. Our apprenticeship programme sits alongside our graduate programme, where we work closely with the top 15 universities for the built environment to recruit new talent.
We are very aware of our social mobility responsibility when it comes to offering pathways to young people entering real estate. We believe the best way to increase diversity and give opportunities to those from less advantaged backgrounds is to partner with leading, industry wide social mobility schemes. Alongside our partnerships with the Urban Plan UK, The Worshipful Company of Chartered Surveyors and The Chartered Surveyors Training Trust, we will also be partnering with Pathways to Property, RICS Inspire Future Surveyors and Building People.
What are the biggest opportunities for growth in our industry in the next decade?
Data is where I believe the biggest growth opportunity lies, and specifically using it more and in better ways. At the moment there is a huge amount of data that can be captured yet we currently use and understand a tiny fraction.
The opportunity for innovation and technology to bridge that gap for the benefit of the sector as a whole is enormous.
Our dedicated innovation team is continually testing the boundaries of what can be captured and achieved, and has produced some genuinely astonishing concepts and products in the last few years, many of which have now become products of choice for some of the UK and Europe’s biggest property and construction players – such as our H360 platform and virtual due diligence offering.
I would say one growth opportunity is the use of AI. It is really starting to come to the fore, and the use of AI to triage data and provide insight will start to happen a lot more over the next decade. It’s an exciting time for proptech!
What changes are you making to your business and the projects that you undertake to limit your carbon footprint and address the drive to net zero?
To reduce the threat of climate change we are taking steps to reduce waste, resource consumption and carbon emissions. As a consultancy, the biggest impact we can have is to help our clients meet their ESG aspirations. To do so, we have focused on growing our ESG team, whilst becoming Globechain partners to reduce waste and providing BREEAM training across the business.
However, we are also driving change inside of our business too. Hollis has introduced a multitude of measures, including launching a UK salary sacrifice electric vehicle leasing scheme, planting trees through Eden Reforestation projects, introducing waste minimisation initiatives and moving to green energy.
We have also taken a deep dive into how we run our events, removed the use of single-use plastic bottles, sourced venues that hold recognised environmental accreditations and now only source recyclable and environmentally friendly merchandise.
For more information visit Independent Real Estate Consultants | Hollis (hollisglobal.com)