In conversation with Helen Thomas, ABP Head of Property, Wales & SSP
Can you tell us more about the career path that led you to ABP?
I started my career in the private sector and spent 8 years working for two consultancy practices in Cardiff until I got seconded to Bermuda to work for the Bermuda Government Estates Department. Initially I planned a3 month secondment there but this ended up turning into a three year stint. When I returned to the UK I decided to explore opportunities in the public sector because I wanted to gain experience of how local authorities work. Once I got into the detail, I loved the challenge offered by Local Associations, especially at a time of austerity and I stayed in public sector for 10 years. I served as Head of Property for Cardiff Council for almost 5 years and found it was very rewarding. Budgets were very challenging and it was a great opportunity to implement change and drive a more forward and commercial culture.
Was there anything in particular that attracted you to ABP?
There are many factors that encouraged me to join ABP. The company’s large and diverse property ownership combined with the opportunity that exists in the industrial property market at present were definitely pull factors. I also love learning about new industries. I am thoroughly enjoying getting to learn about ports and shipping and how property can help, influence and improve the way ABP operates.
For example we have a lot of exciting projects in Wales, as we are a large land holder there and I am looking forward to bringing these to the market.
What would you say is the most exciting/innovative project you are currently working on?
Getting to know the ports, there appear to be a lot of opportunities for property development, from pump priming land to speculative building. While the industrial property market is strong at present there is a lack of supply in certain areas
What does your typical work day involve?
My typical day at the moment involves lots of meetings and port inspections as I am trying to gain a detailed understanding of ABP’s property portfolio, ports, organisation and opportunities that exist. I love keeping busy and implementing new ideas and strategies so the first three months at ABP have been very exciting indeed.
What advice would you give to young people who are interested in pursuing a career in the maritime industry/your sector within it?
The property industry provides opportunities for a great career. I have been a surveyor for 20 years and have thoroughly enjoyed every part of my career. No two days are the same and there is always an opportunity to show flare and add value which is very fulfilling. The property market can be cyclical and volatile at times, however this can offer great opportunity to consider both personal objectives and organisational changes.
Applications are now open for our Graduate Training Programme, find out more by visiting: www.abpgradcareers.co.uk