From Property Agent to Recruitment Consultant

Dan Moloney, former Retail Agent for Cushman and Wakefield and now Head of Commercial Property at Deverell Smith talks about his career and his decision to move into property recruitment.

How did you begin your career in property?

My family background was property with my Father running an Estate Agency business. I was keen to follow in his footsteps and pursue a career in the commercial property industry.

I graduated with a Degree in Commercial Real Estate Management from Kingston University in 1995. At the time the market was still very subdued from the damaging crash of the early 90’s. Opportunities for graduates were scarce. After some touting of my CV, I was lucky enough to secure a position at Chesterton as an Office Agent in their Mid-Town office. The London offices market, particularly for Mid-Town was still very flat in 1997 so I took the decision to move into retail, which at the time was more a more resilient and prosperous market.

I was offered a job at Cushman & Wakefield (then known as Healey & Baker) in their Central London Retail Agency  team, which was one of the most active and high profile teams in the Company.

What challenges did you experience in your role as retail agent?

Although now more active with the opportunity to learn a great deal, career progression was still a challenge. The team had a very fixed structure making it very difficult to progress. I was at surveyor level along with a few others and ahead of us were an Associate, Senior Associate, Partner, Senior Partner and Equity Partner. As well as the restricted opportunity for promotion it also meant that any work was fed from the top down so your ability to make an impact was limited.

What would you recommend to anyone pursuing a career in Property Investment or Agency?

Take a good look at the team structure you are joining. Ask questions in the interview process to gain a clear idea of what the potential for career progression is both within the team and the Company as a whole. Do your homework when it comes to which sector you pursue a career in, particularly after the volatile conditions of recent years.

What steps and decisions did you make to move into recruitment consultancy?

My colleague and a fellow surveyor in the Central London Agency team was on the committee of the Junior Organisation of the RICS. He was approached by the Chairman at the time who was looking to employ young surveyors to join his newly formed property recruitment company. The opportunity came with risk, in a start-up environment, a small Soho attic with 4 others to be precise! But it was a challenge which if succeeded offered a very lucrative and progressive, fast paced career. There were a few raised eyebrows from friends and family at the time but I never looked back.

What are the differences and similarities in your role as recruitment consultant compared to property agent?

There are a lot of similarities from a basic sales perspective as property is first and foremost a people business. The primary difference other than the diverse range of sectors and clients you can work with is Recruitment consultancies tend to be more meritocratic than traditional Property consultancies. This means you are directly rewarded for the work you put in allowing for a lucrative and progressive career path. The environment is very entrepreneurial enabling you to really make the role your own. Building a desk is like building a business within a business. This means if you work hard opportunities are limitless. In the past decade I have travelled to Australia, the Middle East, Europe and Asia working with all types of Clients, including a guided tour of Palm Island in Dubai halfway through its Construction. It’s hard work and not for everyone but I wouldn’t have had these opportunities working in Central London Retail.

Do you think your background in property helps you in your role now?

Absolutely, firstly, it is very obvious to both clients and candidates when the person they are dealing with genuinely understands the Commercial Property market and when they don’t. Secondly, most of my University network are now at a Senior level, which helps in terms of opening doors that would otherwise be shut.

What advice would you give to a property professional looking to move into the recruitment sector?

  1. Stay with the Property Sector rather than going into other sectors.
  2. Go and talk to one of the specialist Property Recruitment firms, rather than one of the generalists.
  3. Find a Company that is growing rather than one that has already peaked.

Dan Moloney is the head of General Practice for Deverell Smith. His team recruit for all levels of the commercial property market. For more information about the General Practice team click here.

Deverell Smith are hiring. If you are interested in a career in recruitment consultancy please contact Chris Long without delay.


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