This week, we caught up with Rosanna Lawn - Acquisition and Development Manager at YOO Living - to discuss how she made it onto Property Week's list of RESI Trailblazers within just 3 years of leaving university.
Tell us about YOO Living and what you are trying to achieve?
YOO Living is a small London-focussed investment and development company. We invest and redevelop prime London residential units, anything from a single unit to multiple units, with the ability to add value through various avenues such as purchasing competitively, repositioning and planning gain etc; we currently have 5 projects in West London. Alongside my colleague, we are responsible for all of the company's activities and forecasting. We set the business goals and targets at the beginning of the year, manage the acquisition process and strategically invest the wider group and shareholders' capital into London Real Estate. Our aim is to transform under-utilised residential units into prime real estate stock with a focus on high-end, lifestyle living.
How important is interior design to you in your role and have you seen any interesting trends develop recently?
Being part of the YOO group we are always conscious that the designs we create are beautiful and creative. Interior design is arguably one of the most important factors to our clientele and therefore we have to ensure it is one of the most important considerations for us. Viability and the finances is key but in terms of delivering a product that the market want, we have to ensure our design is well thought out and desirable. I don’t think it is a new trend and it really isn’t interiors related but I am loving the ‘hidden house’ concept, such an interesting way to utilise otherwise surplus space.
You made the Property Week RESI Trailblazers list 2019 as someone significantly changing the industry. Tell me about how you plan to change the industry?
It’s no secret that the Real Estate industry has been very slow to adapt in almost every area, two examples of this is technology and diversity. A lot of the systems are extremely archaic and need to be revitalised. It is definitely not a one woman job but what I do hope to do is inspire others to not conform to the current system if they don’t agree, to take steps towards making change and to continue to positively evolve the industry. Be brave and bold.
What is your career highlight so far?
I have quite a few career highlights but a couple really stand out to me - one of the first being offered the role I am in at the moment. I remember being at university, visiting the YOO offices and meeting John Hitchcox as a young student. I aspired to work for a such a ‘cool’ company as well as an entrepreneurial and successful individual. Coupled with the fact that I also wanted to create my own property company and portfolio, this really was the perfect role for me. The job opportunity came out of nowhere and I remember how ecstatic I was that I had fulfilled my university goal so early on.
The other would be setting up CREation Property Network and building it into the success that it is today - 4 locations across the UK, over 20 volunteers and nearly an event a month in the calendar. All supported by 8 amazing sponsors who believed in us before we had proven ourselves and the concept (really humbling). CREation keeps growing from strength to strength with 4 strong committees leading the locations, I’m excited to see how it continues to grow.
Do you think Brexit will have an effect on the proptech industry and if so how can owners future-proof their business?
I don’t see there being a hugely negative impact from Brexit.
Opportunities are being created for proptech operators because clients are undergoing cost-cutting exercises and restructuring their business models. Proptech solutions are largely there to increase efficiency and reduce costs so naturally in a difficult market, more companies will be looking to incorporate them.
Do you have any tips on how to succeed in the real estate industry for a new entrant to the market?
Be honest about your goals and needs - people can’t give you a leg up if they don’t know what you’re shooting for. My current role at YOO came from ensuring that the right people who could make a difference to my career knew what my aspirations were.