Bill Hughes: Legal & General boss

It was the final and most important stage in the interview process and I was 20 minutes late. But, by a stroke of luck, my interviewer was 25 minutes late.

It was 1997 and I was 31. I’d already been to numerous interviews for the role of head of research and strategy at Schroder Property Investment Management. This final interview was with Hugh Bolland, chief executive at Schroders, who absolutely would not have suffered an interviewee being late.

The journey: from geography to property

I read geography at Edinburgh University. When I left university, I got a dream job as economic development consultant at DP3.

It all ended in tears in the late 80s when suddenly the economy went into reverse and lots of people, including myself, lost their jobs.

At 24, I became a fully signed-on member of the boffin research team at DTZ. When I was there, I started a part-time MSc in property investment at City University. It was a three-year course and, before I finished my dissertation, I was offered a job as deputy head of strategy by Gerry Blundell of Jones Lang Wootton Fund Management.

I then began an Institute of Investment Management and Research qualification, another three-year commitment. It was enormously helpful because it meant I was able to debate asset classes other than property.

After six years at Schroders, I decided to head something myself.

In 2003 I took a job running Deutsche Asset Management’s property team. The UK business was in trouble and I spent the next two years integrating the UK property arm into RREEF, the real estate fund management business of Deutsche Bank.

After four years it was clear my job was done and I moved to Legal & General Property. The real appeal was the challenge to inject change, although I did not anticipate such a thrilling market.

Read the full article My big break in Property Week.

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