Alice Cadfan-Lewis, Founding Member and Founder of Block Recruit, talks about her recent experience at the MIPIM conference in Cannes and provides a unique insight into this amazing event through the eyes of woman. Authored by Alice Cadfan-Lewis.
Working in the block management sector and being a huge advocate of networking, I’m always looking for new ways to connect with fellow property professionals. Not just for potential new business leads but for the opportunity to learn from others. MIPIM has been on my radar as an event offering exactly that for some years, and 2017 was my year to find out if the reality would live up to the hype.
I headed out to Cannes on Wednesday and returned on Saturday. That was my first mistake. If I decide to go again, Tuesday to Friday would be a much wiser decision. The reason being that at the end of my visit I’d ascertained that Tuesday was a day of orientation for most delegates. Focusing on the business to hand and establishing the programme of events. Who was where and what was not to be missed. When I arrived on Wednesday many people were recovering from two nights of revelry on the bounce, and were more focused on a hair of the dog than swapping valuable tips on essential seminars.
And so it begins…
Our first meeting on Wednesday was with SDL Bigwood, and it was late in the day. We set off along the Boulevard de la Croisette, to our agreed meeting place, as the day drew to a close. We are a confident group of three professional women, but the Boulevard was littered with a sea of men in suits, peppered with the occasional token woman, making the walk a slightly uncomfortable experience. As the party leader, I felt a little unnerved by the atmosphere, the vast amounts of alcohol being consumed and being so outnumbered. We didn’t know the streets and in an unfamiliar country there was also the language barrier. My advice to anybody going next year for the first time? Find out the exact address and just Uber it!
Knowing that we would see SDL Bigwood at a later event, we changed tack and went straight to an event being held by Warwick Estates at the Villa Du Festival, a beautiful venue with the perfect hosts. A good mix of male to female here and we had the added security of the hosts looking after us. We spent the evening mixing with investors, developers and architects. A well-balanced crowd.
Getting to know you!
Thursday morning was spent recovering and finding our way around Cannes. Caffe Roma seemed to be a key meeting place for all, located outside the main conference hub. Conference attendees made a bee-line for Caffe Roma at the day’s end. Again, vastly outnumbered in gender, we put our best foot forward and sallied forth to meet up with Braemar Estates at the Carlton Hotel. A thankfully civilised affair, where we talked business as well as shared our experiences of MIPIM.
News “RESI comes of age”
I was eager to hear from people that had attended the event for many years and who return each year to make new business deals and connections. And on Friday I was lucky enough to make the acquaintance of Graham Chase, previous president of RICS. Graham has been attending the event for years and explained how, historically, MIPIM was all about commercial interest but in recent years it’s seen a shift in focus to the residential market. It’s a RESI market and is dominated by RESI players.
Manchester was huge at MIPIM this year and definitely stood out as a main player in the market. Residential Land’s Bruce Ritchie talked about his plans to spend £500m over the next 12 months on new and off plan stock, so they can concentrate on refurbishment projects of older stock and yield higher returns. He believes we are at the bottom of a cycle at present and this is always the best time to invest.
So who did I meet?
It seemed that everyone we met was in sales and acquisitions. Huge deals are done in MIPIM, whether you are a curb crawler (someone who goes to MIPIM but sets up office in restaurants, cafés or hotels) or an attendee (someone who actually goes into the conference). Investors, developers, architects big and small are also in attendance.
Friday was an early start for us, we were excited to head out on our final day and make new connections. But alas it wasn’t to be. Caffe Roma, which had been packed all week, now resembled an underground club at dawn, complete with empty beer bottles and the remnants of a hard night’s partying. There were a few people there, but they looked like they needed a bed and an intravenous vitamin drip for at least a week.
Advice for first timers
Prepare and plan before you go. Log in to the MIPIM attendee’s database and set up meetings before you arrive. Speak to current clients that are attending and book appointments with them.
Once you’re there, it’s almost impossible to pin people down, their diaries are full.
Arrive early, find where everything is and don’t leave it too late on in the week to network.
Remember your flat shoes, the days are long and often lead into the small hours of the morning.
If you’re a woman attending, remember that old saying about safety in numbers? MIPIM is not for the faint hearted – that’s for sure!
Pack paracetamol, you will need it.
We ended the week at our apartment overlooking the glistening sea and array of super yachts watching the sun set on MIPIM. Would we go again? Yes. It’s property and it’s our sector.
“MIPIM for me was educational, eye opening and exciting. I learnt a lot about different edges of the industry. I realised the shocking gender inequality, which hopefully is something I can influence given my access to early careers in property/ real estate and I was excited every minute of the trip not knowing which corner I would turn next and who I would meet. All in all, a fantastic trip.” Katie Goodman, Student Recruitment Advisor – Deloitte UK
“Experiencing MIPIM was wonderful. The event, location and people I met were amazing! It was brilliant to meet and speak with people about the property industry from different nationalities. Everyone I met was extremely professional and I had great conversations about several different business opportunities. It would be good to see a stronger female presence and a representation of hard working women within the industry at MIPIM 2018.” Charley Noakes, Client Account Manager – VERTO HR
“MIPIM is the world top property event, which enables you to meet professionals on an international level. The beautiful scenery is the perfect environment to establish some long-term business and personal friendships, while having fun.” Nikol Madjarova, Business Development Associate – Thinking Space
“MIPIM is a mainly male dominated event so it is important for women to hold their own. One thing to remember is that we all have a common interest, so take the lead and break the ice! Speak to as many people as possible whether young or old, everyone has something to give” Susannah Massey, Residential Lettings Manager – Jackson
“I found MIPIM very interesting and I feel I now have more insight into what MIPIM has to offer. I had a chance to make some new contacts as well as meeting with existing PMR and Block Recruit clients. I feel privileged that I had the opportunity to attend MIPIM 2017.” Evie Hepburn, Recruitment Consultant – PMR