James Fennell is the chief executive of consultancy Nathaniel Lichfield & Partners (NLP). He became a senior director of the company in 1997 and chief executive in 2006.
Q. What are your objectives in your current role and how are you measured against them?
My objective is to advise clients and earn fees and alongside that coordinate the growth of the business. I prepare a business strategy each year on behalf of the senior directors, and then my job is to implement it with them. I report to clients and am measured by them against the success of my team's project work. I am also a company director and I report to the board of directors. I am measured on the company’s progress against the business strategy. I work closely with our chairman, Justin Gartland, and our eight office leaders.
Q. What key lessons have you learned during your career that help you to fulfil those objectives?
A. Be fair. In whatever you do and whoever you deal with, always act with integrity, be fair and listen. This is the basis for sound judgement and gaining the respect of clients, staff and all the stakeholders we work with. This will drive repeat business and long term growth.
Look beyond planning. Beyond the demands of an ever-changing property scene learn about what makes good businesses successful. Study the wider business world and the economies within which your clients are doing their business. Well informed business people make better property consultants.
Advise. We are paid to solve problems, present solutions and add value. The same applies whether you are a planner or a CEO. Always ask questions, be inquisitive, look for and give feedback; and be confident in offering up your view and substantiate it.