Jen Lemen is a co-founder of Property Elite, Chartered Surveyor and RICS APC assessor. She is also an experienced property consultant (Director of Projekt) and RICS Registered Valuer, with over 10 years’ experience working in the commercial property sector.
Jen has extensive experience in providing training services to students, RICS APC candidates and corporate clients, together with academic experience as a Senior Lecturer at the University of the West of England, Lecturer at the University of Portsmouth and Associate Tutor at the University College of Estate Management.
Jen holds a BSc (Hons) First Class (91% average) from the University of the West of England in Property Management & Investment. She was awarded the RICS South West Regional Prize upon graduation.
What is your ideal day away from the day job?
It depends what mood I’m in! If the weather is good, then a long bike ride across the New Forest, with a stop for cake and coffee half way. Otherwise, I’d never turn down a long dog walk with my partner somewhere pretty, followed by a cosy pub lunch.
What does a typical day look like for you?
No two days are the same anymore, which I love. I tend to wake up early, between 6 and 7, and get on with some work before breakfast. It’s my most productive part of the day and I like having achieved something before 9am!
The rest of my day usually comprises a mix of work for both Property Elite and Projekt, sometimes with some dissertation supervision or lecture preparation for the University of Portsmouth or UWE Bristol. I have certain tasks allocated to certain days, e.g. Property Elite blog on Wednesdays and marketing tasks on a Monday morning. Fridays are usually quieter, so I keep some general admin for then.
I’ll also take some time out for myself in the day as well, whether it is a bike ride, pilates, gym session or dog walk. I find that working in blocks of a few hours keeps my mind fresh so I always enjoy the work I do.
What did you want to be growing up?
A fireman, a drummer, a professional snowboarder….I ended up studying Sports Science at the University of Bath, but then quit when I realised that it wasn’t going to be the career for me. My interest in this has been sparked again though in the past few years as I’ve become an avid cyclist and weight lifter.
I’ve got surveying in my blood from my Dad and Grandad, travelling around shopping centres and being told about building construction as a kid, so it seemed a natural progression after that to become a Chartered Surveyor!
What’s the first thing you do when you get up in the morning?
Two cups of coffee in bed with my partner and the dog. It’s the perfect way to start the day, discuss what we are doing and give the dog a bit of love.
What gadget can you not live without.
Probably my iPhone, I’d be a bit lost without it sadly – it’s perfect for working on the go, combined with a bit of light relief on social media!
What has driven your passion for diversity in your industry / sector?
As a gay woman, it’s not always the easiest to be out in a predominantly male and, at times, relatively old fashioned environment. I have definitely benefitted by having a strong female mentor in my life, who has given me fantastic opportunities to succeed over the years.
I have definitely seen general perceptions change over the last 10 years though, both in the professional and public spheres. I don’t believe that being young or gay, for example, should hold anybody back.
If I can be a positive role model to other professionals (whether young women or not!), then I am definitely doing something right. I hope that I am able to do this by speaking up about diversity issues.
What is the best lesson you have learned in business?
Never give up – whether it is building a business, winning new work, chasing down a rent review memo or trying to help out a client. Being tenacious, fair and reasonable has stood me in good stead so far – I think that when things become adversarial, that’s when the problems can start. Separating the people from the problem can help to keep emotions out of the equation, in addition to having robust justification behind your contentions to ensure you are confident in your position.
What tips do you have for managing your inbox?
Full inboxes stress me out! I unsubscribe from any emails or spam I don’t want to receive, file everything away in clear folders when I’ve dealt with it and keep a reminders list of when I need to follow up emails. This tends to help missing anything important, whilst ensuring that matters are dealt with efficiently.
What keeps you awake at night?
I used to have trouble sleeping, but now I have more control over my work and personal lives I sleep a lot better. At the end of the work day, I use my reminders list to note down anything I didn’t get around to or finish that day. I’ll schedule it either for the next day or a future date, this takes it out of my mind but with the knowledge that I won’t forget to do it!
I also make sure that I talk any problems or issues through with my partner before going to sleep, even if they are to do with work or they feel completely illogical in my head. It helps to clear my mind and finish the day on a positive note.
Apart from those, our two cats and dog sometimes keep me awake – imagine a 30kg greyhound jumping on your legs at 2am! Safe to say, he gets a stern talking to (and usually ignores it…).
What is the most important lesson life has taught you?
Things will go wrong, that’s a certainty. They will probably also never be the things you expect either. Making the most out of bad situations or finding ways to improve the future is what counts though – there is a certain comfort in remaining strong and positive in a crisis!
Top advice to those starting out?
Be a good human being – for me, it applies in all areas of life and it’s a guiding principle of my professional and personal conduct.
Please tell us a little bit about your company and the work you do at Property Elite and Projekt.
At Property Elite, we provide training and support to RICS APC and AssocRICS candidates, students and corporate clients. I also write a regular blog and provide 30 minutes free support to anyone who needs it.
At Projekt, we provide real estate consultancy services, e.g. strategic advice, landlord & tenant, agency and valuation, to owners and occupiers of commercial property.
How has the industry/sector changed during your career?
I entered the industry during the last financial crisis, so I’m not sure that I ever saw the golden days in the property market! I’ve seen different sectors and markets improve at different rates, being guided in my work to take advantage of the opportunities that are presented at all stages of the economic cycle.
What advice do you have for manging work and life?
Work hard when you need to, but make sure you take time out to do the things you love. I always aim to provide the best standard of service I can, but I also manage others’ expectations to keep stress at a minimum. Sometimes I’ll keep an afternoon free to do something in the daylight (especially in Winter), but will work an hour or two on a Saturday or during an evening to meet my client’s needs. Being flexible is important, as is spending time with those close to you.
How did you come up with the idea for your business?
When I passed my RICS APC, I saw a clear gap in the market for professional, friendly support and advice. I just didn’t know how to address it…
When I left my last role, the idea started to form in my head and we decided that it was time to act on it. So, Property Elite was born!
We’ve now worked with hundreds of candidates across all continents, sectors and markets. We have a diverse range of candidates, including recent graduates, senior professionals, client-side surveyors and academics.
Social media links:
Property Elite Facebook – Property-Elite-1493490914025511
My LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/jclemen/
My Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/jeflemon/