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MIPIM: essential networking event or irrelevant distraction?

Cannes
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Next month’s annual property fair in Cannes may be only tangentially related to architecture, but plenty of architects regard it as invaluable. We asked them why they go – or don’t go

‘Why should I go?’ ask those architects who see the gargantuan property show in Cannes as having not much to do with architecture. Scanning the expansive programme, you will find plenty of references to investment, real estate risks and growth opportunities, but the A word is mentioned sparingly. Nevertheless, many practices make the annual pilgrimage to the French Riviera in the hope of meeting the right people and, ultimately, winning work. With that in mind, the AJ put the question ‘Should you go to MIPIM?’ to a range of practices.

Paul White

YES

Paul White, director, BuckleyGrayYeoman

In my experience you can’t expect to just walk into a room at MIPIM and land a job, but there’s no better place to start a conversation with the kind of people you might wait for months to meet in London. The whole property industry is here and it’s amazing how a bit of sunshine and a change of scenery breaks down the barriers that usually keep the professions separate in London.

Cannes has that magic combination of a small place with a lot to offer, there’s a real buzz about the place and that creates lots of potential for bumping into people in a spontaneous, informal way.

Russell Brown

YES

Russell Brown, co-founder, Hawkins\Brown

We have always won work either directly or indirectly at MIPIM. What is more important is being seen at MIPIM as part of the culture of commercial development, and in some ways reminding ourselves of all the work that goes into a development before and after the architect is involved to give us the opportunity in the first place. I always find it is a reality check about the relative importance of architecture in the development industry.

Fiona Scott

YES

Fiona Scott, director, Gort Scott Architects

We decided to go to MIPIM this year for the first time because we want to showcase some building projects that are bigger in scale; housing and office projects that might be interesting to the MIPIM international real estate crowd. 

Previously our built portfolio was mostly smaller and more idiosyncratic, and although we love them I don’t get the impression there’s much appetite for cat hospitals and primary schools in Cannes. We also know a lot of people who are going this year, so networking will be fun and not the kind of chore it once would have been. If we are going all that way we at least want to make sure we can go to the right parties.

Roger FitzGerald

NO

Roger FitzGerald, chairman, ADP

The focus of ADP’s work in recent years has been in the public sector, so we are used to attending the relevant big events, such as AUDE (Association of University Directors of Estates) to meet the higher education directors of estates. Our commercial work has tended to emerge through personal and local connections and long-standing relationships.  

We find that new clients and opportunities arise through our contacts and efforts throughout the course of the year, whereas MIPIM obviously involves a concentrated focus on an intense short burst of activity.  So, while we’ll be open-minded about attending in the future, we won’t be at MIPIM this year.

 

Luke Schuberth

YES 

Luke Schuberth, managing director, Aukett Swanke

I favour MIPIM for the ability to see a lot of our clients in a non-project environment over just a few days. We get feedback on our work, a sense of where the market is heading, and snippets of intelligence that make the property world more fluid. Property is a people business, and meeting away from the workplace in the sun is priceless. Aukett Swanke also uses its European contacts to good effect, notably those from Russia and Turkey who tend to do more presentations and appointments over the week.

Hazel Rounding

YES

Hazel Rounding, director, shedkm

MIPIM is undoubtedly the place to be for property professionals, but it’s not necessarily about collecting new commissions overnight. Firstly, it is about retaining, if not raising, one’s profile among the profession; both with new faces but almost as importantly with existing/historic contacts.

Secondly one benefits from escaping the cluttered day-to-day diary of both work and home life. It provides headspace to reevaluate the business at a strategic level, and enables the mapping out of important moves to keep the business healthy. 

Rab Bennetts square

NO

Rab Bennetts, director, Bennetts Associates 

For years I resisted going to MIPIM because some of our most important clients didn’t go either. When everyone else is in Cannes, London is particularly quiet and it’s a great time to meet a few key individuals whose diaries are free and who have the same reservations about hanging around with multiple thousands of blokes in suits on the seafront. I did go last year for the first (and last) time – my instincts were correct! A few years back we hosted a dinner in London during MIPIM week and called it the ‘no Cannes do’. 

Ben Cousins

YES

Ben Cousins, director, Cousins & Cousins 

Beyond the physical and mental challenge of cycling 1,500km from London to Cannes over six days with 100 other like-minded industry individuals, the Club Peloton charity ride offered the opportunity for a different type of experience, and seemed to be the perfect introduction to MIPIM – I wasn’t disappointed.

As an architect looking to expand into different sectors and to maintain existing relationships, I find MIPIM offers the spontaneity of informal meetings and chance encounters without the stress of running the practice. The whole property industry seems to congregate in a few bars and restaurants around the Croisette, and it is a valuable way to foster relationships with potential future clients and consultants. 

Heinz Richardson

YES

Heinz Richardson, director, Jestico + Whiles

We find MIPIM is an opportunity for us to meet key people – both clients and colleagues – from around the world in one place, and get a wider perspective on what’s going on in the market. It is also a good opportunity for us to discuss the work coming out of our Prague office and projects we are working on abroad and make useful connections for future business development.  

Carl Vann

YES

Carl Vann, partner, Pollard Thomas Edwards

MIPIM is best once everyone has settled in and achieved a more relaxed network state. Following this I found a universal openness to new people and opportunities, which is really refreshing and productive. I’ve actually found catching up with existing clients away from the demands of ‘the project’ to be as valuable. Not rushing back to the office (probably also fizz and a bit of winter sunshine) makes for a much better meet up. 

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