Alumni and supporters

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Cal Lee (BSc Real Estate 2011)

Tell us briefly about yourself and career

Call lee smaller

I am 26 years old and originally from Chester in the North West.  I joined Savills in September 2011 after graduating from the University of Reading.  In 2013 I completed my APC to qualify as a chartered surveyor with Savills.  I worked in the Commercial Development team thereafter and was involved in some large commercial transactions, including the sale of the Government’s stake in King’s Cross in 2016 for £371m. During my time in development I pitched an idea to Savills for a new business – Workthere, and following approval from our global board, left development to set up and run the business with the support of Savills.  We are now a team of four and growing following the launch of our website in February 2017. 

Why did you choose to study at the University of Reading? 

 I was initially drawn to Reading as the Real Estate undergraduate course was regarded as one of the best in the country. 

What was the best bit about living and studying in Reading?

 At the open day I was sold: the campus, opportunities and course were all streets ahead of anywhere else I had been to.  

What top tips would you give to students who are beginning their studies?

Make sure you find the time to enjoy the opportunities University has to offer outside of study, be it a new sport or society. It goes without saying that it is important to work hard; however, I would always say don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Enjoy the time you have to try new things and meet new people.

What are you up to now? How did you get there?

I founded and now head up a new business called Workthere, which is backed by global real estate consultancy Savills.  Workthere is a website that helps business, be it start-ups or larger corporates, find flexible work space.  I was a graduate at Savills and pitched the idea to our own innovation group.  From here I was required to take the pitch all the way to the top and our global board to get funding, which was approved in May 2016. We have since launched the website in February 2017. 

What would be your top tips for students interested in working in this sector?

Real estate can offer a very diverse and enjoyable working life.  It is often said to work in real estate you need to be outgoing as you’re out of the office a lot and meeting new people.  However, that’s not always the case.  I think real estate as a career offers many different types of work which all require different skill sets. So, whatever your strength, I would urge you to look at a career in real estate, as it can be both challenging and very rewarding, as well as being a very fun industry to be a part of. 

How has the University of Reading and the Careers Centre helped in your chosen career path?

The careers centre helped with my CV as well as advice on questions I might get at assessment centres and interviews.  This was invaluable. 

What are your top tips for students graduating this year?  What should they be doing to secure the job they want?

Make sure you undertake work experience in the holidays, be it 1st, 2nd or 3rd year – it is never too early to start. Companies increasingly use work placements as ‘first round interviews’.  If you can impress on the placement, it offers a brilliant platform to getting you a job. 

Why did you decide to give to the University of Reading?

I donate annually to the Reading Real Estate Foundation, as well as mentor current students on the MSc or BSc courses. RREF do a brilliant job of helping those on the course find their feet within the industry, offering brilliant lectures, networking opportunities and events. Most importantly though they have a number of schemes in place to attract people from different backgrounds to the sector who might not normally consider Real Estate as a career.  

What does the University mean to you and what is your favourite memory?

Halls was without question was a highlight.  Sharing a corridor with a group of new people, many of whom become your best mates is a brilliant experience.  Another particular highlight was the annual trip to Newquay with half the University for Summer Break; these trips were always memorable.  The best bit though was creating new friendship groups, be it through halls, sports or courses, all of which I remain good friends with today in London. I am proud to be an alumnus of the University of Reading and always look back on my time there fondly. It was a brilliant platform for my future career.