Stephen Lewis

Managing Director of HFD Property Group Ltd

BSc Land Economics 1997
University of Paisley

 

Tell us about your time at the University

The decision to attend UoP was relatively straightforward for me – there were only 2 Universities in Scotland that undertook a Property Surveying degree – Paisley and Aberdeen.

Paisley had a fantastic reputation, especially for the Land Economics course, so the decision was easy. Studying in a different place from home was a consideration but as my degree was a sandwich degree, this allowed me to work away (in my case Aberdeen) for a year and experience ‘student life’ away from home.

Whilst it was over 20 years now, I can still fondly remember all of my fellow students and as commercial property is a relatively small market in Scotland, I still work with lots of them.

A notable experience for me was failing my final year Building Surveying class – the first and last time I every failed an exam. I simply didn’t put enough work in and it gave me the scare that I needed. I ‘aced’ the re-sit, promising myself I wouldn’t be that ill prepared again.

A favourite memory has to be the final year field trip to Berlin, for all the right education reasons of course………

Tell us about your experiences since leaving the University

I am the Managing Director of HFD Property Group Ltd, the property development arm of one of Scotland’s largest and most successful full service property companies. We develop, construct, own and  manage a portfolio of predominately office developments including some of Scotland’s best known developments including G1, Glasgow, Strathclyde Business Park and Hamilton International Park.

We have developed in excess of 2.5m sq.ft of accommodation for occupiers including Morgan Stanley, Scottish Power, Wood Group and Babcock.

I started during my sandwich “year –out” in 1995, working for Scottish Enterprise in Aberdeen and was fortunate enough to get hand-on experience in development, construction, management and investment – that really was a baptise of fire but the opportunity to gain so much practical experience while still learning as a student. The degree course effectively taught you the skills you need in the first 2 years of study which were applied during the 3rd year of placement working. That placement year enhanced that skill and knowledge, provided real work life experience and the final year brought together that combined work.

Professionally, my biggest achievement is the scale of our current projects. In development terms we have recently finished or developing 1m sq.ft of office space, all circa 200,000sq.ft each. We are also expanding the Group and delivering even more IT and technology services to our circa 330 occupiers within the portfolio, including the recent completion and operation of Scotland’s first speculative Data-Centre.

HFD Group won “2017 Property Company of the Year”, the first time we have ever entered the award.

Personally the most gratifying is our current EcoCampus project, Scotland’s first Carbon Neutral office development and the new home of the University’s Lanakshire Campus.

If you could offer one piece of advice or top tip to current students what would it be?

Treat others as you expect to be treated yourself – integrity is everything, you never know when you will be sitting across the table from someone again in the future.

What is that drives you on in your professional life?

The satisfaction of delivering homes for business in which the staff and business can flourish.

Also leading the field, we are fortunate enough to have delivered a lot of first’s in Scotland in property terms, especially around sustainability and technology.

Being commercially successful is clearly a requirement, however doing that whilst delivering value for our partner occupiers and the communities in which we serve is the main driver.