We talk to Ben Wiley

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Chris Jee

Ben Wiley, Head of Industrial and Logistics agency BNP Paribas Real Estate, as he reflects on his time as Chairman of the Industrial Agents Society.  After a two-year tenure, his role as Chairman comes to an end in December 2018

The IAS has been active for over 40 years, bringing together members of the industry through a range of networking events. The membership includes landlords, occupiers and agents who work together within the sector.

“Since I took over Chairmanship of the IAS in December 2016 the market has changed significantly, and so has the society. I inherited a strong platform from my predecessors, and some very tough acts to follow, but during the last two years we have been able to grow our membership significantly and improve the overall profile of the society too.

“At the time, we had just attempted and, based on the feedback, pulled-off our first independently run conference.  Following the success of our inaugural conference in 2016, we decided to hold a second conference, which took place on December 5th 2018 at the IMAX Waterloo, with the Rt Hon Lord William Hague closing proceedings

“The continuing challenge for the IAS has been adapting to the changing market and ensuring we stay relevant, while also maintaining our core values which are to represent the interests of the industrial sector across the UK and to develop their access to markets and provide educational / CPD events.

A society, which started over 40 years ago with a few members meeting in local Mayfair pubs, now boasts over 1,000 members across the whole of the UK. However, one of my favourite things about the IAS continues to be its sense of community, even as it has grown. You get the opportunity to work collaboratively with your competitors, while building lifelong friendships and business contacts.

“One of the biggest improvements we made during the last two years has been the full revamp of the new website. The most significant changes include greatly improved functionality and a new ‘Yellow Pages’ directory of the industry. As part of this period of change, we also took the decision to rebrand and, controversially, remove our original domain name, ‘Shedshifters’ which, as with all change, has been met with mixed feelings. That said, the goal and where I feel I will be leaving the IAS, is in the position to be seen as a serious platform for professionals to discuss the issues facing our industry and lift our combined voices. For this reason, we also took the decision to allow clients to join for the first time

“One of my proudest achievements throughout these two years has been helping to continue the discussion of gender diversity within the industry, by being part of the team that hosted the ‘IAS Women in Industrial Property’ event at BAFTA. The event heard from senior male and female figures from across the industrial sector, and our inspirational keynote speaker, Nicky Moffat, who was the highest-ranking woman in the UK Army until her resignation in 2012. I hope this event, and surrounding discussion, can continue to grow and help to educate our industry and prospective entrants

“We have also continued, and raised the standard of other existing events, such as the annual IAS Awards, and added to our diverse range of networking opportunities. New events during my term have included the IAS Golf Day, sponsored by Bericote and Tritax and the IAS Darts evening, sponsored by Graftongate.

“However, the idea of community goes beyond our profession and into our home lives. For this reason, each year we aim to raise money in excess of £15,000 for a charity, which has impacted our sector. Sadly, in 2017 we lost two prominent members, colleagues and close friends of the society, James Swallow and Henry Angell-James. We were deeply affected by the loss of these two young lives and it highlighted to us the importance of health and wellbeing in our sector.

“We have since worked with James’ and Henry’s families to raise money for charities close to their hearts; The Faraway Children’s Charity, which distributes food and resource bags to vulnerable children in the Northamptonshire area, and The Henry Angell James Memorial Trust, which was set up to raise funds to purchase defibrillators, which Henry’s family hope to install in a number of train stations

“As I hand over to Peter Freeman from Altus Group for the next two years, I look forward to watching closing as the IAS continues to grow and matures into a market-leading platform for all our members.”