Meet the MD: James Bailey of Bruton Knowles LLP

"Be honest about the business you are managing, identify areas for improvement and drive change to a conclusion" - James Bailey, managing partner of property consultancy Bruton Knowles, speaks to UMi about his business journey.  

What is it the company does?

Bruton Knowles is a national property consultancy advising on a wide range of public, commercial and private clients with a key focus on utilities and infrastructure, specialist compensation advice, land development, valuation and commercial management. The team is currently acting on some of the largest infrastructure schemes in the UK such as the Hinckley C Nuclear Power Station, HS2, Network Rail upgrades and a range of highway schemes.

Describe your role in no more than 100 words

As managing partner, I am responsible for driving the development, growth and direction of the business, with a focus on recruiting and developing young talent, embracing new technology, and finding smarter ways of working all while focussing on our clients’ needs. The integration of new ideas as well as bright young professionals, technical and support staff will deliver our aim to transform the business in its look and feel.

Bruton Knowles operates from 12 locations in England and Wales and we are seeking to enhance our core skill offering with market leading advice, integrity and passion.

Give us a brief timeline of your career so far – where did you start, how did you move on?

I started as a Civil Servant in the Land Registry and then re-trained at the age of 30 to become a Chartered Surveyor by joining Bruton Knowles as a part-time trainee. After qualifying, I went on to undertake a range of professional roles including contract and team management, client and business development and was elected as Managing Partner in October 2017.

What do you believe makes a great leader?

Making decisions without too much navel-gazing, trusting in others to deliver and articulating a clear and simple vision. I also believe in taking wise counsel from other senior business leaders.

What has been the biggest challenge in your current position?

Understanding the need to have a plan with a sequential approach to delivering a change agenda.

How do you alleviate the stress that comes with your job?

My family and my friends, as they often offer a different perspective.

When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A professional cricketer.

Any pet hates in the workplace? What do you do about them?

Avoiding the acceptance of responsibility or not taking ownership of work/projects. I tackle it whenever it is exposed.

Where do you see the company in five years’ time?

Larger, more vibrant and client focussed with an enhanced reputation.

What advice would you give to an aspiring business leader?

Be honest about the business you are managing, identify areas for improvement and drive change to a conclusion.

What do you wish someone had told you when you started out?

Not being able to switch off is a real challenge, particularly with exciting new initiatives and business developments. They should also be patient but focussed, particularly when delivering a culture change.

Ashleigh Smith
Article by Ashleigh Smith
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