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Meet Kay Harvey, Head of Property Management for REM

6 March 2024

Meet the Occupiers

Twice a week, Kay Harvey starts the day with a yoga class at The Shard. Her role as Head of Property Management for Real Estate Management UK Ltd (REM) requires a lot of Zen. Not only is she responsible for the smooth running of The Shard but also a portfolio of premium residences and offices across the capital.

In a nutshell, her remit is to oversee every aspect of these high-profile buildings, including maintenance, safety compliance, finances, occupier relations and legal affairs.

There is also the challenge of managing the UK's highest building, which relies on complex infrastructure and exact scheduling to move people and goods from level to level.

Hollywood star Ginger Rogers famously said she did everything her dance partner Fred Astaire did, but "backwards and in heels". Kay does everything other property managers do but in a building 310 metres high.

She also wears heels. Property remains a male-dominated industry. Just 19% of professional members of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors are women, according to a 2023 report. This includes Kay, who is hopeful about the future.

"When I first joined the industry, gender bias was more prevalent. However, with the work of organisations such as Women in Property, I am confident that the perception of women's skills and abilities will continue to soar.

"Hopefully, one day, women will not be under-represented in the sector, and many more will be in managerial positions," she says.

"When I first joined the industry, gender bias was more prevalent. However, with the work of organisations such as Women in Property, I am confident that the perception of women's skills and abilities will continue to soar."

On any given day, Kay is in back-to-back meetings, liaising with her 16-strong team on anything from expenditure and legal matters to organising events, such as yoga, for the 2,500 people who work in The Shard.

She acts as Gold (the highest level of escalation) for an incident, and Kay's hawklike attention to detail and meticulous planning skills, which have powered her career to date mean she remains calm in a crisis.

These qualities were flexed after the first COVID lockdown when Kay's team had to work out how to safely re-open The Shard and REM's other properties in line with Government advice.

Not only did they have to keep occupiers safe but also REM’s service teams, without whom The Shard could not safely or legally open.

"We kept the portfolio running without a single day of downtime and stringently managed finances to avoid terminating any of our service providers or team members. We came out of the pandemic as a strong team," she says.

Work experience at the age of seventeen sparked Kay's interest in property. A stint doing mortgage valuations for a local surveying firm revealed the industry's potential.

"It was so varied, and we weren't sat in an office all day. We were doing different things every day, which led me to explore the different roles you could do as a chartered surveyor.”

Upon qualifying, Kay worked in valuation and agency, surveying hotels, pubs, restaurants and even bingo halls before specialising in property management. She was headhunted for her current job at REM, one of the most prestigious roles in UK property, in 2015.

"Every day when I pop up out of the escalators from the Retail Arcade, I look up and think 'Wow, I manage this’," she says.

Her advice for anyone new to the industry, male or female, is to "be intuitive and never doubt your ability; be a great communicator and learn to read people; balance empathy with assertiveness; be your own biggest advocate, and never stop learning and growing."

Strong communication skills and strategy are also a must. Kay's team at The Shard has two personnel dedicated to occupier relations, who ensure any issues are quickly resolved and work to create a sense of community within the building.

There is a full programme of events, including an International Women's Day Market run by a network of local businesses owned and operated by entrepreneurial women.

In a career that has reached great heights, both figuratively and literally, Kay is keen to use her position to help others rise.

Explore the Neighbourhood – Kay's Guide

The Free From Bakehouse, Borough Market

I am coeliac but have never had a problem finding a choice of things to eat in Borough Market. Stalls like The Free From Bakehouse are dedicated to creating gluten-free treats that stand up to the originals.

London Bridge, EC4R 9HA

The problem with working at The Shard is that there is very little reason to leave the building! However, my favourite lunchtime walk is across London Bridge, along the Thames and returning over Tower Bridge. It's inspiring to see The Shard on the way back.

The Tate Modern, Bankside SE1 9TG

I love modern art, and the Tate Modern is a short stroll from the office. I visit to see what's new in the Turbine Hall and switch my mind into creative mode.

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