14 May 2018
We speak to Executive Director at Knight Frank Paul Hart FRICS about how backpacking and a shortage of surveying talent in Hong Kong led to nearly 30 years working and living in the "Pearl of the Orient".
As we continue to celebrate our 150th anniversary year, we are sharing the stories of our professionals who are shaping the built environment globally.
Executive Director, Greater China & Head of Commercial for Knight Frank Paul Hart was nominated by New South Wales RICS Matrics member Abby Lau MRICS, Roads and Maritime Services, as one of her inspirations. We spoke to him to learn more about his career, the value of the RICS qualification, and his thoughts on future skills.
An electric start
At age 18, Paul began his career as a cadet valuer in Queensland, working for the electricity industry.
After joining Richard Ellis in the late 1980s, he gained a broad range of experience in rural locations, including valuing unusual assets, such as cattle stations, hotels, resorts, airports and service stations. However, when the recession hit Australia in the early 1990s, many organisations closed their regional offices. This prompted Paul to go backpacking around Asia and Europe while he worked out his next step.
The skills gap in Hong Kong
Paul arrived in Hong Kong while the city was experiencing a wave of mass migration during the early 1990s. As a result of the shortage of surveying talent, foreign property professionals were drafted into the civil service sector to fulfil the skills gap. This provided Paul with his opening, and he joined the Hong Kong Government’s Rating and Valuation Department shortly after.
It wasn’t long until his aviation experience from Australia was useful, as Paul joined the Airport Authority to work on the new airport at Chek Lap Kok. This is now Hong Kong’s main international airport.
As Head of Commercial Development, he sold hotel, office and logistic sites. Once the airport development was close to completion, he joined Knight Frank (Chesterton at the time), working on topside development for the 10 new stations associated with the West Rail.
Paul has worked his way up through Knight Frank and now heads up the Commercial Team — covering office and retail leasing, capital markets and commercial sales in addition to being a member of the Greater China Executive Board Committee.
Future skills for the profession
As the quality of graduate candidates coming into the Knight Frank Graduate Scheme continues to increase, we asked Paul what he looks for most in these young professionals, which were:
- Language skills
- Interpersonal skills
- To be open and enthusiastic to work with China — particularly with opportunities in the Greater Bay area.
- An international perspective (particularly important, not just for working with teams internally, but externally too).
As Paul looks to the next generation of professionals, he also expects them to have, or to quickly secure, an RICS qualification.
Discover your best route to membership — find out more.
"Being strong academically is no longer enough." says Paul, "you must bring a broad range of skills to the table to be successful".
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