It is not everyday that we come across people who have steadfastly remained in the same career from their teenage to their golden years (beyond 60 years old). It is even more rare to discover that these people still love every minute of what they do. With a high staff turnover and ample opportunities in the job market that allow career switching these days, it would be almost like looking for a needle in a haystack!
It must take a lot of passion and persistence for a person to stay in the same career, albeit not necessarily in the same company. One such person is Christopher Boyd, the executive chairman of property consultancy firm, CB Richard Ellis Sdn Bhd.
At the tender age of 18, Boyd started out as a valuation assistant in a mid-sized suburban real estate company in Birmingham, England. His experience confirmed that he had chosen the right profession, and he enrolled as a full-time student to study as a member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (FRICS). He qualified after three years and has never looked back.
“This was in the mid-60s and I was happy to be working under the tutelage of a young chartered surveyor by the name of Patrick Arnold. He was quite a character – a man of scrupulous honesty with very high moral values, and a great mentor, not just at a professional level. He drilled me on the importance of life’s virtues – honesty, integrity and consideration for others. Recently I went back to England and visited him. I will always be indebted to him,” confides Boyd.
During his four year tenure in the firm, Boyd learned all that was to be learned about the business of property consultancy. “The most rewarding part of my job is the knowledge that I have offered the right advice to my clients. We provide consultancy, research and advisory services to our clients who are developing property.
“I knew then that real estate consultancy was my true calling and the right profession for me. In the property profession, you have wonderful opportunities to meet many people. It helps a great deal if you are genuinely interested in others; what they do, what motivates them and so on,” Boyd shares.
Illuminating the path
Boyd says he is very grateful to the people who gave him a start in his career, “And nowadays I try hard to create similar opportunities for young interns and graduates coming into the profession”. “One’s first job is a step towards independence of mind and spirit. I enjoyed mine very much and it confirmed to me that I had chosen the right career. Now I wonder what I would have done if I had disliked the work. I can’t imagine doing anything else but I suppose it would have been important to face facts and find another career,” he says.
Boyd says his father’s vocation as an antique dealer also contributed to his career choice. “During those days in England, antique dealing and the auctioning of chattels were very closely connected to the real estate profession. Naturally, my father’s close association with the property fraternity influenced me to choose a career that is related to real estate,” Boyd recalls.
As to what was the most enduring moment and memory of his first job, Boyd says:
Getting my first pay cheque was a good feeling. I also recall meeting an elderly client who had travelled extensively all over the world. It sparked something in me. After a while, I took off and travelled overland to Australia.
After he qualified as a chartered surveyor in the mid-60s, Boyd worked for four years in the UK before joining property consultants Jones Lang Wootton’s Brisbane branch in Australia in 1970.
As manager of the Brisbane office, he gained broad experience in project management of commercial office buildings, the valuation techniques applied to a wide range of properties, as well as the retail agency.
In mid-1974, he was transferred to the newly-opened office of Jones Lang Wootton Malaysia, based in Kuala Lumpur. As a partner in the Malaysian practice, he took primary responsibility for property agency and research. In 1981, Boyd left to take up directorship of Jones Lang Wootton in Singapore, where he assumed responsibility for the agency.
Returning to Malaysia the following year, he established the Malaysian practice of Knight Frank Baillieu – registered valuators and property consultants. As the managing partner, he was consultant to a number of major developments and was involved in the marketing of numerous retail, residential and office projects. In early 1994, Boyd retired from the partnership of Knight Frank Baillieu to take up the appointment as managing director of MUI Properties Bhd.
In 2001, Boyd was appointed executive chairman of Regroup Associates Sdn Bhd, a registered valuator and property consultancy based in Kuala Lumpur. In 2009, Regroup was rebranded and formally affiliated with international consultants CB Richard Ellis.
Feeling at home
It looks as if the real estate “lineage” runs in the Boyd family. His daughter, Lara is also following in his footsteps and is in her final year of studying real estate management in the University of Reading in England. Next year, she will be pursuing her Masters in Town Planning. Like his father, Boyd must also have been a big influence in his daughter’s career choice.
Boyd says one of the most exciting times in his life was when he first set foot in Malaysia. “I couldn’t sleep when I first arrived here; mainly because I had wanted to come to this country for a while already and was really excited when I finally made it here”, he enthuses. Boyd has made Malaysia his home now. As to what he appreciates most about the country, he says, “It’s the (friendly) people and the food, or the other way round.” He also speaks fondly of the easy, relaxed, and simple lifestyle and an environment that encourages free enterprise. He also enjoys the relatively lower cost of living.
So is the 65-year-old Boyd looking to retire any time soon? He says retirement has crossed his mind, “but only in the next few years”. “For now, my hands are full; guiding over 100 young graduates in real estate management who are working in our firm. There’s still much work to be done!” he remarks. Boyd is also contemplating to do “his bit for society” by providing training skills in hotel management, to help equip youths with employable skills.
He advises young Malaysians to “always ask questions and listen to the answers”. “Never stop questioning, and don’t be afraid to speak up when you feel strongly about something, even if you are in the minority. Don’t just ‘go with the flow’ for an easy life,” he says.
Boyd points out that the growth of IT-based entertainment has made people more insular and that social skills are on the decline. “If you are entering the workforce and feel that this is happening to you, my advice is to correct it by making a conscious effort to get out and mix with others. Making friends is more than just linking up on the net.” He says when it comes to attributes, absolute honesty and integrity are vital in any profession. “Never compromise,” he stresses.
Boyd should know, as he has worked in various “interim” jobs over the course of his career – cleaning petrol stations, pumping fuel, scrubbing floors, working in a bakery and toiling on construction sites. He says that although those jobs may have seemed menial at the time, they were great eye-openers that provided invaluable life experiences and insight for him as a young teenager about what to expect in the real “adult” world.
“It is certainly recommended for young people to learn the virtues of responsibility and earning their own keep,” he muses.
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