Succesful Belgian developer Ghelamco takes centre stage in the latest edition of PropertyEU in which Marie-Julie Gheysens, head of the UK business, reveals much about the company where all three children of founder Paul Gheysens hold important positions.
The interview is due to be published in full next week at a time when Ghelamco is expanding on many fronts, not least of all in the UK where the company reveals it has just agreed a second UK project, this time in the London borough of Wandsworth.
In September, the developer celebrated a topping out event at its debut UK development, The Arc – a 22-storey residential, office mixed use scheme at 225 City Road in London’s Shoreditch.
Ghelamco has made a name for itself as one of Belgium’s most successful developers. It has been involved in numerous glitzy deals including the sale earlier in the year of its Warsaw Hub skyscraper to Google for €583 mln, marking the single largest office transaction in the history of Central and Eastern Europe.
The company interests stretch across Belgium, Poland, France and the UK, but founder Paul Gheysens is also heavily involved in football as the owner of Belgian football club, Royal Antwerp FC, which plays in the Belgian First Division.
In the interview, 28-year-old Marie-Julie Gheysens talks openly not only about the secrets to the firm’s success, which was established in 1985, but also about her own career.
Determined not to rely on her father's connections, she forged a career in real estate under her own steam, firstly in New York as in intern with CBRE Capital Advisors under the mentorship of Darcy Stacom, head of New York capital markets, and one of the most successful women in real estate on the east coast of the US.
According to Stacom, she is not surprised Marie-Julie Gheysons is making a name for herself building Gheysens’ business in the UK. ‘She was bright and articulate and willing to roll up her sleeves and get the work done,’ says Stacom, reflecting upon the young protégé's time in New York.
Nowadays, the Gheysens UK head of business leads meetings on all matters of development, including construcrtion in what is still a male-dominated sector.
She says:‘As MD of the UK it is the same feeling as “breaking in there”, arriving at a construction meeting with twenty men – here we go again. I can see the eyes saying, “Who is that young girl?” I say, keep going, until it is the norm.’
*Subscribers can read the full interview in PropertyEU and Online next week.