Bilfinger GVA's Chris Cheap reflects on a memorable MIPIM 2016
You're somewhat of a seasoned campaigner when it comes to MIPIM Chris - how has this year compared with others?
It's been busier this year with the added Manchester partners, it's also busier across the piste, there seems to be a lot more people here and more opportunities. For that reason, it's been exciting. The reason we always come to MIPIM is to support the city of Manchester and promote our brand and also seek out new opportunities.
What's the best thing about this global property conference?
You speak to a lot of people here who you speak to in Manchester. But there's a feeling out here that people are more receptive to doing business. There's a MIPIM family if you like. This isn't just confined to Manchester. We've opened a lot of relationships in London and elsewhere too.
Over the three days, have you picked up any useful approaches that other cities take?
I have a management remit across the Bilfinger GVA national offices team, which means I'm here to support colleagues from other stands here at MIPIM. It's interesting to see many different approaches. Manchester has a great stand position within the Palais des Festivals and has a lot of partners, and therefore a large budget which allows them to put on amazing events with great speakers. But it's insightful when you see how other cities, who maybe don't have the Manchester budget, go about their business so to speak. The Liverpool stand for example is very innovative and fantastic and has a large well placed screen that enables the city to put out its messages to the wider audience. The Leeds City Region and Sheffield stands are also very important areas for Bilfinger GVA and are integral to the vision that is the Northern Powerhouse.
What's the worst thing about MIPIM?
The worst thing about MIPIM is, I know this will sound dreadful, but it is very tiring. It's like getting on a treadmill on a Monday morning and not getting off until Friday. It's relentless.
Has there been a particular highlight this week Chris?
Not one no. There's been multiple moments. Working with our clients who are bringing really exciting schemes forward across Manchester and throughout the UK, is always a pleasure. So to is working with local authorities and making those new relationships that MIPIM enables you to pursue.
The Northern Powerhouse conference in the Grand Auditorium, which featured GVA Regional Director Mark Rawstron on the panel, has been well received. What are your thoughts on the event?
It was brilliant to have Mark up on stage, especially given the high profile of the other panel members such as Sir Howard. It was one of the few Northern Powerhouse sessions that came out with substance, without putting the other sessions down of course.
The difficulty with the Northern Powerhouse agenda is, that while it's moving at something of a pace, we're talking about long-term infrastructure projects that aren't going to happen overnight. That means we are at risk, at annual events like MIPIM, of talking about the same things every year.
Where do you think Manchester sits among other similar sized European cities?
Manchester is incredibly well placed. From visiting other stands this week, it's absolutely clear that Manchester views its competitors as other European tier two cities or BETA cities. What Manchester benefits from, over other cities, is that it creates a property market place that appeals to multiple sectors. It also appeals to clusters - the tech and science sectors, but also doesn't forget the engine room that is the office market, which are the big professional and financial services firms that take a lot of space in the city.
We need to keep ramming that message home and I think the Manchester Stand in the Palais des Festivals enables the city to do that.