How did you first become involved in the development industry?
After many years of working in the City as a trader for various hedge funds, I realised that I’m more of a people’s person and that a finance career would never be able to fulfill me. I have always had a strong interest in property and have managed a small property portfolio on behalf of my family since my early twenties, so I decided to pursue pastures new and saw property as the ideal career path. At this time, it was already obvious to me that developing property successfully involves a strong understanding of finance, and I thought that my background in the financial industry could only be a benefit to what I wanted to bring to the realm of super-prime real estate.
However, my real escape route appeared in 2006 when my good friend and mentor Alessandro Cajrati Crivelli offered me a position at his real estate development company Est4te Four and provided me with the opportunity to work on multiple projects all over the world. Alongside the other Est4te Four Partners, and over the seven years I was working with the company, I helped Est4te Four advance from a mid-size developer into a global real estate advisor with developments in Milan, London, New York and Los Angeles.
In 2013 when Northacre was bought by Abu Dhabi Financial Group, I was asked to become its new CEO and simply couldn’t resist the opportunity to work on some of the most prestigious real estate projects in London.
Did you suffer at all in the financial crisis that started in 2008? And have things got better for Northacre since then?
The financial crisis was before my time with Northacre, but I believe it would be fair to say that anyone involved with property had a hard time when the British housing market plummeted during 2008 against the backdrop of the world economy crashing – and frankly, dramatic market fluctuations such as this will affect most business’ bottom lines. However, what I can say is that the more affluent buyers that we are targeting can often be insulated to the wider economy’s movements and political events impacting our markets.
The financial crisis is now far behind us – many other things have happened on the global scene over the years, with Brexit being most recent, but despite these challenges, London continues to flex its muscles as the global centre of wealth due to the city providing a safe investment, education opportunities and an incomparable lifestyle. Many of the world’s most prestigious schools and universities can be found in London. It is a reliable place to do business; there’s a reason why 500 of Europe’s largest companies have their headquarters in London and why a significant concentration of ultra-high-net-worth-individuals call it home. Meanwhile in terms of lifestyle, there is really nothing quite like it with top museums, five-star hotels, Michelin-starred restaurants, trendy bars, and exclusive shopping; London has something for everyone.
Northacre offers a unique product in London’s property market, and due to the lack of supply of outstanding high-end properties within the Capital, Northacre’s elevated proposition as a pedigree developer will always be in demand. With architecture at our heart, we distinguish ourselves through an intrinsic appreciation for quality craftsmanship and innovation.
What do you think the fundamentals of leadership are?
The have been many books written on the subject, but I think that one needs to keep it simple and abide by clear fundamentals which employees can then embrace. The ones I feel make the greatest difference in an organization are: transmit passion, create clear accountability, be creative, empower everyone around you and most of all have empathy.
What is your leadership style?
Hire the best people and get out of their way! It might sound simplistic but empowering employees and giving them the freedom to add value always yields the highest return whilst also creating a positive work environment.
Niccolò Barattieri di San Pietro has over 20 years’ experience in Finance/Real Estate. After spending several years alongside Est4te Four’s Partners (who built their reputation in Milan by creating arguably the largest fashion quarter in the world), Niccolo helped transform the company into a global real estate advisor with developments in Milan, London, New York and Los Angeles.
Prior to this Niccolo was Head Trader for Theorema Asset Management, a $600 million European Equity Hedge Fund. Niccolo was also Head Trader at Newman Ragazzi, a $1 billion European Equity Hedge Fund.
The rest of this interview will be published at a later date.