Former RLB Global Chair, Ann Bentley talks to RICS Journal about handing over the baton to her RLB colleagues, and life after retirement.
I always believed I was one of the lucky ones when it came to work. I didn’t just find a job, but a passion. It gave me an opportunity to work on projects ranging from school extensions to major urban regeneration schemes and led me to roles including global chair and UK board member of RLB.
I also acted as a strategic adviser for the Construction Leadership Council and the Construction Innovation Hub, working on ground-breaking industry initiatives such as the Procuring for value report and the Value Toolkit.
The built environment has been my lifeblood for the past four decades. So, I knew retirement was not just going to involve stepping away, but finding new avenues for my skills and experience.
Employer enables easier transition
I was privileged that I had an employer in RLB who helped me prepare for retirement and allowed me to go into it gradually.
Over the last 18 months of my official working life, I reduced my hours from full time to four days, then two-and-a-half days a week. This allowed plenty of time to hand over projects completely and thoroughly to others. This happened over about a year and involved others shadowing me for a period of time. The upshot of this was a smooth handover, with real opportunities for growth created further down the organisation.
Because your networks don’t retire when you do, it wasn’t long before I was approached in relation to two non-executive roles that, as I joked with my husband, now see me working on the most affordable and most expensive properties in London – respectively, for the Peabody Trust housing association and on the Buckingham Palace reservicing programme – challenge board, which challenges and acts as a critical friend to the team that are delivering the reservicing programme.
The Peabody Trust’s organisational tenets are ones I admire, my social housing background and leadership experience complement the skill sets of its staff, and I feel that I am making a contribution to its board and development and asset management committees.
The second non-executive position came as a surprise. I wasn’t particularly in the market for any further roles, so when the name of a former associate who is a senior civil servant popped up on my phone, he had to convince me to hear him out.
The reservicing of Buckingham Palace is a ten-year programme to make the building fit for purpose for the next 50 years, and is already halfway through. My role, alongside other senior stakeholders, is to provide oversight and ensure that the programme is undertaken in the most efficient and cost-effective way possible.
‘I vowed to myself that I would only take on a new role if it were something that genuinely aligned with my values and my skill set.’
I’ve found it’s important to think of the end of your career in the same way as the beginning of it: ask yourself what you need financially, emotionally and practically to survive. If you prepare in advance and take advice from others, you can be open to new challenges – as I have been.
This is an abridged version of an article within RICS Journal. Click here to read the full article.