• 23 May 2024
  • In-person
  • Networking

UKREiiF Seminar Representation on Built Environment Boards panel

Scale your way up to becoming a board member in the built environment.

This event centres around how to get onto the board of a built environment company, as well as some of the initiatives that are championing greater board diversity.

This panel discussion aims to enlighten individuals on how to scale up their way in a firm or organization to become a board member, including ideas and initiatives that champion diversity within boards.

The built environment industry has lost significant talent over the last two decades as people have pursued other career paths due to the relative attractiveness of alternative sectors, as well as a lack of awareness across all communities of the fantastic opportunities in our sector.

This session will also explore how the make-up of boardrooms can impact recruitment and retention.


  • 12.00 – Welcome and introductions
  • 12.05 – Keynote speech
  • 12.15 – Panel discussion
  • 12.45 – Q&A with audience
  • 13.00 – Session close



Bhakti Depala - Assistant Director, City Development & Investment Unit, City of London Corporation

Bhakti has lead on high profile tall building and major complex schemes in the Square Mile and London, from pre-application to delivery, providing strategic oversight on major development schemes. She has been involved in the development of the City’s award-winning Wind and Thermal Comfort Guidelines.
Bhakti’s remit involve promoting the City as a place to develop and invest as well as lead on engagement with investors, developers, major occupiers, support small and medium sized business and to deliver the optimum environment for businesses to invest and flourish, both in terms of the physical environment and business ecosystems.
Bhakti works closely with BAME networks and young people to promote the built environment sector as a career choice.

Claire O'Shaughnessy - Director, Real Estate, Deloitte

Claire is a Director in the Real Estate team at Deloitte, which she joined from the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) (now Homes England). She has represented HCA as Board Member on a number of public:private partnerships, including English Cities Fund. At Deloitte she has combined her role advising real estate clients with seven years service as a Non-Executive Director at Sovereign Housing Association.

Event Moderator: Dinsdale Bowen-Wright

Dinsdale has over 15 years of recruitment, international sales, and operations experience in the financial services and health & social care sectors. A talented leader with a proven track record of building successful teams to serve and deliver talent, products, and services with the aim of adding value to the process. He is also a passionate advocate for equity, diversity, inclusion, and social justice.

Gurjit Atwal

-Head of Real Estate Sector and Social Mobility Partner, Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP

Gurjit is a Partner of global law firm Eversheds Sutherland, where he began his career 30 years ago, and now sits on the Real Estate group’s Senior Management Team, heading up the Real Estate Sector.

His team advise FTSE and Private Property Companies, Real Estate & Private Wealth Funds, Asset Managers, Global Inward Investors and Institutions, covering the full breadth of real estate finance, infrastructure, development, management and investment across global asset groups and sectors.

He is also the firm’s global Social Mobility Partner Sponsor, championing diversity, social mobility, inclusion and empowerment in all its forms, an area he’s hugely passionate about.

Gurjit is a member of the BCSC, ECSP, IPF and a Patron of LandAid, the property industry charity. He’s also recently become involved with The Academy of Real Assets which introduces students from disadvantaged communities to opportunities across the real estate industry.

Kate Kenny - Senior Vice President and General Manager, Jacobs, P&PS B&I Europe

In her role as People & Places Solutions Senior Vice President and General Manager in Europe, Kate leads over 8,000 people in the delivery of critical buildings, power, transport, water and
environmental projects, bringing together knowledge and innovation from across the Jacobs organization to challenge the way we solve problems and shape the next generation of solutions for our clients.

Kate is a Fellow of the Institution of Civil Engineers.

Keynote: Melanie Leech CBE, CEO, British Property Federation

Melanie joined the British Property Federation as Chief Executive in January 2015, following nine years as Director General of the Food and Drink Federation.

Melanie began her working life as a Police Constable in the Metropolitan Police Service. She joined the civil service (HM Customs) in 1988 and subsequently held senior roles in the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, the Office of the Rail Regulator and the Cabinet Office.

Her role is to champion UK real estate and to promote a long-term, sustainable partnership between governments and the sector to deliver a high quality built environment, and to create wealth.

Melanie is a Fellow of the RSA and a Trustee of LandAid, the property industry charity. In 2015, she was awarded a CBE for services to the food and drink industry.

Richard Nelson - Chair, IoD Property and Built Environment Group

Richard is Chair of the IoD Property and Built Environment Group and Managing Director of Abyss Global Ltd.

Richard is an international business strategist and business development expert focused on global trade and export in the architecture, engineering and construction industry through his consultancy business, Abyss Global Ltd.

He has previously served on the management and operations boards of both large and SME design and construction practices, as well as professional associations boards.


Gowling WLG

Gowling WLG's team of 460 real estate law experts are dedicated to providing an exceptional client experience, innovative solutions and down to earth commercial advice. We believe in the power of relationships to deliver tangible business results and achieve this by fostering a culture that is, above all, about people and teams.

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