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COFFEE BREAK with… Simon Harvey, Senior Director - Care

Coffee Break with… is a Christie & Co series showcasing the brilliance, expertise, and diversity of our network of over 200 employees.

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When did you join Christie & Co?
January 2000.

Where were you when you accepted your role at Christie & Co?
At work. I was employed by a residential estate agency in Exeter and felt the time was right to do something different.

What was your first job?
Estate Agent – I left school at 16 and went straight into full-time employment and have been involved in selling property in some form or other for nearly 35 years.

In a couple of sentences, can you tell us a bit about your job at Christie & Co?
I’m a Senior Director in the South West Healthcare team, which involves getting to know care home owners and operators across the region and understanding their business strategy while, at the same time, liaising with buyers and identifying opportunities that will be of interest to them.

What’s your favourite thing about Christie & Co?
There are two things that set Christie & Co apart – the people and the ethos. We have a great team, locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally, and a business approach that provides us with the flexibility to manage our individual area of the business in the way that we see fit and suits our personalities, which is pretty unique.

What's a favourite project that you’ve worked on at Christie & Co so far?
There have been various projects that I have been involved in over the years, all of which have added to my knowledge and experience, but I think it is the ability to be involved in large, national projects while, at the same time, still dealing with local and regional care homeowners. It is the variety that makes the role so enjoyable.

What’s been the biggest challenge of your career so far?
To be honest, it is difficult to pick our one challenge as there have been many and it is always tempting to refer to the most recent but, from my perspective, the financial crash from 2008 onwards was the hardest. We had experienced numerous years of back-to-back growth both in the economy, within the care sector, and in the company, and this was brought to an abrupt halt, following which it was very difficult to adjust, and it took many years for things to properly recover.

What’s been a highlight of your career so far?
There have been many, from being made a Director in 2006 and receiving the company’s Negotiator of the Year award, through to my appointment as a Senior Director in 2019 and also being awarded the Care Negotiator of the Year award. Although, in many respects, every one completed sale is a highlight when you realise how much work goes into it from everyone involved.

How has the industry changed since you started at Christie & Co?
From a Christie & Co perspective - when I joined the company, negotiators did not have business mobile phones, so when we were away from the office in meetings, we would ensure that we had sufficient 10p to call into pick up any messages etc. and ask colleagues in the office to assist in our absence. Today, we are contactable almost all the time, which is most certainly a benefit, but we do need to be disciplined in how we manage our own time to maintain a sensible balance.

The care sector itself has developed hugely in the past two decades and has become far more sophisticated at an operator and management level, however the basis on which the sector was built - to deliver good quality care to the most frail and vulnerable in our society - has not changed and it remains a hugely challenging job. Those who carry it out on a daily basis have my upmost respect and admiration.

Who in your industry do you feel most inspired by?
There are lots of people within the industry doing exceptional things, but I have to say it is those delivering care on the front line who inspire me the most. And, without them performing their roles, there would be no industry for the rest of us to be involved in.

Tell us a bit about your life outside work – what are your hobbies?
With two boys, I don’t have time for many hobbies, although I am fortunate that they both like watching and playing football which has always been in my life so that tends to take up most of what little spare time I have.

What’s your hometown? Where do you live now?
I grew up in Mousehole which is a small village in West Cornwall. As a teenager, I was ready to leave but, fortunately, my father still lives in the village, so we regularly visit as a family which my boys have always enjoyed. I now live in Exeter.

Where’s the best place you’ve been on holiday?
It has to be Australia as, for someone who is not particularly keen on flying, it was a major achievement to get there, to spend so much time travelling, and to see my brother-in-law’s house for the first time.

We went there in December 2019 and, although few people did at the time, we now know what was around the corner and, on reflection, this made the trip even more special.

What’s your biggest pet peeve?
Rudeness and ignorance. An ex-colleague would always say “manners maketh man” and this is a mantra I hold dear and try to impose on my boys as well.

If you could live and work in any city, where would you go?
Barcelona, as it has everything you could want - climate, good food, and beer and, of course, a great football team! Unfortunately, it would never happen as I am useless at Spanish!

What would be your desert island meal?
Anything cooked by my wife – she’s an excellent chef.

What’s your favourite film?
I never seem to get much time to watch films except for any of the more recent James Bond movies as the whole family have enjoyed them, but I couldn’t pick out a favourite.

Tell us your favourite joke / What is your favourite movie quote?
I have quite a few favourite jokes which I think are funny but apparently no one else does so it’s probably best not to repeat them!

What is your biggest fear?
I have lots – heights, water, and flapping bird wings, to name but a few.

What is one thing on your bucket list?
I don’t really have a bucket list as I think you need to make the most of each day. If COVID has taught us anything, it is that plans can be changed in an instant.

What news source do you read every day?
I try to listen to the radio when I am in the car, and I get alerts on the BBC news app, so I suppose that would be the one that I rely on the most to keep in touch with what’s going on in the world.

What’s your social media platform of choice?
I use LinkedIn for work, and I have a Twitter account as well.

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