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Meet the new ARMA CEO

22nd March 2016|POSTED BY: Admin

Nigel Glen joins ARMA as CEO on 4th April 2016

Nigel Glen was formerly Director of Managed Living Partnership and joined ARMA Council in 2015. He joins ARMA as its new CEO on 4th April 2016. Here, Nigel talks to AQD about his background and some of the challenges he will face in his new role.

Tell us about your background?

First and foremost I am a scientist. I studied Zoology as an undergraduate and then stayed to do my Doctorate in animal behaviour. As a result of my studies I became, at the time, the world expert in a small bird, the Long Tailed Tit, which is a rather odd thing to be. I’m sure that by now someone else will have studied that particular bird and knocked me off my spot. But that fascination with the natural world has stayed with me – I am still at my happiest just watching animals and trying to figure out what they are up to.

In 1984 I joined BP (British Petroleum) as a downstream marketer in the London HQ – although I was still writing my thesis on the Tube home at night and spending every weekend back in Oxford crunching the numbers on a computer the size of a wardrobe. I learned a huge amount from my years with the company – marketing, strategy, man management and so on. BP were excellent at throwing you in at the deep end to see if you would sink or swim.

For example, after my first year in London, they sent me to Australia where pretty much on day one I was given a car and told to run 24 petrol stations in Melbourne. To this day that was probably the most important job I ever did in that it brought home how a theory that sounded good in the boardroom was a very different kettle of fish when you were standing eye to eye with someone that it affected. So I have always tried to think through a proposal in respect of how it would actually work with the clients.

Two years later, I was on a plane to spend three years in Vienna managing their first rebranding exercise – a major engineering and logistical exercise converting every single aspect of over two hundred petrol stations, depots, signage and even a hot air balloon into the new corporate look, whilst combining all of that with a regional roll-out programme and marketing campaign. My final posting with BP was to Istanbul where I was the National Investment Manager – buying, selling and building a new retail network.

After BP, I returned to London and worked for the International Petroleum Exchange – where Brent futures are traded. In those days there was an actual trading floor (just like in the film Trading Places) where brokers would scream orders at each other. Thankfully I wasn’t in the trading pit – it was a ticket to an early heart attack as far as I could see. Rather, I was in charge of the financial data distribution, press office, marketing and training departments.

This helped move me from the world of Big Oil into Finance and led to my next move when I joined one of their suppliers, a small start-up called Caplin. The company sold financial software to the various stock and commodity exchanges and investment banks. We grew exponentially and I ended up as the CEO of the New York office.

I remember tossing a coin with my Head of Sales as to who would go to the conference in the World Trade Centre the next day – which turned out to be 9/11 and he never returned. It was tough keeping the business going in the aftermath of that cataclysm but we pulled through and the company went from strength to strength.

From Caplin, I moved over to join JP Morgan and spent four years as an Investment Banker, firstly as a business manager and eventually on the credit trading floor in a support role.

After all of that, I decided to retire early at the tender age of 48. About a year into my retirement I set up Managed Living Partnerships along with my business partner, Richard Kozak. We started out managing the block that we lived in but six years later we had over forty blocks and 1,400 units under management. In early 2016 the company was sold to HML.

Why were you attracted to the role?

During my time with MLP, I joined the ARMA Council and I was impressed with how the members of the Council put so much time and effort freely into the job. Everyone put their own company interests aside and did what they felt was best for the industry. So when I was in the process of selling MLP it seemed a natural step to continue my career within the industry by applying for the job.

I have operated at the level of CEO for various companies and so I was comfortable with the responsibility of the position. And having had experience of the sector from my own company, I hoped that I would be able to make a long term difference to our sector.

What will be your responsibilities?

The day to day running of ARMA as an organisation is Noella Morton’s responsibility as Head of Operations but I hope that I can offer some help with revenue generation and marketing as I have a lot of experience in those areas. But my main responsibility will be the longer term strategy and direction of ARMA, along with being outward facing, representing ARMA to the outside world, particularly concerning legislation and policy.

What do you see as the main challenges facing our sector?

One of the obvious ones is the increasing administration in response to legislation (or in some cases legislation failing to move with the times), which takes up our time for no real increase in customer satisfaction. Another is the education of our clients - I have lost count of the number of times I have had to explain to clients why they have to follow the lease rather than some informal arrangement that they prefer, or why a Section 20 is necessary despite the delays that brings. The ARMA Regional Briefings will be invaluable to help me discuss these and other matters close to the hearts of our members.

What’s your greatest achievement?

Well I don’t think people will be particularly interested in my professional achievements – I always find that reading about what someone else has done with their balance sheet a bit of a dry topic. Outside of work I have to confess to being a bit of an adrenalin junkie – scuba diving, most forms of flying, even running the bulls in Pamplona. However, the thing that sticks in my mind the most was flying at over twice the speed of sound in a MIG 25 fighter out of Moscow up to the edge of space. Darkness and starlight above, the curvature of the Earth out of the cockpit ahead and this amazing blue planet below.