10-Minute Interview with Iain Landsman
As 2023 comes to a close, we talk to Managing Director Iain Landsman about what inspired him to start Hutcheon Mearns Real Estate.
What inspired you to start Hutcheon Mearns Real Estate?
I’ve always had ambitions of running my own business. After 15 years of working within a large global corporation, I knew I wanted to channel my energy and creativity into something more niche and nimble.
What is your vision for the business?
In the first instance, I’d like to get to a position where the business is the market leader in the North East for advising clients on their commercial property needs. After that, expansion across the rest of Scotland.
What are the defining moments in your career path?
My first step into the profession – when I was close to finishing university, I sent Paul Gee, owner of Paul Gee & Co, an email asking if he had any opportunities available. The next day, he invited me in for a chat, and I was offered a job on the spot.
The second would be back around 2011. The company I worked for had cut the headcount to just myself and one other surveyor. Some of our competitors were placing bets on when our office would close, and the pair of us worked even harder and turned the company’s fortunes around. When I left, the company had grown to become a market leader. It taught me that nothing beats hard work.
Who has been your biggest role model?
Growing up, I used to get taken golfing with my father and his friends – many of whom were surveyors. The stories the likes of David Young, Paul Gee and Les Dalgarno used to tell me about the days when oil first started definitely make me think I was born in the wrong era!
From a non-working standpoint, I would have to go with Paul Lawrie. I used to share the practice area with him at Deeside Golf Club when I was just learning to hit a ball and he was grafting to make a living on the tour. For a local guy to do what he did and win the Open was just incredible. He also has given so much back to the region after his success.
How do you define success?
Success, to me, is achieving what you set out to accomplish. Our business growth is dependent on the success of our clients. At the core, it’s about delivering good outcomes. If we do a good job for a client, they will come back to us and refer more business our way.
What would you change about your business journey if you could go back?
I would have taken the leap of faith sooner.
Who was your greatest mentor?
A combination of my two old bosses – Paul Gee and Derren McRae. Both are very successful in their own right. Paul always had a way of controlling an outcome, and the respect he had from clients was second to none. Derren has an amazing work ethic, and his drive and passion are contagious.
Can you describe a defining moment in your career that significantly impacted your approach to business?
Flying out to Houston to introduce myself in person to a contact who became a key component in my future success. It taught me a couple of things – always go that extra mile, and there’s huge value in meeting someone in person.
How do you balance your personal life and work commitments?
It’s tricky, especially when the pressure of work builds up. The key is to do the basics well – have a routine, and if you’ve had a manic week and it’s sunny on a Friday afternoon, switch off the computer and get some fresh air. The latter is hugely important, especially in Aberdeen in winter when it can feel like a very drab, dark place to stay.
Are there any creative influences that have shaped your leadership style?
In lockdown, I got into listening to podcasts. The High Performance Podcast is excellent – it got me challenging my life and what I want. Aspects like Locus of Control weren’t things I ever really thought about. But it’s given me the understanding and acceptance that if it’s going to be, it will be.
What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs looking to make their mark in business?
A friend’s late father had the mantra – if in doubt, do! If you believe in your idea, go for it. You’ll be surprised how many people want you to succeed.
Can you share a personal anecdote or story that encapsulates your career to date?
When Statoil (now Equinor) first investigated opening an office in Aberdeen, it was a prospective client I’d been chasing for years. Due to senior personnel being on leave, I was tasked with looking after a delegate of Norwegians the night before we did a tour of the city. I was told not to worry about costs, to make sure I took them somewhere nice, and to look after them. I’d spent lots of time with Norwegians and decided to ignore the instructions and took them to a well-known bar on Union Street, which served an excellent pint of Tennent’s and a vast array of whiskies – fair to say they enjoyed themselves. Know your audience and adapt to suit.
When not at work, where will we find you?
You will find me golfing, in the pub, or at the top of a mountain. This year’s highlight was scaling the Cuillin Ridge on Skye with a client.
What is next for you and Hutcheon Mearns Real Estate?
I’m incredibly excited about the next chapter! There will be plenty of hard work and honest advice, and we’ll be recruiting some like-minded, driven colleagues. Watch this space!
Get in touch if you would like to find out more about how Hutcheon Mearns Real Estate can support your business.