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Image / Editorial

Marie Hunt, Executive Director of CBRE Ireland: ‘Bite off more than you can chew, then get busy chewing!’

11th Oct 2018

Join us for the next IMAGE Networking Breakfast on Friday 19th October at the five-star Marker Hotel, where IMAGE contributing editor Melanie Morris will be talking to Executive Director of CBRE Ireland, Marie Hunt; Managing Director of Lolly and Cooks, Lolly Strahan, and Sales and Marketing Manager of the Galway Races, Sinead Cassidy. Our fabulous panel of speakers will reflect on all of the lessons that they have learned throughout their impressive careers, such as decisions made in the past, how they would have done things differently in hindsight and any words of wisdom that they can share with us.

We took a few minutes to catch up with Executive Director of CBRE Ireland, Marie Hunt, ahead of her talk.

More than 20 years ago, Marie Hunt, who hails from Co. Mayo, established the research department at property consultants CBRE Ireland, which is now regarded as one of the most authoritative sources of property information in the Irish market.  A well-respected businesswoman and regular commentator in the Irish media on business and property matters, Marie produces a range of property market publications and carries out specialist consultancy work on behalf of a broad range of institutional, private and public sector clients of the Irish business.  Over the last number of years Marie has advised many international investors and occupiers who have established operations in Ireland or acquired Irish real estate assets and represented the property industry at the Irish Banking Inquiry. Marie is an Executive Director of CBRE in Ireland and is actively involved in the firm’s business in EMEA. Marie is a chartered surveyor and a Fellow of the Society of Chartered Surveyors, Ireland.  She also has a post-graduate diploma in public relations. Marie is a board member of the Irish charity To Children with Love and was also involved in the WOW (Women Empowering Women) mentoring initiative. Marie is on the Brexit Committee of the British Irish Chamber of Commerce. Marie is also current chairperson of the Russian Irish Adoption Group. In 2017, Marie was awarded Management Professional of the Year in the Image Businesswoman of the Year awards.

Marie, how did you work your way up to become such a voice of authority in the property market?

Despite much adversity including the death of my mother at a very young age, I have worked my way up. I firmly believe that if you work hard the rewards will come. I’ve always strived to give 110% to any task assigned to me and as a result, the rewards followed. My reputation is important to me so I’ve always been true to myself and refused to be compromised. I have been lucky enough to be given autonomy to speak honestly. As a result, I think people trust my opinion and judgement. To be a voice of authority, you have to fully know your subject and I think the fact that I love property has helped in that respect! It’s hard to be passionate about something that you are not interested in and if you are not passionate about your subject matter, your audience won’t be either!


You are frequently asked to comment on the impact of Brexit on Ireland as you are on the Brexit committee of the British Irish Chamber of Commerce. Have your thoughts changed on the situation since the results of the vote came out in the UK?

No. I have always believed that Brexit is ultimately negative for the Irish economy, despite working for one of the only sectors that potentially has something to gain from Brexit relocation activity. However, while Brexit relocations have generated a welcome layer of additional demand in the office market, this is clearly not the primary driver of demand in this sector of the property market. Brexit remains a large uncertainty and I genuinely hope a solution can be found in the coming months.


Have you noticed much international investment in Ireland post-Brexit announcement?

There has been an increase in UK investors looking at the Irish market of late and we have seen additional investors looking to deploy capital in Ireland being that it is a Euro-denominated country in the last 12  months but for the most part, this is not the primary driver of investor appetite in Ireland at the moment, which is primarily as a result of the strong economic backdrop, the unique demographic profile, the very strong job creation being witnessed and pricing that is attractive compared to other European locations.


The rental market in Ireland is a worrying and worsening issue at the moment, do you foresee any let up in this concern or do you think it will forever be a problem?

I think the current impasse is purely as a result of a lack of supply. One of the most interesting sectors I have been tracking in the last 12 months is  a new sector called Build to Rent, where institutional capital is seeking to invest in purpose-built rental accommodation, which in my mind has the potential to offer a partial solution to the rental issue as it has the ability to deliver scale and provide the quality of rental accommodation that much of the highly educated transient workforce are seeking. I think that in addition to many other measures being implemented by Minister Eoghan Murphy, support for this new and emerging Build to Rent model is critical.


You are also the current chair of the Russian Irish Adoption Group and the board of the Irish charity To Children with Love and have also been involved with the mentoring initiative WOW (Women Empowering Women) How do you manage it all?

It’s a juggle to keep all sides going to be honest. A wise woman once told me to ‘Bite off more than you can chew, then get busy chewing’ and there are days when I wonder if I have bitten off too much!  I think the only way to juggle lots of things is to be organised (and to get up an hour earlier in the morning to keep on top of your To Do list if you have to).


Do you have a business mentor and if so how important is she/he to you?

I never had a formal mentor in my career but I have several people in my life that I can go to for advice and guidance if I need to and I’m eternally grateful to them for being available to me and always giving me honest and objective advice. Having people from outside your industry to offer a different perspective is particularly important in my view.


In 2017 you were awarded Management Professional of the Year at the Image Businesswoman of the Year awards. What did this mean to you and what would you say to anyone who is considering entering this year’s awards?

It was an honour to say the least. It hasn’t changed my day-to-day role but I know that it has been inspirational to other women, both in the industry and beyond. For anyone thinking of entering this year’s awards, I would say GO FOR IT – always reach for the stars!


Join us for this Networking Breakfast where you will start your day in the beautiful surroundings of The Marker Hotel, enjoying a delicious breakfast spread of fresh fruit and pastries, and of course, plenty of coffee to fuel the morning. Get the opportunity to network with guests before taking your seats to welcome Melanie Morris on stage, alongside our esteemed panel of businesswomen. As always, there will be the opportunity to ask any of our speakers your questions at the end of the event. Everyone will leave with a fabulous luxury gift bag, as well as the chance to win some amazing prizes throughout the morning.

When: Friday 19th October
Breakfast treats from 7.30am

Where: The Marker Hotel

Tickets: €45* available on Eventbrite here
*Including luxury gift bag

Alternatively, email [email protected]
or phone (01) 271 9615