Meet the MD: Andrew Darke, Assura

Meet the MD: Andrew Darke, Assura

With a background as a chartered surveyor, Andrew now manages real estate for the NHS - and he does it exactly on time.

Assura’s objective is to deliver primary healthcare real estate to our main customers: GPs and the NHS. In such a specialist field, this means keeping up with all aspects of healthcare development so that the company maintains a position of expertise and remains ahead of the competition.

Because Assura is a publicly listed company that has to accomplish the objectives of shareholders as well as NHS clients, our team has a valuable understanding of the financial markets as well as the healthcare development sector. My responsibility is to create a strategy with the other directors, then lead, direct and guide this team to guarantee the best results for everyone.

What is it the company does?
Assura is a FTSE 250 Index listed real estate investment trust (REIT). We develop and invest in general practices that can accommodate a wide spectrum of primary care services, which helps the NHS move more resources to local neighbourhood centres.

Give us a brief timeline of your career so far – where did you start, how did you move on?

I qualified as a surveyor in the mid 80s, moving on to manage property investments for Royal Sun Alliance Group, before I went on to join Rowlinson Securities as its Investment and Portfolio director.

These earlier years revolved around investment and management in office and industrial development, until I was approached with a new prospect in 2003. This was to acquire the seed portfolio for what was then Medical Property Investment Fund as it prepared to float. 13 years and a new name later, I’m proud to say I’ve been able to grow the business across development, investment and management, all the while continuing to learn new aspects of each discipline.

What do you believe makes a great leader?
To lead by example and to encourage others to follow by gaining their respect. Be able to make difficult decisions and be committed. Show appreciation and give recognition where deserved.

What has been your biggest challenge in your current position?
As a chartered surveyor who now needs to sustain shareholder relations and fund raising, having to learn the nuances and rules of the City has been a steep learning curve for me, albeit an exciting and enjoyable one.

How do you alleviate the stress that comes with your job?
If I do find myself in an unavoidable situation, I remind myself that something important isn’t always the same as something urgent. I try and plan for the unforeseen as much as possible, but while being organised is helpful, I’d say having a good PA is invaluable.

When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Being something of a petrol head and loving anything with an engine from an early age I always wanted to be an automotive designer. I was even offered a sponsorship with Rover cars in 1980, but decided to go into property.

Any pet hates in the workplace? What do you do about them?
Our office environment is a convivial happy place with everyone working well together, so I have little reason for pet hates. That said, punctuality is something I pride myself in: my father always told me “more than 5 minutes too early for a meeting you embarrass your host, more than 5 minutes late you embarrass yourself.”

Where do you see the company in five years time?
My ambition for the company is that we’ll be the largest and most respected Healthcare REIT in Europe.

What advice would you give to an aspiring business leader?
Have faith in your abilities and never lose sight of your goals. Work hard and be open to learn something new