Property Week Q&A: Five minutes with Chris Bliss, co-founder and director of The Momentum Group

Published on Property Week on Thu 9 May 2024

The co-founder and director of The Momentum Group on how he got started in property, the celebrity he’d most like to meet, his top book and podcast recommendations and the superpower he wishes he had.

How did you join the property industry?

By accident really. My first job was as a mechanical engineer in manufacturing for Nestlé. I then requalified as an electrician and joined Equitable Life as a projects and planning engineer.

I think I properly joined the sector when I was recruited by Friends Provident on the redevelopment of Friars Square Shopping Centre in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire.

What does your job entail?

 As one of the co-founders and directors of The Momentum Group, alongside Chris Renshaw, my role has a lot of variety. Winning new business is a huge part of what we do, using the connections we have made throughout our careers.

I am also very focused on client relationships and retention, as well as ensuring that the right infrastructure is in place for our great employees.

What do you like most about the property industry?

What I like most is the variety – there is such a wide spectrum of areas you can get involved in. I am not very good in a narrow role; I am useless at sitting behind the same desk seven days a week and love to get out and about, meeting people or visiting sites across the country.

And what do you dislike most about it?

I am frustrated most when projects stagnate. The property industry is not particularly good at quickly being innovative to find a way forward. There are often blockers that stop works and we need to be keeping up the momentum (pardon the pun).

What would you change about the property industry?

 I would like to see the industry pick up the pace. There are risks involved and we must be careful and do our research, but I like to see people having confidence in decision-making, following that age-old adage, ‘if you build it, they will come’.

What barriers or challenges have you overcome?

The biggest challenge I have encountered is down to my specific career path. I am not a qualified surveyor, nor have I been to university, and I think that sometimes got in my way, particularly when I was in the middle of my career.

Once you have experience under your belt it is a different story, but there is that element where you have to prove yourself when you take a different path.

What are you most proud of in your career?

There have been some major milestones and I have been very fortunate in my career. Being part of great teams as a collective that were instrumental in opening and running the likes of the Liverpool ONE retail and leisure complex, Festival Place shopping centre in Basingstoke and Friars Square Shopping Centre in Aylesbury is what I am most proud of – along with taking all that experience to form The Momentum Group. I am incredibly proud of our team, what we deliver and our portfolio.

What do you value in people?

 I really value honesty, people who go the extra mile, solution-based thinking, collaboration and open conversation.

What advice would you give someone starting a career in the property industry?

My advice is don’t get too narrow too quickly. Immerse yourself in different skills and sectors before deciding what you want to do. I would also say get stuck in and enjoy it – it really is great fun.

Top recommendations:

 Favourite celebrity?:

I would love to spend an hour with Bear Grylls. He is an incredibly brave man with extraordinary discipline from his military career. I used to be a Scout and he is currently Chief Scout, so it would be fascinating to hear his stories.

Favourite book?:

I thoroughly enjoyed Joe Simpson’s Touching the Void, about his near-fatal attempt to descend the Siula Grande in the Peruvian Andes. I love challenges and being outside, and to attempt such a significant climb and find your way back and survive is incredible.

Favourite podcast?:

I enjoy listening to The Life Lessons with Simon Mundie. He is a sports reporter for BBC Radio 1 and uses sporting analogies to look at how athletes have overcome challenges in life. He conducts a wide range of interviews, and I find it very inspiring and humbling listening to his guests.

Superpower to have?:

I would love to be able to teleport. I am always very time-poor and try to pack a lot in, often finding myself running late. The ability to teleport and cut down travel time would be lovely. I don’t necessarily want to go forwards or backwards in time; I just want to be able to travel quickly in life now.