Worldwide: In the lead up to URBAN LIVING FESTIVAL: stay-live-work, International Hospitality Media has created a list of 50 innovators who have changed urban life.
These 50 have led some of the most dynamic, exciting and successful businesses in the UK and abroad, all of which have changed the ways we live and work. They span the breadth of architecture, property, development, investment work and hospitality. The list was compiled through discussions between the IHM editorial team on who has changed urban living in the new decade.
Teddy Sagi, Globe Invest, LabTech Investments:
Starting with founding gambling software company Playtech, Teddy Sagi’s diverse career has taken him across multiple economic sectors. An entrepreneur at heart, he moved onto other tech investments before making the major acquisition of Camden Market in 2014.
Since then, he has continued buying property in the area and has also invested in other parts of the city, with a portfolio of two million square feet in London. His company, LabTech Investments has sought to create urban communities providing co-working, leisure and commerce opportunities, underpinned by technology to transform the future of city living.
Brendan Sarsfield, Peabody:
Having served as CEO of Family Mosaic for 13 years prior to his current role at the head of Peabody, Brendan Sarsfield has been one of the most significant voices in housing for two decades. He has been a major advocate for the enlargement of housing associations, with Peabody offering affordable rates equivalent to those of councils in 2019.
As the leader of the G15 housing organisation from 2013 to 2015, he continued communicating the importance of rising supply to counter the national housing crisis, with his 2019 development portfolio rising above 1,000 homes. Sarsfield has also invested in urban regeneration, most recently with Peabody’s push into renovating the Thamesmead area.
Ian Schrager, The Ian Schrager Company:
Ian Schrager’s early career in nightclub ownership and entertainment, as a co-owner of Studio 54, both informs and belies his contribution to modern hospitality. When he opened Morgans Hotel in 1984 with business partner and Steve Rubell, his idea for a boutique lifestyle hotel would add a new category to the world of hospitality.
Since then Schrager has created his own hospitality company, working on boutique hotel properties around the world, partnering with Marriott for the Edition brand and creating the Public brand for himself. His ideas have influenced countless developers, designers and entrepreneurs, with his concepts of boutique hotels, urban resorts and the idea of hotel as lifestyle defining much of the 2010s.
Barry Sternlicht, Starwood Capital:
A towering figure in property investment, Barry Sternlicht and his company Starwood Capital have been major figured in US development since the 1990s. He initially started working as an investor in Chicago before being made redundant during the savings and loan crisis, taking the time to start his own company.
As an investor, his companies own stakes in real estate across the world, as well as many others. As a hotel owner, Sternlicht has started a variety of massive brands including W, St. Regis, Sheraton and Westin. He has continued his track record of launching new brands, with his company SH Hotels and Resorts owning the Tree House, 1 Hotels and Baccarat brands. As of this April, he has also moved into the extended-stay market with their investment in Extended Stay America.
Laurence Tosi, WestCap Investments:
Also known for his work in the start-up economy, former Airbnb CFO Laurence Tosi joined the company in 2015. Prior to this, he served as an executive leader at Merrill Lynch and Blackstone and was one of the most prolific start-up investors, serving as an early investor for 11 different unicorns.
Tosi’s experience in up-scaling companies helped him lead Airbnb’s global charge, and also saw him leading the company’s payments, customer service and corporate development programmes. He left Airbnb in 2018 to dedicate more time and energy to his investment fund, Weston Capital Partners. He is still a major investor in Airbnb and holds significant stakes in other hospitality brands such as Sonder.
Lisette Van Doorn, Urban Land Institute:
The CEO of the Urban Land Institute, Lisette Van Doorn has translated her experience from global real estate to setting standards of responsible development in both the UK and globally. She started working in European investment analysis with groups such as ING, before growing in her role at companies like CBRE and INREV, where she took on more executive responsibilities.
She then ran her own consultancy business, before being named CEO of the ULI in 2015. Throughout her career she has been committed to creating guidelines and standards for the industry, aiming to create a greater sense of transparency. She also runs the ULI’s charitable arm, in order to improve the philanthropic aspect of ULI’s mission.
Tony Matharu, Blue Orchid Hotels, Integrity International Group
A serial entrepreneur, before his start in hospitality, Tony Matharu had already founded multiple successful companies including a sportswear brand. However, his biggest investment came when he and his two brothers founded The Grange Hotels, which became one of London’s most significant small hotel groups and bolstered the brothers’ own personal wealth.
Last year, The Grange Hotels sold four of its hotels for nearly £1 billion, allowing Matharu to develop a new project in the former TFL headquarters. Furthermore, he has been a strong leader for central London during the pandemic, helping found the Central London Alliance and advocating for a sustainable recovery in the capital. Matharu has further received awards including Best Small Hotel Company, Hotelier of the Year, and a special award for “contribution to London’s success”.
Catherine Webster, Quintain
Executive Director for Strategy and Investment at Quintain, Catherine Webster is her company’s lead on anything involving strategy for any mixed-use development for build to rent. She has 25 years of experience working in real estate investment, having worked with Hudson Advisors, TIAA and Lehman Brothers Global Real Estate across the European market.
At Quintain, Webster has been integral in ensuring the continued financing and investment in the company’s massive £3 billion Wembley Park project. Beyond this, she helps lead the strategy department for new business for the company, ensuring that they have a continually successful pipeline.
Paul White, Frogmore:
Founder and chairman of Frogmore, Paul White has been involved in UK real estate for 51 years. When he joined Frogmore in 1995 as the company’s managing director, he tripled its profits and led a management buyout of the company in 2001.
By 2006, White had evolved the company into a wider and more established real-estate investment manager for the UK market. In this new role, he led the raising of over £1 billion of capital and led the financing, underwriting and operations of £7 billion in transactions. Though he has now moved on from his role as chief executive, White still serves as chairman at the firm. The company has continued investing in a variety of projects, including adding another Ruby Hotels location this June.
Debbie Wosskow, Love Home Swap, AllBright, Sharing Economy UK:
Debbie Wosskow has been involved in business since she was 15 when she won a Young Enterprise award for her scrunchie sales business. Since then, she has seen consistent entrepreneurial success, selling her PR firm for millions in 2007, then using the profits to launch her biggest business, Love Home Swap.
Love Home Swap is a leading members only global home swapping platform, allowing travellers to see the world through the power of sharing. Founded in the UK in 2011, the company was inspired by the movie “The Holiday” and has been helping members swap houses and lives for almost ten years; offering authentic, original and unique holiday accommodation for travellers looking for somewhere to truly write home about. Debbie left the business in 2017 and Celia Pronto took over as managing director in January 2020.
Wosskow has been one of the most significant proponents of the sharing economy in the UK, authoring a 60,000-word report for the government, and serves on the Mayor of London’s business advisory board. In 2016, she launched industry trade body Sharing Economy UK, whose members include Airbnb, Zipcar and Liftshare, to help advocate for and monitor businesses in the rising industry. She has also been a significant proponent of women in the workplace, founding networking organisation AllBright to help connect working women.
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