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Interview

A passion for property and the start of Prop-Op

Sarah Howden
6th Oct. '21

Growing up, Emma Finnie could either be found trawling the property listings in ESPC or immersed in an episode Channel 4’s Location, Location, Location. Property was, quite simply, her passion. Her first job as a teenager was within a Letting Agent, and it wasn’t long before she worked her way up the career ladder as property manager and then a property sourcer for some of the UK’s and UAE’s leading property investment and management companies.

With 15 years’ experience, it was only a matter of time before Emma launched her own property business. But it took the pandemic to give her the nudge, and breathing space, she needed to reflect on her future. Flexibility, job satisfaction and being the decision maker pushed her to take the leap. The result? PropOp, a Property Management and Investment company, focused on delivering a bespoke and flexible service for landlords, investors and tenants.

Congratulations on being your own boss! You’ve worked for leading names in the property industry before setting up PropOp, how do you find working for yourself?

My business partner and I had both been in the industry for 15 years and we wanted to have a bigger say in the type of service we were delivering. It was equally important to us to have a say in the direction we wanted our business to move in. We have this now and it feels great!

Having worked within large organisations, we saw the gap for a bespoke service that is tailor made to every client. Continuity of relationship management was also crucial to clients so at PropOp we offer one point of contact throughout the entire process, this builds on the relationship and assures the client that their assets are in safe hands.

I love the freedom that comes with being your own boss – making your own decisions, but also being able to make mistakes and grow from them. I also love the fact I can lead the strategic growth of my business, but still have that direct relationship with my clients. In a number of industries, I think many people will agree that when you get to a certain stage in your career, you become too ‘expensive’ for businesses to remain client facing. Being your own boss means you can maintain that all-important rapport.

We’re pretty envious that you used to live in Dubai! How was that experience and what made you move back to the UK?

I am so grateful for the time spent working in the property industry in Dubai, and what an experience it was! I worked long hours seven days a week on a commission-based salary, so it’s safe to say it was a tough gig. However, as well as being a huge learning curve it was also empowering as it gave me a taste of being self-employed. I learnt so much from my time there and it made me resilient in business. There were deals that fell through, but I learnt that you just pick yourself up and work on the next deal. It’s the failures that make us a success.

After a year, I moved back to the UK because I missed my family and friends (and Cadbury’s chocolate) and had achieved everything I wanted to professionally.

Tell us about your typical day!

My typical working day will always start with a hoover around the house – that’s right, a hoover! It sets me up for my day and gives me ten minutes to myself before I think about what the day holds. I’m up at 7am and, post hoover (it’s a mini work out!) ready for my caffeine fix at 8am. Then, I’m in work mode.

The diversity of PropOp and our service offering means no two days are the same. Mornings are usually dedicated to emails and admin before spending my afternoons meeting new business clients or viewing properties for our sourcing service.  After a busy day, I like to wind down in the evenings by going for a walk and then cooking dinner with a very cold glass of Pinot Grigio.

When you’re not working, what do you love doing? Apart from property, my other passion and hobby is travelling. Whether it’s a city break with the girls, an adventure holiday with my other half or just a day trip to somewhere new, I’m always hungry to experience new places.

I also love to be outdoors. I often stroll along Gullane Breach, my happy place, as it brings back childhood memories and it’s somewhere I find peace. I really enjoy going for walks and am lucky enough to live a stone’s throw from the Union Canal, so spend a lot of time walking along the canal to Ratho. It’s such a peaceful walk. When I’m not walking you can find me indulging in my new favourite past time, sea kayaking!

Downtime for me is spending time with my friends and family, finding new restaurants to eat in or new drink haunts.

You missed Edinburgh so much, you came back from Dubai to live here. Tell us what are the best things, in your opinion, about this city?

I think what we forget, or don’t appreciate, is that we really do have everything on our doorstep. The city centre is quick and easy to get to, there’s beautiful beaches and stunning countryside a short drive away. There’s world renowned architecture all around us, Edinburgh’s history is inimitable and we’ve got an abundance of green spaces in the middle of the city. And let’s not forgetting the enormous Castle in the middle of it all! Edinburgh is truly unique and special.

Where’s your favourite Edinburgh haunt for drinks? For me, it has to be the Devil’s Advocate. It’s off the beaten track in the Old Town, has a great atmosphere and they serve fantastic drinks. Their Whisky Sour comes highly recommended!

Tell us your three favourite independents in the city My favourite is Hair by Ava Spence. I’ve been going to Ava for years as she’s fantastic hair stylist and colour technician – and highly regarded when it comes to blonde hair especially. She just gets it right every time. I am also a huge fan of Stockbridge nail queens, Beauty Boutique By Victoria. An appointment with them is like spending an hour with your friend putting the world to rights, whilst getting your nails done to perfection. Lastly, I love Pickles. This unassuming wine bar on Broughton Street offers amazing cheese and meat platters, along with a selection of fantastic wines. If you don’t know them already, get to know them!

Which 3 women inspire you and why?

My mum as she is the strongest woman I know. She supports everything I do, is the biggest advocate for going after your dreams and always puts others before herself. It’s a really admirable trait.

My sister. Hannah is a business owner herself (Vintage Gathering) and works so incredibly hard. She gave me the confidence to go it alone and the advice on how to do it.

The late Princess Diana. She was a true inspiration to many people from all walks of life. Her charity work, her good nature and empathy.

Book that changed your life –  Everything I know about Love’ by Dolly Alderton. Funny and poignant, it’s a journey through the years that resonated with me. It’s like reading a chapter of your life, but comforting to know that through all the hard times you were not the only one going through it. This is the book I recommend to all my girl pals.

Podcast you’re listening to  – My Therapist Ghosted Me by Vogue Williams and comedian Joanne McNally. It’s absolutely hilarious and offers proper belly laughs!

Advice you’d give your younger self – Trust your intuition. It sounds so simple but I wish I had followed my gut feelings on many occasions. It’s a cliché but also never let anybody tell you that you cannot do something.

Based in Edinburgh, Property Management and Investment Company PropOp provides a personal, flexible and bespoke service to our Landlords, Tenants & Investors. PropOp is offering all Eggs free set up and free marketing materials when quoting EGG2021. For more information visit PropOp – Property Management & Investment across Scotland. (prop-op.co.uk), email hello@prop-op.co.uk or call 0131 581 9258. 

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