10QUESTIONS with Chris Curtis

Andrew Taylor Senior PR & Comms Manager

Published by Andrew Taylor,
PR & Communications Director at Freshfield

Our 10QUESTIONS feature asks members of the Freshfield community ten questions about their working life. Featuring client partners, colleagues and FF friends, our guests share some personal stories, views and fresh words of wisdom.

Our latest guest author is Freshfield client, Chris Curtis, director of Stanley Land and Homes, a multi-award-winning land buying and housing developer that delivers affordable new homes and creates sustainable communities.

1. How do you like to start your working day?

I like to kickstart my day with a very large, strong latte – nothing meaningful happens without it.

2. How has the pandemic changed your working life?

I think the biggest impact the pandemic has had on me is the introduction of flexible, remote working.

I believe the direction of travel was locked in some years ago and the pandemic simply accelerated us along that journey much faster that we imagined.

I can’t see the value of unnecessary commuting, it only seems to cause harm to the environment, staff wellbeing and productivity.

3. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

I’ve been lucky enough to benefit from some fantastic advice over the years, right up to the present day.

The most memorable advice I’ve received was from my favourite teacher at secondary school. He was a graduate in philosophy with an unconventional style, but he was a role model and a huge influence on me.

I remember his words clearly, ‘Curtis, read books! Read more books, and then some more. Read as many books as you can, and the rest will sort itself out.’

I’ve followed that advice ever since.

4. Where and how do you come up with your best ideas?

It’s almost always when talking with my wife Emma, my colleagues, and close friends.

Listening to other people’s opinions and ideas always inspires me, and more often than not I come away with a fresh perspective.

Two heads are always better than one, and I find that discussing my ideas with others is a great way to gain a different viewpoint.

My best ideas are always the ones that have been challenged and had input from other people – my colleague Neil will attest to that!

5. What does leadership mean to you?

Respect for others through words and actions.

I’m not in the habit of making empty promises, it’s the actions we take that matter most when dealing with friends, family and colleagues.

I instinctively gravitate toward people like this and try my best to be the same.

6. Which current or historical business figure do you most admire and why?

Oskar Schindler, a flawed businessman but also a fascinating and incredibly talented individual who demonstrated unparalleled compassion and humanity in one of the most horrific periods in our shared history.

It is now thought that ADHD, undiagnosed at the time, underpinned his unique talent.

7. What is your most trusted source of news?

I don’t rely on or wholly trust any single news source – I often start with the BBC though.

8. What is your favourite brand and why?

Oatly Barista… it goes with my coffee.

9. What’s the most recent new skill you have learnt?

Prioritising parenting and saying no to work demands that compromise time with my children.

Although my kids are still quite young, I’m acutely aware of how fast they are growing up, and they take priority over my career.

Work is important for many reasons, but I’ve learnt to have the confidence to put family first and not feel pressure to always be available, and behind a desk or on my phone.

If you are thinking about adopting this approach, I’d wholeheartedly recommend you just go for it!

10. We all use them… what management jargon phrase do you use the most?

There are many recurring phrases in my line of work, one that seems to pop up the most is ‘moving forward’.

We’ve got a lot of projects in the pipeline at Stanley, so we are constantly looking ahead, but maybe there is a better way to express this.

I should also stop saying ‘It is what it is’.

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