PRESIDENT'S AWARD

This special Award is presented for an outstanding contribution to the property industry. This might be a project, company or individual, or perhaps a combination of all three.

GERALD RONSON CBE AND HERON INTERNATIONAL

The BCO’s Annual Conference this year took the theme of The Phoenix Effect, the reason being that things that have happened in the past must not be taken as a reason to fear the future, but as a reason to re-fashion it.  If there is one person who is a living example of that philosophy it is Gerald Ronson, the worthy recipient of this year’s BCO President’s Award, in recognition of his long and outstanding contribution to the offices industry. 

After a career in commercial property spanning six decades and building up a personal fortune of many, many millions, one would have been least surprised if this family man wished to live out his days in blissful retirement. That would not though take into account the entrepreneurial spirit that has seen Gerald Ronson grow Heron into an international brand which has developed more than 160 commercial buildings, in numerous global cities. His company currently has a £500 million investment portfolio and a £1.5 billion development programme. 


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Left - Gerald Ronson CBE, Heron International
Right - James Wates, Wates Group and BCO President 2012-2013

Rather than put his feet up, the man who has specialised in giving the customer what they want, as witnessed by his pioneering of the self-service petrol station, has delivered perhaps his finest project yet, the Heron Tower.

This magnificent building is a tangible example of the BCO’s mantra defining excellence in office space, and whist the 46 storey, Kohn Pedersen Fox designed building may be Gerald Ronson’s legacy, for a man of such energy, commitment and vision, the Heron Tower is unlikely to be his Swansong. One always gets the impression there is something else to come.

“I’m passionate about my business, about building great buildings and about this country” Ronson said at one his legendary annual property lunches and his words shine through in his developments. As well as Heron Tower the likes of the Peak in Victoria, 16 St James’s St, 105 Wigmore St. or Fleet Place House demonstrate Gerald’s commitment and passion for delivering high quality, well designed, innovative and user friendly office space. Being a property man, Gerald runs Heron with the bricks and mortar at its heart and with a focus on the end-user and desire to optimise their experience. 

Befitting the title of his acclaimed biography Leading from the Front, in this current market when others have backed away, battened the hatches or even shut up shop, the convivial raconteur, has not just weathered storm but has gone forth boldly and tackled the conditions in the way a true property man thinks is correct – by delivering the best building in the best location.

Despite his passion for business, the man who started his career working for his father’s furniture company understands that there is more to life. He is one of the most hardworking and generous philanthropists in the UK today who makes sure he spends at least 20% of his not inconsiderable working week helping charitable causes. He has raised over £100 million for charities and has made personal donations totalling more than £30 million each year to organisations such as the NSPCC, the Prince’s Trust, and Great Ormond Street Hospital.

To receive a BCO’s President Award is a distinguished honour and for Gerald Ronson it is most richly deserved. This award recognises Gerald’s perseverance, commitment, vision and above all his integral contribution to the world of property.