21 October 2021 8am – 10.30am + Add to calendar Breakfast Seminar The Bloomsbury Hotel

Click to view the report and a recording of the event.

We are absolutely delighted to invite you to our first face-to-face event since the beginning of the Pandemic.  

In partnership with Aztec Group, this event will be launching our new report shining a light on the operational side of our industry and provides an opportunity to learn how real estate leaders are investing for future success. This event will offer our members a chance to network over breakfast, as well as take part in the interactive panel discussion. 

The event will be held in the c.3000 sq.ft. air conditioned 'George V Hall' at the Bloomsbury Hotel in London's West End. This stunning room is situated on the ground floor, with 18ft high ceilings and large windows that flood the room with natural light.

After breakfast and networking, the author of our soon to be launched report, David Butcher, will discuss some of the key themes from the research. We will be exploring current and future challenges faced by operational leaders and what we can expect tomorrow’s operating models to look like.

This will be followed by a lively panel discussion with industry experts who contributed to the research.

Speakers include:

  • Moderator & Speaker: David Butcher, Managing Director of consultancy Communications and Content (author of the Paper)
  • Panellist:  Paolo Alonzi, Head of Real Estate Business Management, Operations, Finance & Structuring, abrdn plc (formerly Aberdeen Standard Investments)
  • Panellist:  Adrian Benedict, Head of Real Estate Solutions, Fidelity International
  • Panellist: Paul Conroy, Group Head of Real Assets, Aztec Group
  • Panellist: Emma Cullen, Chief Operating Officer, UK, Fiera Real Estate

Paolo Alonzi

Head of Real Estate Business Management, Operations, Finance & Structuring, abrdn plc (formerly Aberdeen Standard Investments), Abrdn

Paolo is a qualified Chartered Accountant and is Global Head of Real Estate Business Finance and Strategy at Aberdeen Standard Investments (“ASI”).  As a member of the Real Estate Investment Management Committee at ASI Paolo is responsible for providing strategic leadership and input at both business and product level whilst also being responsible for overseeing and managing the profitability of the real estate division.  In his time at ASI Paolo has been heavily involved in and often been the lead on  a number of high profile initiatives including a wide range of product launches, the industry leading merger of two PAIFs, and the development of the firm’s commercial real estate lending platform, as well as playing a key role in developing the firm’s leading real estate ESG capability.

Paolo is a recognised figure in the real estate industry with various roles at AREF (Board, Management Committee and Public Affairs Committee) as well as INREV. 

David Butcher

Managing Director, Communications and Content

Communications and Content exists to help investment and financial brands communicate with more imagination, energy and purpose.

David Butcher founded the business in September 2017, because he wanted to distil his long experience and understanding of investment and financial communications into a format that any client could use.

Back in the late 1990s, David was working in media relations with clients such as Citywire.co.uk and Moneysupermarket.com – and rapidly came to realise that the key to effective financial communications is compelling story telling, supported by good quality empirical evidence.

Over a long career, in consultancy and in-house roles, David has evolved this approach across corporate positioning, thought leadership, corporate communications, product communications, content and client communications, including request for proposals.

Paul Conroy

Group Head of Real Assets, Aztec Group

Based in Luxembourg, Paul leads our real assets offering, with Group-wide oversight of the delivery of fund and corporate services to the real estate, infrastructure and asset leasing sectors.

As Group Head of Real Assets, he has overall responsibility for our operations and multi-jurisdictional teams focused on serving this specialist asset class.

Paul is a senior leader within our Luxembourg office and is a member of the Group Executive Committee.

Background and experience

Paul joined the Group in 2014 as Head of Real Assets in Jersey, with a mandate encompassing day-to-day leadership of our Jersey-based operations, relationship teams and business development activity. His responsibilities included leading teams in the provision of administration, accounting and transfer agency services to a diverse portfolio of real estate and infrastructure clients, ranging from major international asset managers to boutique private equity real estate managers.

Upon assuming a Group-wide responsibility in 2019, Paul and his family relocated to Luxembourg.

Prior to joining the Group, Paul spent ten years working at PwC and progressed through the ranks to be an experienced senior manager. While there, he managed a team responsible for the delivery of audit and advisory services to financial institutions, funds and investors. During his time with PwC, Paul gained extensive multi-jurisdictional experience, having worked in their Jersey, London and Melbourne offices.

Emma Cullen

Chief Operating Officer, Fiera Real Estate UK

Emma joined Fiera Real Estate, UK in 2007 and was appointed General Counsel before broadening her role to run the operational side of the business. Emma’s remit includes oversight of regulation, risk and legal alongside the firm’s digital transformation and inclusion and integration of ESG in all business processes.  Prior to Fiera Real Estate, Emma qualified as a lawyer specialising in real estate investment management at Forsters LLP. Emma is a Corporate Governance Committee member of the Association of Real Estate Funds (AREF).


Thursday 21st October 2021


The Bloomsbury Hotel
16-22 Great Russell Street
London, WC1B 3NN
(Closest Underground Station:  Tottenham Court Road)


08.00 - 09.00hrs  Breakfast and networking
09.00 - 10.00hrs  Seminar
10.00 - 10.30hrs  Networking
10.30hrs Ends


This event is FREE and open to all staff from AREF Fund, Affiliate, Associate and Investor member firms (view our list of members here). N.B. This event is open to all our Future Generation network*

To Book:

We take your safety seriously - Coronavirus & social distancing:

  • The venue: The George V Grade II listed Ballroom at the Bloomsbury is of a significant size (circa 2900 sq ft) with 18ft high ceilings and large windows that flood the room with natural light. The room is situated on the ground floor and therefore requires no lifts to reach it, although there are a few stairs at the entrance of the hotel. The fully air conditioned room has recently gone through a meticulous refurbishment and has been restored to its pre-war elegance.
  • A desk for the badges will be in the main room, to prevent any build up in the entrance hall of the hotel.
  • A breakfast buffet will be served during the networking session and we would ask all guests to please keep social distancing in mind.
  • During the event, chairs will be spaced further apart than usual.
  • We would encourage all guests to take a lateral flow test before the event and please do not attend if you are showing any Coronavirus related symptoms.
  • Masks can be worn at your own discretion, they are not a legal requirement at present.
  • We will be in touch via email if the event is cancelled due to lockdown or tightening of restrictions. 

Please note:  Anyone attending this event does so at their own risk and neither AREF nor the Hotel shall be held liable for any health issues related to COVD-19 arising following attendance of this event.

We will regularly review the situation as the event approaches and make any revisions in line with Government guidelines. 


In partnership with:

 *Future generation = staff in the first 10 years of their career / not in a senior management position