Meet the Ronson property star (and it's not Gerald)

Lisa Ronson, the daughter of property big shot Gerald Ronson, is an accomplished businesswoman in her own right. But first, she is busy transforming London living.


When Gerald Ronson, the property heavyweight and boss of Heron International, welcomed his daughter Lisa into the business, he said they would "give it a go for a year". Twelve years on and she is still there. And Ms Ronson, a former Asian equities saleswoman, seems to have no intention of leaving. There is after all, a lot of work to be done.

The commercial director of Heron, she is running the marketing and branding of The Heron -- the largest residential development in the City of London for over 30 years. Ms Ronson, who last weekend married financial services entrepreneur Paul Althasen at The Western Marble Arch Synagogue, followed by a reception at The Dorchester, works on the project with her uncle Laurence Ronson, who is responsible for sales.

Due for completion in 2013, the 36-storey building will comprise 284 state-of-the-art apartments, a private club, roof garden, gym and concierge service, with the lower floors home to the new Guildhall School of Music & Drama. And with around 350,000 people working in the City but only 8,000 residents, the need is clearly there.

Near 50 per cent of the apartments have already been sold since the launch earlier this year with enquiries continuing to come in. Speaking to the JC from The Heron's marketing suite in the City, Ms Ronson, says: "I think we have designed and developed a very strong product, which is helping buck the trend in terms of sales. It's a one-off."

Snapshot: Lisa Ronson

Job: Commercial director at Heron International
Age: 42
Education: Management and science degree from the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology (UMIST)
1990: Joined investment bank BZW
1999: Moved to Heron as marketing director
Home: Hampstead

She continues: "You have to wait for pre-sales today - that's very important for financing. The market is a bit shaky at the moment and we've done pretty well. We work with a very strong and driven team. We had a year to bed down the costs and design, which was important and then we were able to start. Now we are ready to get on with it."

With several London construction projects having been delayed or downsized due to financial constraints, Ms Ronson acknowledges that skyscraper developments such as The Heron and Heron Tower - the tallest building in the City due to open next year - and Sellar Property Group's the Shard, will help maintain London's status as a world financial hub. "London is very vibrant and sits right in the middle of the different timelines. It is a global financial centre and these buildings go to support that because they bring in businesspeople. And a lot of these people want prime addresses and good-quality buildings."

Heron has a development programme valued at £1.5bn. Over the past 50 years, it has developed more than 150 buildings across the world, including an impressive European leisure portfolio. But for now the company, which hasn't developed a residential project in London for around 20 years, is focusing on the City.

There is Heron Tower, The Peak - a new office building in Victoria - and the Heron Plaza - a mixed-use project on Bishopsgate which will incorporate a Four Seasons hotel and residences. "It's a mega project. A bespoke hotel hasn't been built in the City for 30 years." But Ms Ronson says they are not getting complacent.

"The developments still need to be good quality. Buyers are very knowledgeable. Specification is very important. There are various projects coming to the market which are not in prime locations, might be over-priced, or they might not have good-enough specifications."

The Heron apartments, which start at £455,000 for a studio, ranging to £2.9m for a three-bedroom, come with with Miele appliances, a flat-screen television, coffee machine and wine cooler. The prices for the penthouses have not yet been released but they are expected to fetch several million.

Ms Ronson, 42 is the eldest of Ronson's four daughters. She joined her father's company in 1999 following eight years at BZW investment bank. She says she has learned a lot from working with him. "It's been great. It's worked. We've created an amazing leisure business. We have put together a brand and rolled it out.

"My dad always taught us about hard work - that came from school days. We had to work hard. That, and to be focused. You don't waste time. You work. I used to think that the working week was a six-day week until I left home. At Heron, I am there to work, not because I'm a daughter. I don't get any special treatment."

Do they talk shop outside of work? "You automatically talk about things. It's nice going on family holidays where you can all relax and talk about it less."

She says they don't share many interests beyond property. "My father's hobby is work and his family. We don't go jogging together or anything like that." But she has inherited his charitable streak.

Ronson, the chairman and chief funder of the Community Security Trust, has given £35m to charities over the years according to this year's Sunday Times Rich List.

Ms Ronson is co-chairing next year's Roundhouse anniversary dinner and is involved with new Jewish secondary school JCoSS. She is also spearheading a work-placement project with the Union of Jewish Students.

    Last updated: 1:07pm, November 15 2010