Sam Meets… Joe Doak

To those students currently studying, or interested in studying Real Estate and Planning, one man that you will undoubtedly come across is Joe Doak. Joe is an Associate Professor and has been affiliated with the University for over 25 years. I had a chance to catch up with him and get to know about his experiences here at Henley.

How did you come to work in Henley Business School?

‘So after I finished my town planning masters at UCL I took-up a research position at Oxford Brookes University and also did a bit of teaching, which gave me the ‘taste’ for academia. From there I went and worked in local government for five years. In Yorkshire I worked on the strategic side of town planning, dealing with major housing development and regeneration. Later on, I also worked on the redevelopment plans for Kings Cross in London, which took over 30 years to materialise into actual development. I was looking to move from that job at the London Borough of Islington when, purely by chance, I saw a job at London South Bank University. Three years later I was invited to apply for the post of Postgraduate Programme Director in the old Department of Land Management & Development here at Reading. That was 25 years ago!’

Are you currently working on any research?

‘I have recently stood down from my role as Head of UG Programmes in the Business School in order to start a PhD….rather belatedly! It will draw on a set of ideas called ‘assemblage theory’ to explore ‘500 years of non- linear history’ in the development of central Reading. It is analysing how Reading has changed in terms of land ownership, property development and the social regulation of that process.’

A lot of people are scared of asking questions at open days, is there such a thing as a daft question?

‘No, the only daft question is the one that isn’t asked! It’s also important for people to ask our current students questions because that’s the only way they are going to find out what life’s really like here at Henley.’

What’s one of the weirdest things you have been asked at open days?

‘One year I was talking to the parents of a prospective student, when the father said to me, ‘If you let my son in, I’ll make sure you’re well looked after’. Luckily such ‘offers’ are very rare and usually said in jest….and, of course, always rejected!’

Do you have any interesting hobbies?

‘One of my favourite hobbies is photography. I once won a photo competition run by The Reading Post, which actually came as quite a surprise because my photo had been up against some really amazing shots. The picture I took was of a life-sized model pig, outside a shop in central Reading.’

What’s the best field trip you’ve been on?

‘Field trips are one of the best parts of the job. They are closely linked to the academic and professional side of the subject, embedding students in ‘experiential learning’. They are also a key part of the social side of the Real Estate and Planning programmes, helping to build a ‘community spirit’ amongst students and staff.

‘I have probably danced in most of the night clubs of Europe over the last twenty five years! The 2009 Barcelona field trip was probably one of the best; the city is a brilliant ‘urban laboratory’ and the student group that year were great. They had me dancing until morning!’


Do you have any highlights in particular from your time at Henley so far?

‘I know it’s a bit corny to say this, but I think it was receiving a card from an Indian student thanking me for the quality of the learning experience we had provided in REP….and for my brilliant teaching of course! I think student interaction as a whole is the most rewarding part of my work, and seeing students develop their understanding and grow as individuals.

‘Also the team work, for instance when changing or altering programmes or when the Business School was set-up and we had to build a whole set of new relationships. Both in my department and the Business School, I’ve met and worked with a lot of great people.’

To those who are interested in studying Real Estate, and want to find out more about the course, go to our website: and, if you’re already studying with us but want to get more involved, why not check out the Reading Real Estate Society:

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