Passion and gratitude

July/August 2017 edition

When it comes to property management, BresicWhitney’s Head of Property Management Suzie Hamilton-Flanagan knows what works. Building a successful career in Adelaide over the course of 20 years before making the move to Sydney almost two years ago, here she shares some of the lessons she’s learnt along the way.

Did you always want to work in the real estate industry?
I’ve always had a love for real estate, so I think it was inevitable that I’d end up working in the industry. Growing up, my mother had a passion for property investment and she passed that passion on to me. I spent a lot of time helping her to research properties and going along to inspections. I found it fascinating.

But I started my career heading in a completely different direction. My husband was working as a Creative Director for Young & Rubicam (an international ad agency) and introduced me to the advertising business. It wasn’t until after we had children and I was returning to work that I made the move to real estate. It was a real crossroads moment. I didn’t feel that advertising was in my future and a dear friend offered me the opportunity to run his agency’s property management portfolio. It was perfect timing and I decided to follow my passion.

From the beginning, I loved everything about this industry – and now, more than 20 years later, I still do.

Why did you choose to specialise in property management?
I started my real estate career in property management and it was the area I saw myself specialising in, but I also knew that if I wanted to be successful then I needed to understand the whole industry. So about five or six years into my real estate career, I completed my Real Estate Licence and then worked as a sales agent for a number of years. It gave me a real understanding of the life-cycle of a client – buyer, seller and investor.

When I moved back into property management, I funnelled my sales skills into new business development. While it’s common now for property management teams to have a business development manager, 10 years ago it was almost unheard of to apply a sales mindset to property management. At the time I was working at Toop & Toop in Adelaide, which is widely acknowledged as one of the most innovative agencies in the country. From there I moved to Harris Real Estate, where I was the General Manager of Property Management. Phil Harris asked me to join the agency to set up and build his property management business. We aggressively acquisitioned two rent rolls in three years, plus organically grew the business by recruiting the best BDMs in Adelaide.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
We left Adelaide almost two years ago. My husband is originally from Sydney and wanted to come back, so here we are. My position at BresicWhitney affords me the opportunity to explore a lot of areas of the business of real estate that I’m really interested in.

I love people management and development. I’m very much a people person and believe that one of my key strengths is my ability to take people on a journey. I like nothing more than bringing someone into the business and creating opportunities for them to grow in the business. I get a real kick out of building a high performing team, setting them goals and seeing them meet their KPIs.

I also enjoy playing a part in developing and implementing business strategy. We’re currently mapping out a new strategy for our property management business. The world of property management is always changing and there are lots of new business models coming into the market. How does this impact our business? How does it impact our team and their careers? How can we bring everyone on the journey? I love having these discussions and seeing our team engaging in the process. We’re doing it as a team, so we have commitment, alignment and direction through strategy.
What are your goals for the next 12 months?
We’ll be focusing on our team. We want to develop our people and provide them with pathways so they can grow their careers. We’ll also be working on our IT platforms, so they best support our service offerings. And we’ll continue to work on our operational systems and procedures to ensure the business is as efficient as possible and duplication of tasks is minimised.
When you’re not at work, how do you like to spend your time?
I like to get back to nature. I love to walk and, since moving to Sydney, we spend a lot of time on our weekends enjoying the walks around the harbour and through the national parks. For me, it’s about switching off. Real estate can be an all-consuming business, so it’s important for me to take time to be in the moment, be present and be grateful.

I have a grateful mindset about life. I’m grateful for my parents and upbringing. I’m grateful for my family and friends. I’m grateful for the career I’ve built, the job I have and the team I work with. Having this mindset allows me to focus on what’s important in life.
Is there a phrase you live by?
Work hard, play hard. When you’re in work mode, you work hard. But in your down time, turn off from work and live your life to the full. It’s a philosophy I encourage my team to adopt as well.
What’s the best advice you would give to your younger self?
I’d pass on a couple of important lessons I’ve learnt over the years.

The first is to always do what you love. Do what you’re passionate about. You spend more time at work and with your colleagues than you do with your family, so pursue a career you love. My son is currently over in the US on a college basketball scholarship. He’s six foot 10, so basketball is a natural fit for him! He’s passionate about the sport and wants to play at a professional level, and my husband and I are encouraging him to do what he can to make it a reality. Whatever your passion is, follow it. It’s something I truly believe.

Which leads to my second piece of advice – life is too short to have regrets. You’re setting yourself up to fail. You can’t afford to have that mindset. There are very few decisions in life that you can’t change your mind about. So make the best decision you can at the time and don’t regret it. Just take a chance and go for it. Don’t spend your time wishing you’d done things differently.