Building on experience

30 May 2016

How long have you been in the real estate industry?

I completed a Bachelor of Accounting at the University of NSW in 2001 and went straight into real estate thereafter. I began in residential with an independent boutique firm, selling off-the-plan CBD apartments.

Did you always want to work in the property industry?

After study, I was looking for an industry that allowed me to utilise my accounting and financial skills. People who know me would say I have an outgoing personality, and people skills are integral to real estate.

Why did you choose to specialise in commercial?

After starting in residential, I had the chance to move into commercial in 2003 with LJ Hooker Commercial Parramatta and it’s what I’ve done ever since.

The challenge is professionally rewarding. Compared to residential, I find it more complex, interesting and dynamic. You’re dealing with business-orientated clients and I can apply my technical skills in structuring deals and advising.
Commercial also allows the opportunity to work on larger and more complex assets.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

The interaction of a close team environment. I’ve known Managing Director Daniel O’Brien from our time at CBRE and he’s been South Sydney’s leading agent for the past five years now.

His professionalism instills confidence in everyone around him. He and CEO Warren Duncan have assembled a team of high achievers and the culture that benefits everyone.

What are the key skills needed to be successful in your job?

In commercial real estate it’s about understanding businesses processes, how investments work and value-adding for your clients. You also have to know the market inside out. Clients expect you to be ahead of trends and de-risk their interests.

What’s the most interesting transaction you have been involved in?

Early in my career, I assisted Centuria with the leasing of 132 Marsden Street, Parramatta. The basement level was the most challenging part of the building to lease.

When I took it on, my colleagues thought it was a time trap. But I ended up leasing it within three months to a church and childcare facility, which are still there after almost a decade.

What has been the highlight of your career so far?

The highlight of my career so far is when I headed up JLL’s Western Sydney Office Leasing. I inherited an underperforming business that had very little market share.

Within three years I brought it back to the top three in the market through recruitment and winning new business, and increased revenue by 300%.

What are your goals for the next 12 months?

As the Director of Commercial Sales and Leasing at LJ Commercial South Sydney, I want to contribute to our team’s vision to be the leading operators in the South Sydney and metropolitan market by focusing on commercial transactions and advisory.

I would also like to take advantage of my language skills – I speak Mandarin and Cantonese – and build a network connecting Asian investors to local opportunities.

The Chinese market is still buoyant and heavily weighted toward residential development sites, but also keen on retail, hotels and passive, yield-generating commercial.

When you’re not at work, how do you like to spend your time?

I have two children (5 and 2) whom I enjoy spending a lot of time with. When I have time to myself, I enjoy exercising, playing basketball and watching movies – I have a DVD collection with over 700 movies!

Is there a particular phrase or adage that you live by?

“When nothing seems to help, I go look at a stonecutter hammering away at his rock perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the hundred and first blow it will split in two, and I know it was not that blow that did it, but all that had gone before.” – Jacob Riis.

What’s the best advice you would give your younger self if you knew then what you know now?

Do your due diligence and don’t settle for the easy deal.