By Hedgie Gundry
CBRE’s Helen Storey is widely recognised as an inspirational leader focused on innovation, committed to delivering outstanding customer service and invested in developing her team.
What does your role involve at CBRE?
As National Portfolio Manager of Commercial and Industrial Property Assets at CBRE, I manage a total of 11 industrial and commercial buildings here in New South Wales, in addition to a nationwide portfolio for my client Growthpoint, a fast-growing Melbourne-based funds manager.
How long have you been in the real estate industry?
I have more than 20 years’ property industry experience, including roles here in Sydney and also in London.
My first job out of school was at my local real estate agency, where I focused on residential property management. It was when I started at Century 21 in Willoughby that I was encouraged to move into commercial real estate. I’m more of an analytical person, so the commercial side of things better suits my personality. Since then, I’ve specialised in commercial property management, including 18 months at FPD Savills in London.
When I returned to Sydney, I worked at various commercial agencies with some agents who are now my current CBRE colleagues. At this time, I also finished my bachelor’s degree in Property Economics from UTS, which was a huge achievement for me.
I joined CBRE in 2007, managing institutional clients, then took a career break to become a personal trainer. I’ve now been back at CBRE for almost two years. CBRE has been very accommodating, giving me the flexibility, I need to work around my young family.
“I have always loved everything about property, from the way houses can be transformed during renovations to the latest home styling trends. So yes, I knew what I wanted to do from an early age.”
Did you always want to work in the real estate industry?
One of my brother’s friends worked in real estate when I was growing up and he inspired me to consider the industry as a possible career path.
I’ve always loved everything about property, from the way houses can be transformed during renovations to the latest home styling trends. So yes, I knew what I wanted to do from an early age.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
I’m so fortunate to work with great people, including everyone at Growthpoint and my team at CBRE.
In terms of my role, I’m very much at home negotiating leases and developing strategies to retain tenants. I get a great deal of satisfaction from developing good relationships with tenants. Good tenant rapport means they’re more likely to stay, which is beneficial for everyone.
I also enjoy managing my team. Yes, there are always challenges – especially managing a national team – but I love bringing everyone together to discuss how we can do things better by working as a team, rather than in isolation.
What are the key skills needed to be successful in your job?
You have to be organised, self-motivated and patient – and patience is definitely something I’ve improved upon with experience. Having good attention to detail is also really important.
Ultimately, you need to have highly advanced customer service skills. You need to be incredibly responsive and constantly thinking ahead to make sure not only your clients are happy, but your tenants are too. I always make sure I answer every email, every day. And I always return calls on the day I receive them.
You also need to be good at dealing with many different personalities and learn not to take things personally.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
2019 might be hard to beat! Winning the Commercial Property Manager category at the REINSW Awards for Excellence was incredible – and then, shortly after, I was promoted to Director at CBRE.
Here’s to 2020 being an equally outstanding year.
“Call on people for advice and never be afraid to ask someone for 15 minutes of their time to really understand what it is they do. You never know where these connections may lead.”
What are your goals for the next 12 months?
Retaining Growthpoint, developing our business relationship and expanding our portfolio is my focus, so they remain a client of CBRE’s for the long term.
I’m also in the process of training and mentoring a very talented assistant property manager, who I’m hoping can take on a bit more of my work, leaving me to create more impact with my national role.
Personally, I would love to travel more, as last year was really busy. I need to create a little more work-life balance.
How do you like to spend your time when you’re not at work?
My downtime is largely sport-related and consists of working out, running, swimming, surfing, softball and yoga. They’re my favourite things to do when I’m not at work or with my family. I also still train a few people, which I really enjoy.
Is there a phrase you live by?
“Be grateful every single day for all the things you have and all you can offer.”
This is our family motto. It’s hard to be down and unhappy if you’re constantly remembering how lucky you are to have everything you have and the opportunities that come your way.
What’s the best advice you would give to someone just starting out?
My first piece of advice would be to stick to studying in some capacity, even when it seems too hard. It took me forever to complete my degree, but I got there in the end and it opened up so many doors.
Also, never underestimate the power of networking in your early years. Get to know as many people in the industry as you can. You won’t necessarily appreciate the benefits in your 20s, but as you get older your established networks make your career progression so much easier. Call on people for advice and never be afraid to ask someone for 15 minutes of their time to really understand what it is they do. You never know where these connections may lead.