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There is a multitude of roles and jobs available in the property and real estate industries today. But what does it take to forge a successful career in the commercial property industry?
Commercial property refers to real estate where any commercial enterprise can take place. It includes retail property such as shopping centres, office buildings, industrial property such as manufacturing plants or even vacant land which has the potential to be developed.
A diverse industry like commercial property means there’s a range of jobs and study opportunities. So, where do you start?
Our own Angela Sansom-Daly and Elena Seymour talk about the steps they’ve taken to make it in the property industry through their Charter Hall journey.
How to start a career in property
Angela Sansom-Daly firmly believes in taking every opportunity that comes her way. So when she was studying a Bachelor of Property Economics at UTS, she decided to embrace the challenge of becoming one of our 2018 Scholarship interns.
...The connection between what I'm learning at university and what I see on a daily basis at Charter Hall makes my studies so much more tangible and realistic. I have already experienced so many areas of property through this internship, which I may never have discovered otherwise.”
Elena Seymour joined Charter Hall via a different route. After finishing school, she started in residential property management with Lendlease Communities. She moved into commercial property and joined us as a Senior Property Manager. She was steadily promoted to her current position as Asset Manager and gained formal qualifications while working.
Despite her impressive career trajectory, Elena cautions that it’s important to get qualifications. “You don’t necessarily need a degree to work in property – I’m proof of that. But I do think as you rise up into leadership roles, formal qualifications become more important. I put it off so long, because I thought I didn’t have the time, but I got into a rhythm and routine. My choice of study has built up my business communication and financial analysis skill set.”
So aside from the paths taken by Angela and Elena, what are other steps you can take to get your foot in the door of the property industry?
What to study if you’re interested in a role in property
There are many different certifications available that can lead to different jobs in the industry and education requirements vary according to the job title. However, if you’re looking for a role in property management like Elena, generally you’re required to have at least a bachelor’s degree in business administration, real estate, public administration, accounting or finance.
Australian universities offering property management courses include:
Elena advises that there are lots of other options beyond University, such as a course in property management through the Property Council Academy, which was the first course she undertook. “It was a really great networking opportunity and gave me a more strategic overview of how the industry works,”
Other tertiary institutions include:
There are also a slew of good options if you want to study online.
One important thing to keep in mind is that applicants for our Charter Hall Scholarship Program are drawn from their second last year of a Bachelor of Business (Property) at Western Sydney University or, like Angela, a Bachelor of Property Economics at the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS). An Honours course or Bachelor of Property Economics or Bachelor of Arts in International Studies at UTS also puts you in the running.
So although Angela and Elena’s paths into their careers were very different, how did they find the right role? And how do you know what skills you’ll need for your own successful career?
Which role is right for you?
“Property is such a diverse industry. There are so many career options and the work we do has a tangible effect on the city and the way people live, work and move” said Angela.
And Angela is spot on – there is a huge number of different roles to suit different skills and personalities. We are a diverse and inclusive workplace – you only have to look at the Male Champions of Change program to see how we’re working towards gender equality in our workplace – but what does it really take to become an asset manager, property manager, fund manager, analyst, marketer, IT guru, or jump into a career in property development or project management?
Empathy to understand what clients need is an important trait, along with a little flexibility to creatively handle the diversity of the industry. Developing self-discipline and persistence are also necessary too.
Elena points out that being goal-oriented and the confidence to speak up, can set up potential property managers well. She also says that it is important to be prepared to take risks and to grasp opportunities as they come along. “Look at a role for its opportunity to develop new skills versus a job title or where it sits in the organisational hierarchy. An admin role might not be your dream role, but it will help you build up your core knowledge base.”
Angela gives her take on the qualities Millennials bring to Charter Hall:
“I think every generation has a different outlook and brings different skills to the mix. Millennials are very adaptable and comfortable with the fast pace of change, whether that is technological, structural or otherwise. Property will only become more competitive and it will be essential to work flexibly and adapt quickly to stay on top.”
Most of these traits can be taught or learnt. However, there is one vital ingredient which you’ll need in order to really set yourself up with a successful career in the industry. And that is a passion for what you’re doing. Angela embodies this idea perfectly.
“Take every opportunity you are given and get as much experience as you can. If the opportunities aren't there, go out and create them for yourself.”
Click here for a Q&A session with Angela Sansom-Daly.
Click here to read Elena's Journey.