Adrian Harrington

Adrian Harrington_3

Current roles: 

  • Liverty Housing Non-Executive Director
  • University of Canberra Planning and Development Committee Independent Member
  • Lighthouse Infrastructure Senior Adviser
  • Housing All Australians NSW Chair

Last role at Charter Hall:

Head of Wholesale Investor Relations & Fund Raising

Time at Charter Hall:

2018 – 2022 

What career achievement are you most proud of?

After 32 years in the industry there are many proud moments including working in research at the Property Council in 1991 (back then it was called BOMA) and leading the team that set up the BOMA Property Index, which is now known as the PCA / MSCI Property Index. Until that time, the sector had no way to measure the performance of property against other asset classes. Also working with Greg Paramor, a current Charter Hall Director, for more than 24 years and being part of his teams that created some great funds management platforms including Paladin, James Fielding and Folkestone. The latter business Charter Hall acquired in 2018. 

What is the most valuable lesson you learnt during your time at Charter Hall?

Teamwork. Watching the way teams came together to work on deals and raise capital was truly amazing. When I arrived at Charter Hall, FUM was circa $28bn and in the four years it grew to $73bn ($88bn including Paradice). That sort of growth can only be achieved if all the different disciplines in the business – cap trans, funds management, asset management, development, legal, treasury, finance, investor relations and fund raising, and research – come together to successfully execute on multiples deals.

Who would sit around the table at your ideal dinner party?

My wife Karen, Winston Churchill (UK PM during WWII), Queen Elizabeth II, Robin Williams (comedian and actor), Leigh Matthews (Hawthorn AFL legend), Mary Reibey (on our $20 note, a convict who became our first successful female entrepreneur), Clive James (Australian author) and Chris Martin (lead singer of Coldplay).

What are you currently working on that has you excited?

After leaving Charter Hall in late 2022, I went on the Board of Liverty Housing, a not-for-profit disability housing provider. In March 2023, I assumed the role of Interim CEO to spearhead the implementation of the transformation plan that the Board had approved. This plan had a key focus on restructuring the organisation and strengthening its systems and processes to accommodate the significant growth in its portfolio, which now includes over 390 properties across Australia. During my 5-month tenure as Interim CEO, I faced a challenging situation where I had to oversee the urgent relocation of ten tenants who all required high physical support. These individuals were living in housing accommodation that had serious safety issues; this was the most stressful 10 days in my corporate life. 

The experience has been incredibly rewarding, especially when witnessing the positive impact Liverty Housing’s efforts have on the lives of those we serve. I have been touched by heartwarming stories, such as a young person who had been living in residential aged care for five years finally moving into their own apartment, or receiving a heartfelt letter from an 85-year-old mother expressing gratitude for giving her 55-year-old son the opportunity to move out of their home for the first time and gain independence. The mother said, “I am so happy, my husband and I can now finally move to a retirement village”. It's moments like these that made all the hard work and challenges worthwhile. I recently stepped down as Interim CEO and have gone back on the Board. 

Our Alumni is founded on the idea of ‘Connection for life’, how have you embraced this?

It's still early days since my departure, and I find myself keeping in touch with several members of the team I used to work with. While I'm no longer part of the organisation, I remain genuinely invested in its success and still own Charter Hall shares!

As someone with over 30 years’ experience, how has the property industry transformed since you began your career? 

The industry has changed a lot.

1. Back in 1991, you were offered an ash tray when you started a new job. Yes, back then people smoked in the office!

2. The REIT sector was small. It wasn’t until the property crash of 1991/1992 that unlisted property funds looking for liquidity listed on the ASX. That was the catalyst for the securitisation of real estate in Australia, and the $120bn REIT market that Charter Hall, CQE, CLW and CQR are key components of.

3. The rise of alternate assets. For most of the 30 years, Australian institutions only really focused on office and retail, with some industrial. Industrial only became a significant component in the past five or so years with the rise of online retailing. Now we are seeing capital flowing into alternate real estate – childcare, life sciences, student accommodation, BTR, data centres etc. It is great to see Charter Hall leading the way in the social infrastructure sector off the back of the Folkestone acquisition in 2018. 

4. Globalisation of institutional real estate. The rise of mega super funds in Australia, and global pensions funds from Canada, Japan, US and Europe has seen a significant increase in cross border deals. Australian institutional real estate was born from Australian insurance companies and a number of UK insurance companies and real estate agents coming here in the 60s and 70s. Now we have an impressive array of major global institutions investing in Australia. Charter Hall has been a leader in the Australian market in partnering with this global capital, either via partnerships or through the CPOF and CPIF funds.   

What do you believe are the characteristics of great leaders? 

Good leaders are those who:

1. Set a clear vision and talk about what needs to be accomplished and take tangible actions to bring it to fruition.

2. Prioritise open and transparent communication with their teams. By sharing the company's goals and challenges, employees gain a deeper understanding of their roles and how their individual contributions to overall success.

3. Empower their teams, entrusting them with responsibilities and authority. This empowerment fosters a sense of ownership and motivation among team members.

4. Foster a culture that encourages risk-taking and innovation. When teams are empowered, they are more likely to embrace new ideas and take calculated risks, ultimately leading to creative solutions and continuous improvement.

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