Alex Fitzgerald / Acquisitions VIC/SA & Special Projects / JLF Group  / 
Boss Ass B*tch

story / Interview / June 1, 2020

I have never really come across many ladies in acquisition roles. You mainly see ladies in sales. I am starting to see more ladies in development management roles. The ratio of male to female is out but I wouldn’t say that as a criticism of our industry. You have to ask, is that because women aren’t interested? Or they don’t think that they can do it? I would probably be in entertainment if my dad hadn’t been in the industry.

Have you ever felt that you couldn’t do something because you’re a woman? We’re at an interesting time in construction and property where we’ve still got your old white collared dude, who was a part of an era where women didn’t do what we’re doing now and that’s just how it was. What’s right or wrong is how they choose to treat you. I’m starting to wonder about guys in our generation. How are they going to feel about women up-and-coming two generations down? Will it still be that it’s uncommon for women to be in the industry?

I’ve worked in my family business, so you would assume I suppose that it’s somewhat fate. When I left school I actually went into television. I worked at Channel 10 for two years in the children’s television department. I got paid pennies but it was the best fun that I could have had. At that time my trajectory was more in entertainment and wanting to be on TV!

At the time, Channel 10 wasn’t making a lot of money so the guy that was mentoring me, that was running the children’s department, was let go. I lost my mentor and I’m big on having someone that mentors me, someone I can hash it out with, so when he left I was like, ‘what am I doing?’ I remember going to my dad and asking ‘what do I do now?’ He told me to try to come and earn some money and learn some things in the family business for three months and if I liked it, I could stay. What are we?  Nine years later – I’m still trialing it. I think I kind of like it?

Our core business for the last forty years has been land development. In 1998 my dad wrote a book called 7 Steps to Wealth. Really cheesy name. However he simply pitched to everyday Aussies how to buy house and land, build a portfolio, secure your own wealth and hold it for long enough to increase your cash flow, so that when you retire you don’t have to live off the pension.

Our key business today is called Custodian. We have 4000 mum and dads who have bought properties with us and built their portfolios. Our average investor has three properties. My job is to find the high growth corridors of Victoria and South Australia. High growth is fancy for studying data. Who would have thought Channel 10 children’s television would have led to studying data ….bleurgh!

My role in acquisitions is business to business I approach master-planned community developers and option stock signing deals. It’s pretty exciting! It’s fun because not many guys deal with chicks, so you’re mixing it up. You know you’re the young chick that doesn’t normally deal in this world, so it’s the best way to make fun of it. We sell on average thirty house and land packages a month nationally, mainly in South Australia, Victoria and Queensland.

My biggest challenge is about figuring out what I want next. You can get so caught up in the day to day that you’re not actually growing. You’ve got to figure out what you want to conquer next and is that actually growing you. My dad asks me at the start of each year ‘what do you want to do this year?’ And it’s the hardest question for me to answer. What’s next doesn’t have to be in the business, necessarily, it can be external, pushing my growth in another way. It will eventually complement whatever I’m doing in my day to day business.

I would tell my younger self to just be fearless. It has only occurred to me in the last twelve months. Don’t apologise for anything and be fearless. I actually read the book What I wish I knew when I was Twenty, when I was twenty, but the funniest thing is, that shit hasn’t sunk in until now. One of the things she points out is – don’t wait for permission from anybody to do something and that’s so true. You don’t need anyone’s permission to do anything, no matter what age you are.

I was sitting at a baby shower two months ago and there were three girls sitting around talking about one of them getting into a sports management opportunity. She was explaining to the group that she got an interview but was worried she wouldn’t get the job because sports management is a male dominated industry. I thought – yeah, it’s going to be hard, but you’ve almost checked yourself out before you’ve gone in there and blown the interview apart!

Her mindset in this situation was debilitating her, not anyone else around her .She was checking herself out before she walked in the door. She got the interview didn’t she? Maybe it’s because we’ve almost been taught in a sense, that it is going to be hard for us.  These are the sorts of things we have to be pulling ourselves up on. It’s our internal mentality as much as the external mentality going on around us and I think that’s more a metaphor for life, not just a male-female thing. On my way to work every morning I play Boss Ass B*tch. My girlfriend just broke up with a guy after seven years and all I did was send her the video – this is now your new anthem.

Both my parents taught me to not take no for an answer. Just simply do not. I used to practice karate as a kid, (black belt in karate – thank you). My mum is a tough Welsh woman, she grew up in a tiny town in Wales with limited resources. In karate, if you’re late or anything, you’re punished. Anyway, one day she was late picking me up so I was late to class, so I got punished. The Sensei was this little nuggety dude with blue eyes and everyone was just shit scared of him. His name was Sensei Bill. So I rocked up into class, bowed into the mat (lol) and he made me do a plank on the concrete on my knuckles.

My mum was furious! She went in front of the class of thirty, ‘Bill, I want to talk to you in your office now’. I was like, my arms were shaking, oh my god what is my mum going to do? She goes into the little office with him, shutting the door, but you could hear her screaming at him. I was mortified (and still planking). Listening to my mum yell at Sensei Bill ‘How can you punish her, she can’t drive, she’s twelve years old!?’ She was always a pretty tough lady. She is. But my mum would never take no for an answer and neither would my dad.

 

Alex and Danielle have a mutual legend of a friend (hiya Emily!) and met via email, plotting for birthday presents for Em’s birthday. Only then figuring out that they had an industry in common. Sometimes when we do an interview it rings so true and authentic to the voice of the person we interview. It’s like the person pops out of the page and it is you, the reader, who is having a conversation with the interviewee. Alex is down-to-earth, assertive, enthusiastic and energetic. She is passionate about innovation, looking to the future and seeing change for the betterment of our community. It has been a pleasure to interview her, get to know her and bring this piece to life with her. Wishing Alex the best for the rest of 2020, (let’s all forget the last few months, ey!) We hope you enjoy. J&D xx

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