Networks are very important, more so today than ever before. My advice is to just get out there and do it. When you get out there and walk into a room full of people you don’t know, you become better at meeting new people and making new connections. I always keep in mind there are others in the same situation as me.
I like to challenge myself in my personal life to help keep perspective. Most weekends you will find me outside, road bike riding, mountain biking, hiking and camping (except in the rain!). ISPT supports the Chain Reaction Women 300 charity bike ride, which I have participated in the last three years. The first year I had just bought a road bike and had no idea how to ride it let alone how to ride in a bunch for 100kms three days in a row. It was a great challenge and I met some wonderful people along the way which has kept me coming back each year.
My mum is very proud of me and the choices I’ve made in my life. She was made to leave school to start work at the age of fourteen, she got married in her early 20’s and was expected to finish work the day she got married. She is a very capable women and could have done a lot of different things but she never had a choice. She has often wondered what her life would have been like, if she had choices I’ve had.
My mother’s advice to me was to believe in yourself and not worry about what other people think or say. When you’re a young girl, it is very difficult to understand when in that moment, what other people think is so very important to you. Looking back at her advice now, it provides you with that wonderful perspective of your own compass.
Over my career I have been very fortunate to build my knowledge and experience through working across many property disciplines including property, asset, occupier, investment and funds management in different markets in Australia as well as overseas. As a graduate I went straight into valuation, which was a great foundation to grow from and has served me well, even now in my current position as General Manager of Commercial Services at ISPT.
ISPT’s commercial portfolio consists of five billion dollars of office assets across Australia, primarily CBD A Grade assets. I work with a team of Investment Managers and we set the investment strategy for the assets and the overall portfolio. Our goal is to create clear objectives and deliver our targets around total returns for the portfolio and funds.
A part of my role involves reporting to the ISPT Board, which has been a great learning curve. It has given me first-hand experience of the key considerations of a Board and how to respond to these. The more exposure women have to Boards, hopefully, the more women will be attracted to it as a career path. Having that experience I was able to demystify it a little bit for myself and gain the confidence in my own capacity to influence and recommend decisions.
I’ve enjoyed good relationships with my teams, peers and leaders; who have encouraged me to look at new opportunities and experiences. And I’ve always made it known when I am interested in something, which has created professional opportunities for me. I have observed that women are more likely to be reserved about putting themselves forward for roles but I’ve always had the attitude that I would ‘give it a go’. Whilst I haven’t always been successful, I have learnt from being in difficult and challenging situations and these are often the experiences you take more from.
I enjoy working in teams that have a clear focus and understand where we are all going. I want the people I work with to really enjoy what they are doing and for them to be proud of what they achieve. Success is important; it is really satisfying to see people produce a great result. As a team we have recently been working on our vision, brand essence and belief systems which has been a very engaging process; hopefully people see the passion and want to get on board.
My advice to graduates is to always do something to the best of your ability. Look for opportunities to volunteer and get involved with what is going on within your industry. Be interested in what people are doing and observe what is happening around you. Show passion and things will happen for you. Look for opportunities to experience different things.
Michelle is beautifully spoken, warm and completely ‘on the ball’. A caring leader, a realist and a contributor. Something most of us try to be. Our first meeting with Michelle at Cumulus early last year, involved us introducing and pitching Gazella without a website to show. She was on board the moment we started the conversation. It’s brilliant that she has changed her status quo in one generation. A change in perspective that is fortunately becoming well entrenched, and yet still so elusive at times. Michelle typifies the hard working women. She’s made it so successfully within the industry, everything she does is so well considered. Even her article is so on point! She has been a fantastic support for us. We wish her all the best in 2016 and into the future.