Former engineer Sarah Cairns is proving herself to be a rising talent and was named Property Manager of the Year – Rookie at the 2013 Australian Real Estate Awards
In June, when Sarah Cairns received an email informing her she was a nominee for the Property Manager of the Year – Rookie award at the Australian Real Estate Awards, it was a complete shock.
“I hadn’t even realised I had been nominated and I got an email through saying I had been shortlisted for an award,” she says. “I sent it to my manager and she told me that she had nominated me. Being a finalist was an achievement in itself.”
Sarah received the accolade at the Australian Real Estate Awards, held in Sydney last month.
“It was surreal,” she says. “When I was up there speaking, I felt like I was looking down on myself, but I’m very happy to have received the award.”
Last month also marked one year since Sarah joined Realmark and started her career in property management after working for five years as a process engineer at Minara Resources in Perth.
“It was long hours. I did 13-hour shifts and worked eight days away and six days at home, so it was quite demanding and draining,” she says.
“About 18 months before I joined Realmark, I didn’t feel like I was being rewarded and felt like I needed a change. I didn’t want to be in engineering forever and I wasn’t enjoying the lifestyle any more. I had just recently got married and got a house, so I felt like I was missing out on a lot.”
Sarah’s husband, who worked in real estate, suggested she work in property management and after contemplating the idea for over a year, she applied to Realmark for a job.
Despite her having no experience, the Western Australian agency told her they were willing to train her.
“For the first five months, I was an assistant property manager and then, at the beginning of this year, I started my
own portfolio,” she says.
Sarah believes she could not have enjoyed the transition into property management had it not been for the team
“From the very beginning, they have been completely supportive, they’ve got so many experienced property managers
with such a wealth of knowledge and they’ve guided me along the whole way,” she says.
“Everyone in the company works together as a team and although it’s a fairly large company, everyone is like one
Sarah says she does not regret working in engineering since she has been able to transfer her skills to her
“One of the most important skills you learn as an engineer is problem solving, and this has definitely helped me deal with every problem I’m faced with and with figuring out the best way to solve it.
“Engineering is a very male dominated industry and I learned very quickly to toughen up and speak up for myself and I often had to convince people that I was capable of doing my job well.
“I also learned not to take things personally and this has definitely helped as a property manager because you’re always dealing with problems and complaints from tenants.”
Outside property management, Sarah is a keen triathlete, having competed in three Iron Man races in the past three years.
This month she will be racing in the Iron Man 70.3 World Championship in Lake Las Vegas, along with more than 1,800 local and international competitors.
For Sarah, triathlons and property management have much in common.
“In training, and in racing as well, you’re constantly dealing with obstacles or issues throughout the race – you have to overcome those obstacles and it’s rewarding at the end of the day.
“I see that as parallel to real estate, when you’re getting hundreds of complaints or things to deal with in property management.”