Amber Roberts loves dealing with property, and got her start in the industry through a multinational organisation with one of the biggest commercial real estate portfolios in the world.
When did you first join the PM industry?
I started by doing a traineeship through a family-owned business in 2001.
Why did you join the PM industry?
My previous role was working for Westfield in Sydney and that is where I found my interest in property. At that stage, Westfield was only based in Brisbane and there were not a lot of opportunities in the retail leasing industry on the Gold Coast. I found a role in property management through a recruitment company and, not knowing a lot about residential management, I was interested to know more.
What were you doing before PM?
Working in reception and admin roles where I was able to learn my customer service skills. I worked for Westfield Parramatta prior to relocating to the Gold Coast and, in 2001, it was the biggest Westfield in the southern hemisphere, so it was extremely busy and taught me very quickly how to multi-task.
What would you like your next career step to be?
Being a general manager for such a large business, there are not too many other positions that would have as much potential as this role. Our directors Andrew and Greg Bell are always looking at ways to grow their business, so it would be great if the next step within my role here would be something on a national scale.
What piece of technology do you find the most useful for your business and why?
We have implemented Maintenance Manager in our business, which has been invaluable in terms of being able to track the maintenance jobs in our office. From a management level, we can see from the dashboard how many jobs are outstanding and how long it is taking to process a request. As we know, there are various reasons why maintenance takes longer than it should, and this program allows us to easily identify where the blockage is and rectify it.
What area of PM needs more training focused on it and why?
I believe that most property managers find claims of compensation through QCAT to be a daunting process; there are a lot of grey areas in the legislation that can be open to interpretation. Some claims for compensation can become quite involved, and if the property manager is unsure or not confident in dealing with this, then it is generally the owner that will lose out and not get all the compensation that they are entitled to.
What skills does a PM/BDM need to be successful?
The best skill a PM or BDM needs to be successful is the ability to build relationships. BDMs are better than most at this, as their business relies on building relationships, but for a PM it is a skill that most do not see the value in. Property managers by nature are very process-driven, which is needed in our industry, but rarely do they communicate well with owners and tenants about these processes. With all the talk of disturbers coming to our industry, it is imperative that we change the way we deliver our service, otherwise we will just make it easy for these disturbers to take over.
Where do you believe a PM’s responsibilities should start and end?
Our role is to manage property on behalf of our clients. Although it seems like it – and I’m sure that we have all worn these hats once or twice – we are not counsellors, building inspectors, financial planners, accountants or personal assistants. The expectations need to be set with our clients and tenants from the start in regards to the scope of our role. We can always go above and beyond when it is needed, but boundaries are important.
How do you deal with disgruntled and aggressive tenants?
The most important thing is to stay calm and always remain professional. Nobody should have to tolerate abusive behaviour and, if this occurs, it is okay to terminate a phone call or meeting if you advise the other party that their behaviour is not acceptable.
What would you be doing if you weren’t in the PM industry?
That’s a hard one. I’ve been doing this so long, I couldn’t imagine myself doing anything else. I would most probably still be doing something within the real estate industry, as I love dealing with property.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
The team I work with. We have about 26 staff in my office and, with the majority being women, I am so lucky that we have a fantastic culture and that they all get along so well. They all work in pods, but if someone needs help, there is always someone there to lend a hand. I have great support and mentors in Andrew and Greg Bell and I’m so lucky to have been given the opportunity to look after such a fantastic team.
What are the most stressful aspects of your job?
Having enough time in the day to get through everything. There is always a challenge in finding the balance of working on the business as opposed to working in the business.
How do you relax after a stressful day at work?
Spending time with my kids. Working long hours, there is a very small amount of time that I get to spend with them after work, so that is my time to ignore my phone and emails and just talk to them about their day. And a glass of wine always helps.
How would you describe a perfect property management day?
No one complaining about anything. I don’t think this has ever happened, especially in a business our size, but there is hope. Other than that, it is always great when my staff can have a laugh during the day and leave with smiles on their faces.