Inside property development

Can you please explain the day to day activity of a property developer?

We work across everything from acquisitions and feasibilities through to project vision, design, architecture, lifestyle attributes and branding to then tackling how we best sell the project before moving on to managing the actual construction of the project in question.

On any given day I would talk to agents to look for new development sites, review all site opportunities to match vision and development criteria.

I then perform feasibility studies if our vision and rough criteria for the site match with the site opportunity in question. We look at the location and think about what type of development (i.e. residential, commercial or hotel etc.) would suit the area and lifestyle of residents.

Feasibility studies see me meeting with town planners, council, architects and real estate agents to further explore all opportunities and the potential development schemes which could be appropriate for the site.

Once we are actively designing a project I meet with a range of consultants from architects, engineers, town planners and branding/creative agencies to help craft our vision from concept to completion.

I’m also often attending sales and marketing meetings to talk about marketing and sales strategies – meeting real estate agents, marketeers, various sales channels to market and sell our development.

What did you study and where?

Bachelor & Master of Architecture in University of Melbourne

Could you tell us a bit about the differences between various specialties in the industry, and why you focused on development?

Each profession within the property industry looks after a different stage in the property process, many with their own unique technical disciplines. For example a town planner or engineer would look at a project in concept stage, while a fund manager or financier would look at how to finance projects. Developers oversee the entire development process once the plans are in place and help to direct the vision of the project, while project marketing and sales consultants look after selling the apartments either off-the-plan or once they are built.

As a developer, we are often the ‘glue’ that sticks all of these areas of expertise together. We consult with many different property consultants along the way to ensure that everyone is working together to collectively deliver an incredible development.

The reason I chose to pursue a career as a developer is because we are exposed to so many different elements of the development process, dealing with many different disciplines and lifecycles of a project so there is never a dull moment!

Can you tell us a bit about your progression from university into the industry – where was your first job and what did your role entail?

My first job was at a large architecture firm in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. I was assisting one of the associate architects, and through this role I was asked to create schematic designs for the senior architects as they were keen to see some fresh ideas from a young architect student.

I then founded Beulah International with my business partner Jiaheng Chan in 2012, with the intention to bring the vision of exemplary architecture back into developing. I had seen all too often that developers spoke with the language of dollars and sense, rather than design outcomes, often at the detriment to the end product. I wanted to bring my knowledge of architecture into the role of a developer and help create a balance between aesthetics and commercial success.

Now the Director of a company at only 27, what tips can you give about standing out and succeeding in the industry.

Lots of dedication, commitment and hard work. Always approach things passionately with a spirit of excellence no matter how big or small your role is, be bold, take risks, believe in yourself, stay humble/down to earth and always be eager to learn, be creative and innovative.

Graduate vacancies in property development are some of the most sought after in the industry,  what do you look for in young graduates looking to find their feet?

Motivated, eager to learn, intelligent/creative, driven, hard-working, excellence, passionate, responsible, no “diva” attitudes, with a mindset of no jobs are too big/small, problem solvers not problem givers.

What should they come to an interview prepared to talk about?

What they’re passionate about and why, past successes and failures, and more importantly, what they’ve learnt from those failures. Don’t think about perks and holidays, focus on learning and putting in the hard work. You will be rewarded for your hard work and dedication by being attentive and passionate.

What is a typical graduate position like? 

Graduate programs at property firms are a fantastic training ground for future careers as they usually provide placements in many different facets of the business. Many go on to hire their grad students after the placement is over so they are a great starting point for young hopefuls wanting to break into the industry.

 Is there anything you wish you did differently?

If I could do anything differently I would have started to expose myself to the industry much earlier on while still at university. I would have immersed myself in more work experience and voluntary placements in uni holidays so that by the time I had finished uni I could be ‘work ready’.

Finally, are there any industry misconceptions you can iron out?

That property development is a quick and easy money-making venture. The truth is there’s a lot of hard work that goes into managing risks and dealing with unexpected issues in order to still deliver the vision from start to finish.

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