I was a young mum and had my first son at 20. When I look back on it, it was a case survival – I had a baby I wanted to create a good life for. I remember thinking what do I want to be, who do I want to be? Not long after, I started my qualification in real estate. At the time you had to attend two nights a week which was a juggle with my young son, then I started at the bottom in a boutique agency in Port Macquarie who specialised in holiday letting and had a big rent roll.
I had some great mentors in that business who encouraged you to be who you wanted to be. I’m a strong personality and they really embraced that and I just grew. I went from property officer to property manager and eventually a sales consultant. I ended up Rookie of the Year in that office and then moved to Ray White in Port Macquarie to work with Mark Carter for about four years. An opportunity came to buy my own business, which I did and ran that for eight years with my husband, who is also a real estate agent.
By this time I had two small children and my older boy we were approached to sell our rent roll and the business. My husband said, “What do you want to do?” I said, “We can go wherever we want. Let’s get a great job, let’s go!”
We considered Brisbane initially, being a warm climate and a little more city. I applied for a role with Ray White Corporate in Brisbane and Emily Sim hired me for Sydney instead. I was already qualified to be what I am in New South Wales, which helped, but it was still a big move because I’d spent my entire life in this very insular country town that knew everything about me. I remember the first day I caught the bus into the city, I thought you spoke to everyone on the bus! And from the day I hit this place, I have loved everything about it – I love the diversity and the opportunity and what it does for our kids. It’s so crazy because most people do the exact reverse of what I’ve done and made a change to a slower pace.
Even though I enjoyed working in the corporate team, it made me realise how much I missed being at the coal face of the transaction. I’m all about changing the way people see property management, changing the way women are perceived in real estate, and excelling at being a female auctioneer. I don’t want girls to grow up thinking this is not a career for them. Real estate is my career, my craft. I love every bit of it. When someone says no to me, that’s just when it all starts. I think, ‘how can we show them, without being rude or disrespectful, that we know what we’re talking about better than anyone else?’
I’m incredibly fortunate Richard Harding, Geoff Smith and the entire Lower North Shore team are so engaged. It’s all about the culture, best practices and how can we do better. As soon as I started working here I just saw the opportunities and saw that the passion I have can be supported. We want to help younger people see this as a real career move. This is my career and this is what I do, I manage people’s investments and I help those investments become profitable. It’s a relationship.
If you’re young and starting out you’ve got to make connections, to be calling people, building relationships and going to all the training. Don’t be afraid of the word no-no is just another way of starting. And when no happens, all kinds of things change. You’ve got to be tough. Some of the best advice, from a female perspective, is we tend to be naturally emotional, but in this game, you’ve got to be able to handle the knocks because the women who master that rejection actually end up far more brilliant than anyone else in this game. I do think you’ve got to play hard and you’ve got to work hard, so you’ve got to be able to have that balance. If you want it, keep going even when you think you can’t.
I have the most amazing, supportive, committed husband. He’s given up on what he wanted, which was that coastal lifestyle with great waves so that I can do this. I want to provide a really enjoyable childhood for my children and then get to the part where my husband and I can really love what we’ve done. My son Jack is 19 now and has just become a real estate agent. Then Tilly who is nearly six and Nixon who is four. We’re looking forward to having them at the age where we can travel and coach them and show them things. Weekends are about soccer, sport, and swimming lessons. I just love watching them grow.