CRE Success: The Podcast, S01E01

Luana Kenny, m3property


property, commercial real estate, people, managing director, residential development, podcast, success, cre, cre success, role, achieved, company, business, client, industry, head, firm



Welcome to CRE Success: The Podcast, where we help people working in commercial real estate achieve their professional goals. Check us out online at CRESuccess.co/podcast and now here's your host, Darren Krakowiak.


Darren Krakowiak:

Hello, and welcome to CRE Success: The Podcast. This is season one, episode one. My name is Darren Krakowiak. I'm the founder of CRE Success and I'll also be your host. 

If you don't know me, I've spent 19 years in commercial real estate. Over my career I've worked in leadership positions at a couple of big global firms. And I've also worked for Australian advisory firms earlier in my career. 

My experience in the industry in a range of positions along with my past life as a commercial radio announcer means that producing a podcast about commercial real estate success feels like the perfect passion project for me. 

The purpose of this podcast is to provide useful information for people working in commercial real estate, who are looking to advance their personal and professional development. Before we get started, given it is episode one, please allow me a couple of minutes just to note, a couple of housekeeping items to set the scene, and so you know what to expect. 

Firstly, we promise that each episode will go for no longer than 30 minutes. That's enough time to deliver heaps of value, but also not so long that you can't consume the content during one short cardio session, perhaps while you're preparing dinner, or during your commute. 

Secondly, before COVID-19 when I was planning this podcast, I intended to use a studio to record each of the episodes. But the social distancing measures that have been put in place since means that I've had to record it from home speaking to guests via zoom. The end result is that the audio quality isn't as good as I would have liked. But I do hope that the value that we deliver in each episode means that you can forgive us for the less than perfect production quality. 

Thirdly, you'll notice a couple of sponsors that we will be recognizing during each episode. They're the only advertisers that you'll hear on this first season of CRE Success: The Podcast. I would like to personally thank Hub Australia and Unispace for their financial support. It's helped us cover the cost of advertising, online hosting and production costs for the podcast. Thank you to both companies for backing this project early in its inception, and for supporting the professional development of people working in commercial real estate. 

With all that being said, I'm really pumped to be here. I can't wait to share some great interviews with you. So let's get this show on the road. 

I'll be back in 30 seconds to introduce Luana Kenny, the managing director of M3property. She's our first ever guest here on CRE Success: The Podcast. 




Luana Welcome to CRE Success: The Podcast.


Luana Kenny:

Thanks Darren. Great to be here.


Darren Krakowiak:

It's great to have you. So, the first thing that we do in our podcast is we ask people to step into the virtual elevator and to give us their elevator pitch to tell us who they are so Luana who are you?


Luana Kenny:

Well I’ve been in the property industry for 19 years now having graduated from RMIT and the entire time I've been at m3property which I know is fairly unusual these days. But I've had 19 years there and have moved through the industry as a valuer, starting as an assistant valuer and ultimately ending up in my current role as the managing director of Victoria.


Darren Krakowiak:

Great story, so what made you decide to do real estate at RMIT?


Luana Kenny:

I originally wanted to be a real estate agent. And we moved around a lot as children. And so I just loved the open houses and looking at all the different properties. And so that was probably the path that I wanted to take and then as most people do when they get to year 11, and 12, they go through the course guide as to what might be out there for university, and that's how I came across the property degree at RMIT.


Very good. So before we talk about the reason why you've stayed in m3property for so long, I think it'd be good just for everyone to understand a little bit about m3property’s business. So it does focus on commercial real estate valuations, but you actually specialize in Residential Valuation. So you can tell us a little bit about your specialization and within the context of m3property’s business.


Correct. So, we're a property and advisory firm and We've been around for a long time in different forms over 50 years. And we do specialize in the commercial side of things. And more particularly, I specialize in residential development. And my role over the years has been assisting clients in looking at townhouse developments, apartment developments in land subdivisions. So I've had a variety from high end townhouse and apartment developments through the master plan communities that comprise in excess of 3000 lots, Town Center, school sites, etc. So, it's certainly kept me busy, particularly over the last 10 years with where the residential development market has gone.


So, you've been at m3property for I think, 19 years, you said and as you acknowledged, it is a little bit unusual for people to stay in their first job for that period of time. So, what do you think the main reason is that you've never left m3property?


Look, I think people leave their positions and seek alternate career paths for a variety of reasons. Some of those have been to get a promotion, to obtain a higher salary, or just simply to look at what other aspects are out there. At m3property, I've always had those opportunities. So I've always been recognized for the hard work that I've put in. And so I've been elevated. I've been rewarded by salary. Not that I think that's the only thing, I think there's a lot more to it. But also, I've had some great mentors and continue to have some great mentors at m3property, and I've always enjoyed my role as a valuer. And so I could have done what I'm doing at another firm, and I've had opportunities over the years at looking at other firms. And what it really comes down to is I've always enjoyed the people that I've worked with, and I felt that that was always the best course for my career, is to maintain my position at m3property and work my way up, which is exactly what I did. 


You mentioned what's kept you staying at m3property. But for someone out there who perhaps is thinking about leaving their company, what would you say the main reasons are to stay versus jumping ship,


There's probably three things that I can really point to. And that is, it's the satisfaction that you get of watching yourself grow within the company, but also watching the company grow and change over time. And I look back on my time at m3property, and how much we've grown and the direction that we've taken, the people that have come and gone, the systems that we've put in place, is that I've had the advantage of seeing that evolve, and you only get to see those things really evolve in an intimate detail when you're there. The other thing that I've found is the reward with being loyal, that I'm naturally just quite a loyal person. And so I've had that satisfaction and that reward of being loyal with the company. And so in terms of how I felt, I feel that I've had a lot of career satisfaction, with being able to do that. The other thing is the connections that you build that property is very people focused and you develop relationships and you can still develop relationships as you move through different companies, but the connections that you've that you build over time with being somewhere for so long, it's not the same connections that you build if you move every 12 months, two years, three years. I've made some great friends along the journey and they'll be lifetime friends, but I've also had that ability to build the connections with relevant mentors within the business.


I guess for you, it's now resulted in you becoming the head of Victorian at m3property, which is a fantastic achievement, so I can tell us a little bit more about your current role.


Sure. So I basically probably wear two hats, and that first one you mentioned is that I have recently been appointed as the managing director for the Victorian office. And so that really is working with others on a day to day operations, making sure things run smoothly. But also there's a strategic element, which does give me a little bit of a buzz because you're looking at the short and long term goals, you've got a role to play in implementing those relevant strategies and working alongside some pretty great minds that we've got in the company. The other role that I currently also hold is to head up our residential development team. And what I like about that component is it's quite client focused and the liaison that I have with clients and having been somewhere for 19 years, you certainly establish a loyal client base and understand the different projects so it allows me to keep I suppose, in the business and on the business, both of those roles, which is something I really enjoy, 


So how long were you head of residential development before you also started worrying the second half of being the managing director in Victoria?


So I became a director of m3property in 2010. And then became national director of residential development about three years ago, and then ultimately became managing director in late November of 2019. So in terms of being head of residential development in Victoria probably done that for 10 years now, and more recently national for the last two to three years.


So you had some departmental leadership experience, both at the state level and the national level, but of course, taking over as the managing director of m3property, is, I guess, an even more visible role given that you are the head of the office here in Melbourne. So what are some of the things that you did to prepare for your current role in terms of taking on that additional responsibility?


I don't think you ever really prepare for it, you learn on the job, so to speak, and I'm still learning and I think the great thing About m3property that I've got an excellent team that surrounds me and helps me but in terms of what I did, I realized that I needed to understand the broader business a lot better understand what makes different things tick. And so I dug pretty deep in understanding the background to how everything works, the ins and the outs, the P&L, all of that, but also understanding different sectors. And whilst I had an understanding of the various sectors within the market, it's more important now that I wear multiple hats and really understand what's going on in the wider market and having a working knowledge of everything. So it's fair to say that I did a fair bit of reading. I did a fair bit of asking of questions. Yep, I continue to do that. But, you are right, that I have maintained leadership roles along the way, but it was probably making sure that I understood it. How to broaden that and lead the company rather than a single team.


Because I guess one of your roles now is to speak to the media about the Victorian property market, not just about the residential market, but also about the office market and the industrial market and the retail market. So you've got to have that base level of knowledge that perhaps you didn't have to have before. 


Absolutely, yep. And you've got to be across it. And look, I obviously have an interest in property. So it's much easier to be across all of that. But you do divert your time to other things, not just to focus on what your original sector was, but however, maintaining that, you know, I'm on top of my sector, which is what I'm passionate about. So that's not hard to keep on top of when you when you've got an interest.


A couple of months after you've got your feet under the desk Coronavirus is here. How much of the preparation that you did had to be, I guess, put on ice or how much additional work did you have to do to deal with this unprecedented crisis that we are currently in? 


Well, I have to say might be getting a lot more prepared for that to come. And I certainly wasn't prepared. And I didn't have any time to prepare. But I haven't done it alone. I've had great support from our HR team, and also our CEO that has kept on top of all the different initiatives. And I think that's the most important that I've seen that I've realized coming out of these or coming through Coronavirus is you don't have to do anything alone, that it's about surrounding yourself with the right people and the right network support. So, it's been challenging, it's been emotional. And you've had to try and understand things that don't make sense. And so no amount of preparation, I think, was ever going to prepare me for that. And so how I've achieved what I've been able to do, as I said, is to have that team and that support around me. 


So I sort of hear, Luana, that one of the messages that I would take from you becoming Managing Director of m3 Is that if anyone is reluctant or feeling unsure about taking on additional responsibility, they should be reassured by the fact that there is support available. That having a great team around you really helps you succeed as a leader.


Absolutely. And like all humans, you doubt yourself and you aren't too sure how you actually landed somewhere. But when you look back and you reflect on what you've done, if you've worked hard to get somewhere, you start to realize that you can back yourself and that things aren't always going to go down the right path. You're not always going to have the answers and I tell me what over the last month is lots of answers that I haven't had been able to have. But you've just got to think through it and consider it…consider all the different options and then back yourself with the way that you're going to go. 


I couldn't agree more. So, let's shift gears a little bit, and talk about your favorite thing about working in real estate.


I'm quite passionate about what I do and I like the wins. I like when you get a new client a lot when you're able to assist a client in achieving the outcomes that they want to achieve. And that actually gives me a real buzz. And I like that I get to work with a variety of peoples and when I say work with a variety of people that's outside of the company, and as I've said before, is that I've built up quite a loyal and established client base. And so you get the intimate details about what they're doing on the property front. And it's a bit of a corny word, but you do watch the journey that they go on. I've been involved in subdivisions right from the start, and I'm still involved in those subdivisions. And it's amazing that when you go back to them to do a new stage or to have a look just how they've developed and that you are a part of that development in some way. And I think that that's my favorite thing is just being a part of it all.


So if I could flip the coin and ask you what's the hardest part of working real estate or maybe specifically being a valuer?


There's probably a couple of elements. And the first one is people are invested emotionally with their property. And sometimes you deliver a result that's not their expectation. And when they are so vested in something that it people can turn aggressive, not in a physical sense, obviously, but certainly with words. And so you've just got to listen, to what they've got to say. But at the end of the day, you do disappoint people. And that's just how it is.


And maybe we can just explain for for… the listener. In valuations, obviously, some of your clients will have an expectation of the number that they want to reach in terms of the value but you've got to rely on actually what you believe is the real value based on evidence, based on the market, based on your your cash flow projections, and sometimes the two do not meet.


Absolutely, especially when the market has gone through a bit of a rough patch. And at the moment, we're going through uncharted waters that you know everyone's trying to predict what's currently happening in the market and there's no sales evidence, but using the residential development sector that really through 2018, 2019. It was a weak market. And so there's not a lot of sales. And so you're trying to value on the basis of market sentiment and understanding where dated sales might land. And so when you don't have those sales, and the expectation is A for the client, and you're at B, it's just been able to articulate and work through the differences and quite often, you just can't close the gap and it is what it is.


And the second one?


And the second one is just around that sometimes, evaluation is just seen as a process. Often we’re the last to be engaged. And if I can use probably the mortgage space as an example, is that people have got everything implies they've got their permits, they've got their plans, etc. And then they've gone to get their funding, and they need a valuation. And so quite often people don't want to pay for your expertise, because it's just the final piece of the puzzle, but not realizing that we're actually probably one of the most important pieces of the puzzle, because without our knowledge and expertise, you can't get funding. And so to be able to shift people's thinking and understanding has been a big challenge for the industry.


And one thing you mentioned there, which I thought was interesting was about emotion. And my perception has always been that, because we work in commercial real estate, we don't have to deal with as much emotion as people who work in residential real estate, as in selling people's homes. But we find that actually there is a bit of emotion because of the passion that people have for the projects that they're working on.


Absolutely. Like, it’s, I deal with people who see it as a business, but then this has been people's lives for four or five years, and they've gotten to a point where they're ready to go. And unfortunately, you haven't been able to meet their expectations or see the project in the same way that they see it because you're an independent party. And that can be pretty hard on, on some people. 


I guess one other thing I want to ask Luana, is independent party, right. So whether you're employed by the bank, or whether you're employed by the developer, the outcome should be the same in terms of the valuation.


Absolutely. At the end of the day, you are an independent advisor and at m3property that's something we really pride ourselves on is the independence and whether you're doing it for mortgage purposes, internal considerations, the number is the number, the sales are the sales, and the ultimate outcome is what you truly believe in. He's the right outcome. And so regardless of whether someone wants more or less, normally it's more…you've just got to call it as you see it.


I'd like to talk now louder about your own success habits, because I think there'd be many people who would be looking at you and someone that you're relatively young age has achieved so much in our industry. I'd like to ask you about what you've deliberately and consistently done that contributes to your own success.


It's difficult to say, because I feel like 19 years has flown by and sometimes I sit there and think, Wow, how have I achieved all this? But I have worked pretty hard. And given that I've had a very keen interest in doing what I've done, it does at times come a little bit more naturally say to myself than others, and it's not to say I've worked extremely hard. I've done 60, 70 hour weeks, I ensure that every product that he's sent out has been done to the best of my ability, and I've dotted the Is and crossed the T's. And I think that's just the thing is that it's about, I've always pride taking pride in the work that I've done, and the quality is second to none in terms of being able to deliver that report. And I think, in my view, that's probably what has assisted me getting to where I've gotten to is the pride that I've taken to do the work along the way.


So, if you could give one piece of advice to someone who's at the start of their real estate career, what would it be?


It's probably don't be in a rush. That's one thing that I learned very early on. And one of my mentors said that when I was quite young, and I think I'd gotten qualified, and probably 12 months after being a qualified valuer, like most young people, you want to be running the company within 12 months or two years, and it's just not reality. And, so, I'll never forget when someone said to me, you've got your entire life to get somewhere. Don't miss the in between parts. And so listen to people take the different opportunities. And don't be in a rush. Because if you want to get somewhere, you'll ultimately get there in your own way. And there's a lot to learn along the way. And if you get there quick, you miss out on those learnings.


So you mentioned a mentor there. And obviously, you've worked with some great leaders over your 19 years at m3property. What do you think is one attribute that makes a great leader?


I think it's probably understanding, that at times, I have struggled with people's perceptions of things, the way people do things. You can't always understand why someone just won't do what you do. And I think it comes down to that characteristic that you just have to be understanding. And if you can see different points of view that everyone comes at things differently and you can listen to how people are feeling what People are thinking, then you develop empathy. And you develop that ability to accept that people have different values and different paths and different wants. And so whilst you might not understand everyone, you can attempt to understand their position.


Well, before we go Luana, I do want to ask you about female leadership because women are becoming less uncommon in leadership positions in the commercial real estate sector here in Australia, and some great progress has been made, particularly over the last 10 years, but of course, there's still a long way to go. So, given your leadership position in our industry, what advice would you have specifically for women who aspire to be future leaders?


Probably my advice is to speak up, step up, take whatever opportunities are in front of you. And don't be afraid to say what you're thinking because women come at different issues. Problems, thought differently and with a different angle. And it's really important for everyone to speak up and be heard.


So no, sorry,


I was just gonna say I always provided that plot that platform to be heard. And I had male champions in in the firm that allowed me to be heard. And so I took that opportunity. So if you have that opportunity, take it.


What advice would you give to decision makers in companies who are not promoting women as fast as perhaps they should be into senior leadership positions?


Don't ever underestimate the balance. there having the right balance with the different people, regardless of their gender, will always make for better decisions.


There’s that word balance. I think balance for better was the International Women's Day slogan this year if I'm not mistaken.


Oh, okay. There you go.


Darren Krakowiak:

Luana, really great chat. We've heard about hard work, patience, empathy. Really. write messages for people who are looking to succeed in commercial real estate and in real estate in general. Thanks so much for being here on CRE Success: the podcast.


Luana Kenny:

Thanks, Darren All the best. 



For more information about our guests visit cresuccess.co/podcast. And now a final thought from Darren Krakowiak.


Darren Krakowiak:

Thank you once again to Luana for being our first ever guest on CRE Success: the podcast. 

In each of the 10 episodes of this first season, I'll be interviewing people who work in commercial real estate have achieved success and are willing to share their experience with us. 

Some upcoming guests include a state head of leasing for a global commercial real estate services firm, the founder of Australia's leading premium flexible space provider, the Asia Pacific head of corporate real estate for the world's largest advertising firm, the Asia Pacific head of a global design firm who previously worked for Australia's leading construction infrastructure and property company, and the host of the longest running and most successful commercial real estate radio show in the world who also runs his own commercial real estate firm. 

This is the program which is made especially for people who work in commercial real estate in Asia Pacific, are committed to professional development, and are determined to fast track their career trajectory. 

If you enjoyed this episode, I hope that you will subscribe to the podcast, leave us a five star review, and tell your colleagues and peers in the industry to listen. 

If you would like to be the first to hear about the release dates and the guest lineup on CRE Success: the podcast you need to visit our website at CRESuccess.co and while you're there, register for the mailing list. When you do that, you'll also receive a free eBook called The Five Ps of Commercial Real Estate Success. This is available for free for a limited time only when you register via our website CRESuccess.co 

You can also connect with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. We're @CRESuccess

And if you'd like to see regular content that is designed to help people working in commercial real estate achieve success more quickly, make sure you look me up on LinkedIn and YouTube. 

Well, that's a wrap. As I said, we'll be keeping each episode to a maximum of 30 minutes so you can get on with whatever it is that you have to do next. Thanks so much for listening, and I will speak to you soon.


Voiceover: Thanks for listening to CRE Success: The Podcast. If you enjoyed this episode, make sure you subscribe to us on your favorite podcast platform and be sure to leave us a five-star review. For more information about the show, just check the show notes on your podcast app or visit us online at CRESuccess.co

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