School of Property, Construction & Project Management
An interview with Charlotte Coleman – Alumni of the Property and Valuation Undergraduate degree.
Where are you working now?
What is your role and what activities does your role entail on a daily basis?
“Assistant Development Manager. The role is significantly diverse. Managing and coordinating project consultants and contractors so that a development gets off the ground is the main focus. Yet there are so many other elements depending on the stage of a project that you need to be across. I work closely with marketing and sales agents, valuers, lawyers, art consultants, owners corporations.. the list goes on. There is never a dull moment or a quiet day.”
What was your favourite part of your degree?
“I enjoyed that the degree was essentially planned from first to fourth year, with all subjects defined so as you knew you had a direction for where the degree would take you and that there weren’t any unnecessary subjects. Of course going on exchange overseas was the absolute pinnacle though, i would suggest doing it to everyone studying.”
What do you like best about your role?
“The diversity is great and the small company factor. I am exposed to a lot of different elements of projects and have been given significant responsibility quite early on in my career. I love the journey and process of a project and seeing it evolve over time. There is great satisfaction in seeing the final product.
I love how diverse it is, and the relationships and synergies created from projects. It is a significantly collaborative industry and by being in small firm you get that exposure to working with senior leaders within companies when usually you could be another couple of rungs down.”
What attracted you to your role?
“The fact that the company wanted someone to grow with them was an endearing factor. SMA was willing to take on someone with limited experience in the hope that they would easily adapt and grow with the company, but also acknowledged that they were open to new and young ideas. The company was also working on some amazing projects which i definitely wanted to be a part of.”
What is most important to you when looking for a job?
“I know it is somewhat limiting but for starting out I find the company size important as you are able to be exposed to a broader aspect of the company and what it does quite quickly as Although i wasn’t going to be picky when i was going for my first job, any company willing to give a young student a go and an opportunity to grow was all i was after.”
Tell us about your career journey so far.
“I knew that to get a job you needed to prove you had some experience but also show real passion for the industry. I had six years experience in hospitality, but there’s only so many transferable skills. I was ready to give out two hundred resumes and just offer my services for free. The first place I went to was a local town planning firm as i new the importance of town planning knowledge within property development. I just asked whether they would take me for a week of experience but they offered me part time work on the spot! I was there for six months. I never ended up having to go and face all of those rejections, but I was prepared to in order to gain experience.
A job came up on the RMIT employment portal for an Assistant Development Manager. If I had written myself a job description in first year, this was it. SMA Projects was a small property development firm and everything I was looking for. I tried not to get my hopes up and applied. They didn’t even have a website at the time, so you’re trying to prepare yourself for an interview for a company you don’t know anything about. The interview process went really well. Within ten days of the two interviews I had started the job. I’ve now been working for them for two and a half years having worked and continuing to on some amazing residential projects within 5km of Melbourne.”
Tell us about the challenges and triumphs you have faced as a female in a male-dominated industry
“I never had any worry about being female going into the industry, nor felt that it was going to limit me in any way. In a sense its a benefit being the minority or point of difference in a company, and if you can embrace that and gain some confidence from the fact that you can bring a different edge, then there is no reason for it to remain a challenge.
That being said, when visiting construction sites where the occurrence of females is very rare it can be sometimes intimidating, but if you remain confident in yourself and don’t let it bother you, the insecurities quickly fall away. ”
If you could say one thing to young females looking to enter the industry – what would it be?
“Don’t hesitate. Being female is not a limitation, it is something to embrace and use to your advantage, don’t let it hold you back or stop you from doing something you are passionate about.”