School of Property, Construction & Project Management
An interview with Anna Thomas – Alumni of the Graduate Diploma and Masters in Business Management, Business, Management, Marketing, and Related Support Services
Where are you working now?
“Chief Operating Officer of Stockdale & Leggo ”
What is your role and what activities does your role entail on a daily basis?
“I am the Chief Operating Officer and am responsible for setting the strategic direction for Stockdale & Leggo. I stepped into the role due to my husband’s ill health which has been personally and professionally challenging. This involves setting and holding the vision, developing the growth strategy, ensuring we have the right technology infrastructure and rolling out innovative group marketing strategies which achieve cut through in a tough industry. I’m actively involved in how we take our products to market as real estate isn’t just about selling houses. It’s about surrounding our service with other products which people need when they’re buying or renting a house. My high levels of accountability and influence can be seen through initiatives and results such as the implementation of our financial arm, S&L Financial Logic which was an industry first; an ‘all in one’ complimentary customer experience service called ‘The Whole House’; One Bill; Fleet Discounts; our own Stocky’s Employees Benefits Program; Stockdale & Leggo Healthcare; and a Property Maintenance service. All of these additional products add value to our clients and extend the value we are able to offer them far beyond the traditional ‘transactional’ approach to real estate other brands take. ”
What do you like best about your role?
“I love that I have been able to set a vision and push a positive cultural change through the organisation, despite difficult circumstances stepping into the role due to my husband’s ill health. I am great at leading, mentoring and managing people and genuinely love feeling like I am making a difference. We have just under 1000 people in the overall group and I take that responsibility very seriously. Our industry needs what I do. Over 16,000 people leave the industry per year and it has a terrible reputation. People join and they’re given a desk, with no training. Real estate agents sell people’s biggest assets which has massive financial implications for that family and yet the the focus is on the agent and their results rather than the seller or buyer. We have worked hard to innovate and change this, providing products which go beyond the transaction.”
What attracted you to your role?
“ Due to the ill health of my husband, I’ve had to step in to run an organisation, without any industry experience and that has been tough. I’ve received bullying and harassment from male franchisees who have been in the industry for 20+ years. I’ve been told to ‘get back in the kitchen where I belong’ and being Peter’s wife, I was criticised for how I looked and what I wore. At first I took it personally but now I’m grateful for it because it’s made me tougher and I’ve grown as a leader because of it. I made the executive decision to let my results speak for themselves. I’ve achieved all the milestones I outlined between our AGM’s and the challenge now is to set new milestones for me to achieve in the next 12 months. ”
Tell us about your career journey so far.
“Anna Thomas has recently stepped into the role of Chief Operating Officer within the Stockdale & Leggo group and brings with her a wealth of experience in sales, customer service, training and recruitment from a range of blue chip companies such as Optus, Colonial State Bank, AXA Australia, Hewlett Packard and Drake International.”
Tell us about the challenges and triumphs you have faced as a female in a male-dominated industry
“One of my core values is integrity and a part of that for me is standing up for what you believe in. When I first stepped into the role at the company, I was judged mercilessly. I experienced people commenting on the way I looked, and telling me that I ‘should get back to the kitchen where I belonged’. As confronting as this was, I decided to stand up and tackle the issue head on, thus cementing my role as a respected leader in the organisation but also stomping out the bullying culture. I called a meeting of the franchisees and addressed each of the comments that were made. I acknowledged their reservations and requested that if I was to be judged, that it be done on the results I deliver to the organisation. I also acknowledged that while I didn’t have industry experience, I did have corporate experience and business acumen, and that what the company had been doing previously wasn’t working, so in order to grow and make all our businesses more profitable, we needed to try something different. And I was that something different. And I believe my results have more than spoken for themselves. ”
If you could say one thing to young females looking to enter the industry – what would it be?
“To back themselves, not underestimating their skills and abilities. I have a vision for Stockdale & Leggo, that by 2025, 50% of franchises will be owned and operated by women with 50% of the top performers of the group being women as well. I’m not going to pretend that you won’t come up against any diversity – I have experienced it myself and I know how damaging it can be to your confidence, however, overcoming it just proves your strength and ultimately, your self-confidence in your abilities will grow if you back yourself. Real estate is a dynamic, fast-paced industry and we need women to get involved because they have a lot to benefit from and I look forward to the impact that young women will make on the field.”
Read more about the International Women’s Day event: Women Building Futures: Careers in Property, Construction and Project Management here: