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How I Became A Property Manager

20th May 2022

The Post: Property Manager, Maple and May

The Post Holder: Deirdre Steele

No two days are ever the same for property manager Deirdre Steele.

Give a brief outline of your career to date.

After graduating from university, I moved to England and started my career with Sequence UK, a subsidiary of the Connells Group, where I managed a portfolio of residential units on behalf of the Co Operative Group. Later I joined Simon Brien Residential, again managing a variety of portfolios on behalf of owners of investment properties. 

With the aim of expanding my skillset further I moved to Colliers International in 2016; here I was responsible for a diverse portfolio of commercial properties throughout the UK including shopping centres, retail parks, retail parades and office space on behalf of local, national and international clients.   

What was your favourite subject at school?

I really enjoyed geography and biology and for a period thought about a career in nursing.  

Did you go on to further/higher education, if so what did you study and where?

I attended Queen’s University Belfast and completed an undergraduate degree in Environmental Planning and a Master’s Degree in Urban and Rural Design  

How did you get into your area of work?

It has been an interesting journey over the past 10 years. Prior to graduating I volunteered for the National Trust, shadowing a Building Surveyor overseeing works of various form on a number of listed buildings.

When I graduated in 2009, jobs within the property sector were limited due to the financial crisis, so in an effort to ensure my degree was not wasted I travelled to England in pursuit of a property related role and the rest is history.  I have been very fortunate to work for a variety of different businesses in various property management roles.   

Is this what you always wanted to do?

I have always had a keen interest in the built environment and particularly in mixed, shared spaces and the evolution of neighbourhoods.   

Were there any particular essential qualifications or experience needed?

Third level education and at least five years post qualification experience in the property field were required. 

What are the main personal skills your job requires?

As the role entails working with, and reporting to, multiple people, strong organisational, interpersonal, communicative and problem solving skills are needed. Being good with numbers and identifying projects which make economic sense also helps.

What does a typical day entail?

No two days are the same which keeps the job very interesting.  However, first thing in the morning I check my emails to see if there are any urgent queries I need to respond to.

Following this I join Team calls for updates from contractors on how works are progressing and managing agents to discuss any portfolio/accounting related queries. The focus then turns to updating reports, instructing works, authorising payments etc.    

What advice would you give anyone looking to follow a similar career path?

I would 100% say go for it. I am fortunate to be able to work alongside great people, colleagues in the office and those who are instructed externally because of their expertise, for example managing agents, building surveyors, valuation surveyors and contractors. As a result I have been afforded the opportunity to learn from these individuals who bring an array of skillsets and in doing so broadened my experience. 

The built environment is ever-evolving and with property/asset management no two days are the same, so there are plenty of pathways to explore within the property sector over the course of a career.        

If you weren’t doing this what would you like to do?

I think if I wasn’t doing this, I would still be working in a property related role and if I was 18 again perhaps I would go back and study building surveying. I really enjoy problem solving, identifying the cause of a building related issue and putting measures in place to have it corrected.   

What is the one piece of advice you would give to yourself on your first day?

Relax, enjoy the process and learn from everyone around you. Be self-driven and don’t be afraid to ask a question.

Describe your ideal day off.

Either spending time with my family and little niece, or going for a hike with my husband with a backpack filled with tea and sandwiches.

And finally, what’s the key to any successful job search?

Find a career you are passionate about.

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