Jarrod Smith does not fit the upper management mould. His journey to his position as Vantage Strata General Manager hasn’t been typical.
The 33-year-old, who hails from the NSW South Coast, insists there’s more than one pathway to reach any goal, and the one common denominator is hard work.
He left school in year 11 to take a job as a vehicle spray painter for a few years, getting into an industry he knew nothing about.
“I guess you could call me a high school dropout,” he laughs.
“I wanted to work and work hard. It comes from growing up in a family of hard workers.”
His enormous respect for his industrious parents is evident.
His father was a milkman and the breadwinner who worked six days a week.
“He would get up as early as 3 am for the commercial milk runs and work until about midday, then three days a week would also do private milk runs, delivering milk to residential doors from about 1 pm to 6 pm or 7 pm at night,” Jarrod recalls.
“They were long days. He worked hard to provide for our family.”
His mum stayed home to raise Jarrod and his older brother and sister.
“Our parents instilled in us the work ethic to which I attribute our success,” Jarrod says.
“We’re all successful in our own right.”
Today, his brother owns his own Gold Coast real estate company and his sister has a bookkeeping business.
Then there is Jarrod, who climbed the ladder to General Manager at a top tier firm – though some of the rungs weren’t quite linear.
“Mine was an obscure journey and not your typical ‘study business and economics’ pathway to upper management,” he says.
It didn’t take him long to glean all he could from the vehicle spray painting gig, and after a contract with a government department, he wandered onto what would become his true career path.
Jarrod has been in strata for about 13 years, beginning as a trainee in strata management. He started off working on smaller portfolios with smaller teams, onto medium and then larger portfolios and bigger teams.
Having identified his passion, he undertook numerous business, leadership and management courses. He moved from strength to strength, managing teams, to an entire office, to looking after offices interstate.
“You get the picture. I worked my way up,” he says.
“I wanted to toil; that desire came from growing up with a family that chose to work extra hard as their pathway to success, as opposed to pursuing tertiary education straight off the bat.”
From rookie to rising star, then future leader, Jarrod finally stepped into the GM role at Vantage Strata about six months ago. He is ultimately responsible for the experience of everyone dealing with the business, both internal and external.
But he’s not one to rest on his laurels. Up next: challenging the industry itself.
“Strata has always been seen as the dark arts of the real estate industry – it’s not spoken about, respected or viewed as a future career,” he says.
“A lot of the people I have worked alongside have fallen into it and they stay if it suits them, rather than there being a formal tertiary qualification for it like there is for law or accountancy. But I aspire to it becoming something people do see as something they can and want to study.”
Jarrod believes he’s part of a palpable shift in the industry that will see a wave of fresh blood to the ranks.
“We’re seeing more younger people being attracted to the industry,” he says.
“In Canberra, highrises are becoming a dominant force, rather than single dwellings – they’re the new ‘Aussie dream’. And younger generations are attracted to that; they want to be a part of that.”
Though Jarrod sports the sharp suits and groomed coif one expects from senior management, you need only catch him on a day off to see his employment pathway isn’t the only unconventional aspect of this GM.
In winter, he snowboards; in summer, he returns to his coastal hometown to bodyboard and hangs with the family. In between, he mountain bikes and does Muay Thai boxing. Oh, and if you spot DJ ‘Too Social’ at your local club or festival – that’s him.
“I am also expecting my first child any day now,” he says.
“So I am about to start a new journey of being a father. I know it will be hard work, but I have never been scared of that.”