At first glance, a career in strata management may seem like a pedestrian career choice, but strata industry leaders are urging graduates and those looking for a new direction to sit up and take a look at an industry that is calling out for more people.
“We take care of some of the most beautiful and prestigious buildings in the most exciting new parts of Canberra, home to entire mini-communities, including apartments, hotels, retail and dining outlets, but we can’t find people to fill the positions available,” says Vantage Strata managing director Chris Miller.
Contrary to outdated beliefs, modern strata management is a sophisticated and complex business and unlike many industries right now, it’s booming.
“Many years ago, there might have been an argument that strata wasn’t the most scintillating of sectors,” says Chris. “But long gone are the days of simply looking after two or three-storey buildings and townhouses with a small number of residents, and the most complex issue at hand being the stair cleaning roster, and the key stakeholder was Betty and her long-suffering cat.”
He says the role of a strata manager isn’t a basic or simple one, and it’s not just another name for a property manager. Strata managers need to take care of myriad specialist services, from large-scale elevators and smart security and fire systems, to communal spaces with entertainment areas, fitness facilities and retail units for shops and eateries. They need to handle large budgets, juggle all number of specialist contractors, negotiate with stakeholders and run elaborate building maintenance programs.
Chris sites Canberra’s NewActon precinct as an example of the sort of work involved in modern strata management.
“NewActon is an innovative, contemporary mixed-use precinct that holds everything from art exhibitions and cultural events to acclaimed restaurants and designer boutiques,” he says. “It also has close to 1000 residents and an internationally renowned hotel that’s beloved by a heap of celebrities, as well as being the headquarters for the ACCC.
“What people may not have considered is that NewActon is composed of a collection of strata buildings. Being responsible for this type of asset requires smart handling by a huge mix of professionals. There’s nothing dull or boring about this kind of work. It’s a rewarding and diverse sector to be in.”
Vantage Strata’s Natalie Forno switched to strata management from a career in hospitality 18 months ago, and she loves her role as a strata manager.
“Hospitality was not giving me the income security and regular hours that I wanted, and I was looking for a new path,” she says. “A conversation with a friend of a friend led me to a career I had never considered, but my skills in hospitality matched really well.
“Every day is different. We juggle a range of priorities, from managing budgets for large complexes, to day-to-day operations and communicating with owners’ corporations and executives. Strata management requires so many skill sets that if you have developed expertise in your current career, they will transfer across.”
Natalie currently manages 17 properties covering 900 units.
“I use the same customer service principles that I used in hospitality,” she says. “Dealing with problems and helping solve issues is all part of the process. It was a big change at first, but once you get into it, it’s pretty good and I now have a career that is more immune to shocks such as COVID-19 – apartment buildings are not going anywhere.”
For more information, visit Vantage Strata.
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