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Diverse Property Careers

Diverse Property Careers

In part two of our series highlighting the wide variety of career paths within the property industry; we spoke with Karen Pepe, Manager Property and Buildings for Salisbury City Council.  

An extremely busy lady, Karen obligingly gave a few minutes of her time to describe her current role, her thoughts on working in local Government and her advice for aspiring property professionals.

Q1. Tell us what you do in your current role?

It’s a really diverse role - I manage land acquisitions and disposals, leasing of community land, easements, encumbrances and land development. My responsibilities now also include the management of our building maintenance portfolio and management of security for the council. This is a big job and includes graffiti management and anti-social behaviour etc.

My team has recently expanded and I face the new challenge of managing a bigger group, including a team of volunteers.

Q2. Tell us about your career progression in property?

Well I fell into it really. After leaving school, I started out in the real estate industry, at first working on reception, then moving into property management and sales. 

Next, as a mature age student I did a Bachelor of Business (Property), majoring in Valuation which I finished in my early 30s. I then started a family at the end point of my studies. I was pregnant at my graduation ceremony!

In 2002 I took my first steps into Local Government as a property consultant with Tea Tree Gully Council. I spent four years in that role.

Keen to move away from valuations and get into a management role, I moved to the Salisbury City Council in 2005, where I’ve been for 8 years now.

Q3. What do you enjoy about your current role?

What I like about working in local Government is its diversity. The asset base we work with is significant and we’re always looking for a commercial return, except where community assets are concerned. 

It’s also very challenging because I’m working within legislation. I enjoy thinking about the long term needs of an asset and the services it provides, taking demographics and a whole range of issues into consideration.  

In this job I’m continually learning and developing my skills. I’m also able to get out and about and I’m not stuck at my desk all day.

Q4. What are your thoughts on the local Government sector of the property industry?

I think Local Government plays a significant role in the property industry and the community and offers diversity that people may not be aware of.

Q5. Why do you think the property industry is a good career choice?

The property industry is so diverse and you can really make a difference in the community. I’ve been in many different aspects of the property industry and local government offers opportunities you can really sink your teeth into.  

My background in real estate gave me a solid base and helped develop some really valuable skills such as negotiating and sales.

Q6. If you could go back in time, what would you do differently in your career?

I would have gone to University earlier. If I’d had the opportunity before I started a family I would have considered working in the property industry overseas. 

Q7. What advice would you give to aspiring property professionals?

I think a lot of students don’t consider all of the options available, focussing on the more obvious choices. Explore the different sectors and roles available to you. This industry offers some really great opportunities locally and interstate.

I suggest networking early! Get talking with your peers and more experienced people in the industry. This is really important, especially for youngsters starting out in the industry. Get networking early in your career, as you may not have as much time for this later on, with family commitments etc.