Welcome to the Propic Pioneer Q&A with Leanne Pilkington, CEO, at Laing+Simmons.
Leanne started her real estate journey at the age of 12, answering the phone in her father’s real estate office. Having now worked for 40 years in real estate, Leanne still enjoys the dynamic industry, and all its challenges and new opportunities.
Over to you Leanne...
Q. What do you like most about your current job at Laing & Simmons?
I like being in a position to make decisions, implement new ideas, and move things forward. I always like to be thinking about what's next. And so being the final decision maker is good, because it means that you don't have anybody sort of stifling your creativity in what you can do. And I also really like the variety of work that I do, everyday is different.
Q. What excites you most about the real estate industry?
Real estate impacts everybody. Whether you're buying or selling or renting, everybody needs a roof over their head. So it is something that impacts everybody's interests. And, there are just some great people in the real estate industry that I really enjoy working with.
Q. What do you remember about the first property you tried to rent/buy?
So the first property I bought was an investment property when I was in my mid-20s. And then when I got married four years later, I moved into it. I remember it was $148,000, and we spent a lot of time renovating. Every weekend you'd find us working in the garden or repainting.
I love that house. Actually, I've only lived in two houses in the 30 years I have been married. I love that first house because it was small, and it was manageable. Gardens and housework did not take a lot of time. Renovating was relatively easy, because it was a small house.
Q. What got you into the real estate industry?
I started working with my dad as a 12-year-old, answering phones in his real estate office. I kept working with dad until I finished high school, and then I started full time. After high school, I decided I wanted to be a school teacher. While waiting for uni to begin, I continued working with my dad for 3 months until uni began, and I continued working, so I never became a school teacher.
Then, at the age of 27, I was juggling work 7 days a week, and studying at night to become a valuer, till I got burnt out to be honest. I left the industry and became a recruiter for three years, before returning to the real estate industry as a shopping centre manager.
So I guess what really excites me about the industry now is that it is really dynamic, truly, there is always something new happening. And as I said before, the people are great, and what I really love most about the industry is the people.
So my role as CEO now is more about helping business owners with their businesses, there’s a lot of variety in what I do, which is what I love about it.
Q. How long have you been in your current role with Laing & Simmons?
I’ve been CEO for one year, prior to that I was managing director for 10 years. And prior to that, I was a general manager for maybe six or seven years. I have been there for 27 years and started as an administration manager back in 1995 and worked my way up.
Q. What professional achievements are you most proud of up to date?
I’ve got lots, to be honest, but I think probably organising the franchisee’s buyout of the brand. So 15 of us bought the brand last year, and we’ve owned it for just one year as of last month. So that is probably my proudest achievement to be able to negotiate and manage that sale.
Q. What do you like to do in your spare time?
I don’t have a lot of spare time but when I do I love to spend time with my friends, go out for lunch and just catch up with friends. Sit outside, and have a nice glass of wine. I go to the gym most days as well, I’m pretty focused on my health, and fitness. I used to play the flute when I was younger, and I stopped when I started selling real estate. I am keen to start playing the flute again.
Q. Any charities or volunteering organisations you are involved in that you would like to mention?
There's an organisation called Sister2Sister. And it is a mentoring program for at-risk and troubled teenage girls. So I've been involved in that since 2009. So I was a big sister for a couple of years. And I have been a team leader since then, so I get involved in the training and all of that sort of stuff. I then have a group of 10, big and little sisters that I look after. It's a year-long program, so every year we get a new batch of people.
We have noticed that there is a high number of young women suffering from mental health issues and anxiety, so it is a lovely program to be a part of.
Myself and 4 other team leaders each have 10 big sisters who we mentor, and then the big sisters then have a little sister who they look after. I help the big sisters and mentor them, so they can know how to answer questions, since most of the girls in the program are around 14 or 15 years old. It can be really hard to communicate with them sometimes, when they are really struggling with mental health issues.
I have noticed some great results with this program, my first little sister is now married with a baby of her own. My other little sister has gotten her university qualification, there are a lot of incredible stories happening in this program.
Q. Any other organisations you are involved with?
Well, the main other one would be Dignity. And that was, during my time as president of the Real Estate Institute. We supported Dignity, which is the people that consider themselves to be the first responders for homelessness. So if something happened to me today, for example, and I found myself in a domestic violence situation, and I had to escape the house, Dignity are the go to people that will take you, find you somewhere safe to be and to, you know, get your clothes and everything that you need for a home-cooked meal. Everything that you need to kind of get yourself together to know what to do next. They don't provide long term housing, they provide the initial response and help you to then find out what your entitlements are, and help you out, which is a great initiative as well.
Q. How would you describe your relationship with Propic?
Our relationship with Propic has been long-held, we have been involved since the very beginning. We believe that the technology that they are rolling out to the market is really clever. It is much more clever than most of the other stuff that is out there. We are looking forward to seeing where it all ends up.
Established in 1967, Laing+Simmons believe that real estate is not a property-first business, but a people-first business.
Laing+Simmons offers a full range of real estate services encompassing sales, property management, short and long-term leasing, project marketing, strata management and more.
A new generation of modern real estate agents is choosing Propic to intelligently connect people, properties and real estate services with the latest Artificial Intelligence insights. Propic customers include national real estate franchises to boutique independent agencies. Propic has created an affordable subscription model to make it possible for pioneers to access the extraordinary power of big data AI to find new leads, talk to more people, predict buying and selling patterns, and rediscover the joy of connecting people to property in the modern always-on world. Find out more at propic.com.au/.