Driving Ambitions

Member Spotlight - Carina Cowham

Property Industry News this month takes a closer look at the API's high achieving member, Carina Cowham.

What is your current role and who do you work for?

I work in Commercial Property and Asset Management at Jones Lang LaSalle’s Sydney CBD office, managing a commercial property portfolio predominantly in the CBD.

How did you come to be in this role?

Property has always been the area in which I have wanted to work. In my last years at high school I worked part time at First National, Cammeray performing administrative duties and upon completion of my Higher School Certificate (HSC), I achieved a finalist place in the Laing + Simmons Traineeship which involved a ‘hands on’ work experience program in the Mosman office. I then went on to complete my tertiary education and graduated with a Property Economics degree from UTS in 2007.

During my university education I worked part time with Chesterton International in the CBD, commercial leasing team where I was involved with canvassing, cold-calling, site inspections and acquiring new listings.

In 2006 I succeeded in securing a role with the Goodman Group (formally known as Macquarie Goodman) where I began my career in property management, and progressed from an assistant lease administrator, to assistant project manager, assistant property manager and then to property manager.

Property has always been the area in which I have wanted to work..."
After working with Goodman for five years, I moved into a corporate real estate role as a property manager for Broadcast Australia (BA) to negotiate the lease renewals and site acquisition for a portfolio of approximately 200 sites in Tasmania, Western Australia and Victoria.

After working with BA, I joined Centuria Capital as a property manager where I performed asset and property management duties with extensive leasing and portfolio challenges for a newly acquired portfolio in the group.

Why did you choose to pursue a career in this area?

From a young age I had a genuine interest in buildings, such as what each type of building housed and how the building functioned. I could also relate to and understand property as an asset because it is tangible in nature and this lead to me to pursue a career in property and asset management, which involved all aspects of understanding property and its performance.

What do you think are among the biggest challenges facing your industry?

From an asset management perspective:

  • Tighter debt markets following the GFC, leading to many financiers looking to de-risk by lending with shorter durations and more restrictive covenants and being more selective about the assets to lend against.
  • The recent financial planning reforms have required many fund management firms to reassess their equity distribution channels.
  • Disclosure requirements continue to increase in terms of volume and type of information, as well as the frequency of reporting both in terms of financial metrics and non-financial information extending now to areas such as sustainability and environment reporting.
  • With continuing weak and uncertain global economic conditions, many investors will continue the ‘flight to quality’ and invest in relatively low risk assets resulting in additional pressure on lower grade property assets.
What do you like most about being an Australian Property Institute (API) member?

I enjoy the networking opportunities with pure property professionals who encourage long term relationships, both social and educational.

Are you involved with any API committees?

Over the past seven years, I have volunteered my time to contribute to the social and economic benefit of the property industry through my involvement with the NSW Young Property Professionals (YPP) and the API.

The YPP is a not-for-profit professional networking group that aims to enhance relationships among young professionals through the organisation of educational and social events. The (NSW) YPP is run by the YPP Committee and comprises eight young members (under 35 years-old) who volunteer their time to meet regularly, co-ordinate events, organise speakers and raise sponsorship money.

I provide a ‘voice’ to the API on behalf of its younger members, particularly relating to membership benefits, continual professional development, and difficulties with working in the valuation industry."
In 2011 and 2012 I held the position of committee Chair and gained a seat on the NSW Divisional Council for the API where I was able to play a big role in the evolution of the YPP in actively promoting YPP’s industry relevance and increasing its brand profile. YPP now has a strong alliance with the API and plays a significant role in addressing issues confronting student members, graduates and associates as well as other young professionals in the industry.

During my time as Chair, I placed greater emphasis on the importance of the YPP events and committee members to act as future leaders and advocates for the API and promote the values and ethics the institution stands for. As a representative on Divisional Council, I provide a ‘voice’ to the API on behalf of its younger members, particularly relating to membership benefits, continual professional development, and difficulties with working in the valuation industry.

Have you received professional acknowledgement as a result of your achievements?

In October last year I won the Eureka Funds Management Young Achiever of the Year Award 2012 at the NSW API’s Excellence in Property Awards, held at the Powerhouse Museum. The award is made to an individual who, at an early stage in their career, has achieved outstanding performance by their contribution to their organisation or to the property industry. The award is given to someone who has demonstrated a successful contribution to a particular field of endeavour of social or economic performance related to property, and demonstrated exceptional skills, dedication, commitment and the promise of future industry leadership.

How has the API helped your career?

As I have grown from a Student member to an Associate level, the API has continued to support me in my career in terms of opportunities created by networking, relationship building, professional development and mentoring.

What would you say to upcoming property professionals?

Get involved with industry associations such as the API. In my experience, I have made long term friendships and continue to make new connections that have been helpful in my career. It is also good to engage with other industry professionals outside your place of work and develop your network and knowledge through sharing ideas.

Have you an interesting story for the Property Industry News? Why not let us know? mail@api.org.au