This month we learn more about Scott Bellerby (CPV), Senior Development Manager WA for McDonald's Australia. Mr Bellerby spoke with Kelli Wells about career history and progression with us, including his interest in the sea. More than a mere curiosity, his passion for all things nautical led him to sail on the Endeavour Replica and attain university degrees in aquaculture, resource management, and sea urchins.
How long have you been in the property industry? How did you get your start?
I started in the property industry just over 11 years ago. At the time I had just returned to Perth and was looking for a new start. My mother had a large strata company, Bellcourt Strata Management, and she suggested I try working as a real estate agent. Given the excitement that was starting to build in Perth around that time in the property industry, I thought I’d try my hand.
After six hard months, I realised that it wasn’t really for me. However, it did introduce me to the world of property valuation. I subsequently enrolled at Curtin University and commenced a Masters in Property. Within a month of starting at uni, I was employed as a residential trainee valuer at Hegney Property Group. I worked and studied full time and within 12 months I was working in the commercial department. After just over two years I was a licensed property valuer and an Associate Member of the API.
Where are you currently working?
For the last three years I have been working at McDonald’s Australia as a real estate development manager.
How did you come to be in this role?
I really enjoy being challenged. I was undertaking numerous reports for litigation purposes and was engaged as an expert witness in several District and Supreme Court cases. I also set up a real estate agency with my brother, Bellcourt Property Group, and was trying to expand into shopping centre valuations. This subsequently led to McDonald’s, which was looking to expand its real estate team and grow its presence in WA. They laid down a challenge to double their store penetration in WA within five years. It was a challenge I was keen to be involved in.
What are the best parts of your job?
The role is very diverse - it throws down a lot of challenges. Everyday I’m doing something different, meeting new people and I’m always learning something.
What are the most challenging aspects of your job?
In the past I would have listed achieving a successful DA approval, however, I think the introduction of the JDAP (Joint Development Assessment Panels) process in WA has really streamlined the planning process. There is still the responsibility of the developer to engage and work closely with council to achieve a successful outcome and I believe this process has really facilitated this attitude. Saying this, there are still several teething problems which will hopefully be ironed out within the short term.
While the development approval process has evolved into a higher level of engagement, there is a widening disconnection between local and state government. Councils and their planning departments have really been under the spotlight for a number of years, while there has been no focus on some of the state-run departments. It can be very disappointing when, as a developer, you have worked hard with local government and the JDAP to achieve a positive outcome and then run into a government department whose attitudes are so antiquated.
Tell us a bit about your background and career path?
For the first 10 years after finishing school I was tied to the ocean. I finished school and did a Diploma in Nautical Science while working on the Endeavour Replica. After completing both these projects I was then lucky enough to get a job with One Australia in the America’s Cup as a security diver which took me to Queensland and then onto San Diego for a year. For those that may recall, this was not a successful challenge and after 18 years I was heartened to hear a few weeks ago that there will be another Australian challenge. After travelling the world for several months I came back to Perth, did a Bachelor of Science in Aquaculture and Resource Management and an honours degree in Sea Urchins. I also worked as a dive instructor, completed a ship diver course in the Navy reserves and worked on a revolutionary sea cage design. After completing my degree I moved up north and worked as a pearl farm diver which progressed to nursery farm manger and then to farm manager for a short stint as the farm was closed down. The road then took me back to Perth looking for a new direction in life.
Why did you choose to pursue a career in this area?
No matter who you talk to, they will always have an opinion, query, statement and/or experience related to property. The majority of us strive to own a home and once this is achieved, look to towards the next home or to invest in property. I wanted to be involved.
What do you think are among the biggest challenges facing the property industry?
Lenders. Analysing property is a science, with a touch of art. It requires experience and a sound knowledge of the property market. It can be progressed with quantitative mathematics (this is a big part of how McDonald’s determine where to build the next restaurant). However, there is no one formula that can simplify the process and provide an easy answer for the lender, be it the bank, the board of directors or the shareholders. Unfortunately for lenders this level of uncertainty is difficult to comprehend at times. If it was as simple as entering a couple of numbers and hoping the program gives you the correct answer, life would be very boring.
What are your plans for the next 12 months?
My role has changed somewhat. I am now overseeing the real estate team in WA, which has grown over the last 12 months from being just myself to a team of three real estate DMs and an asset manager. My focus will be working with the team to ensure we can meet the challenge thrown down three years ago and continue to build our relationship with key stakeholders, including State and local Government and major developers. There are also several new competitors coming into WA, so a big focus will be to ensure we keep a couple of steps ahead.
How is the API helping your career and why do you believe a membership organisation such as the API is important to property professionals?
Being a member of a professional body like API gives you credibility and a great opportunity to continue your education and ongoing development. A famous quote from Ray Kroc the founder of McDonald’s was, “When you're green, you're growing; and when you're ripe, you start to rot”, the API gives you the ability to keep growing.
What would you say to upcoming property professionals?
I absolutely love being involved in the property industry and I think you can get no greater foundation than starting as a property valuer. It helps train you to look multi-directionally at property and with greater experience you are able to see more of what is in front of you, to the left, right and behind you, as it all has an influence on property. Look to get affiliated with various property organisations, as the more people you connect with, the stronger you are. This means never being afraid to give someone a call, two heads are always better than one.