A Day in My Shoes

You don’t know a person until you walk a day in their shoes. My shoes connect me to what I do and tell a lot about me as a Strata Manager. I recall my First steps into the Strata Industry, it was a short walk up the steps and along the boardwalk into the offices of Cambridge Management Services for an interview.

Once I arrived, I nervously followed the receptionist, she pushed open the big glass doors revealing an enormous boardroom that overlooked the picturesque marina as I stood shaking in a pair of Oroton heels. Thankfully I got the job, and three years later I am proud to say I manage the largest portfolio in our head office. My current portfolio is made up of 17 schemes, which sees a total of 1,565 Lots under my management. I pride on my work and that is reflected in my presentation.

My polished shoes reflect the high quality and professionalism that I want to deliver. The soles of these shoes however show the hurdles we all face within the industry. Strata is a fast-paced ever-changing industry. We all have a high-volume workload and clients with high expectations. Everyone wants everything yesterday and often Owners do not understand that it is not you holding up the process.

There is a lot of misinformation in communities about what my role is and who makes the decisions. I find it so hard not to take it personally when Owners disregard the extra work I put in or take their frustrations out on me for things that are out of my control. There is a steady flow of criticism regardless of how much I am over servicing my clients. All of this combined can be overwhelming, it can really damage your self esteem, wear you down and impact your mental health and personal life.

After a while, I learnt a few things that help my mental health and general wellbeing. Establishing boundaries is important. Taking a lunch break, going home on time, taking a quick tea break and learning to say no. I’ve learnt to value the service that I provide and place an importance on work life balance. Swapping those heels for a pair of runners and going for a jog after work really clears the mind. Some good music and a good cup of tea definitely helps with dealing with emails and if all else fails, a quick trip onsite in the office golf buggy always gets me motivated!

But above all, I have learnt that there is nothing more powerful than a positive outlook. It all starts with me. Just how negativity spreads, positivity does too! Don’t get me wrong, it takes commitment, time and effort. I make a conscious attempt to be aware of my state and of the state of the others in the room. I try to find the fun in the little things and really appreciate the victories, no matter how small. Most of my clients are older gentlemen with executive backgrounds. They come from a generation that has a preconceived idea of what a female my age is capable of.

At the beginning I found it hard to overcome this and gain their respect. Each time I walked into that enormous boardroom they would look me up and down, and on occasion, outright ask what qualification I have to be handling their scheme. And of course, this caused me to second guess myself. I would question my worth and my ability as the anxiety kicked in. But the more times I walked into that boardroom, stood tall, wore those patent leather court shoes and focused on the solution, the easier it became.

As I overcame the bias, provided accurate advice and remained confident in my abilities, I earned my clients respect. Suddenly, my age is not a problem and I am pleased to say that I have built lasting working relationships with some of the most incredible people. Doctors, Lawyers, military heroes, community heroes, people who worked at NASA, CEO’s, entrepreneurs, directors, property tycoons and people from all walks of life. Oh, the stories that their shoes could tell. This is the part of the job that is the most rewarding. There is no point focusing on the preconceived ideas, the unattainable or the problems. I have found it is much better to concentrate on being positive, meaningful, beneficial, constructive and coming up with a solution. My clients appreciate this approach and quickly follow suit.

My shoes can tell you how I am feeling at any given moment without even speaking. For example, if I pull up to the office in strappy high-heeled sandals, it usually means I have a cruisy meeting and a nice lunch planned. If I am wearing a responsible patent leather court shoe, perhaps they are telling you that I am in for a challenging day and am counting on the extra height and the polished look to give me that boost in confidence I need. If I have kicked off the heels and have swapped for the flats underneath my desk, that is a sure sign that I am settling in at my desk to get some serious work done.

Being a Strata Manager is a fantastic career and I am so happy that I get to walk up the stairs, along the boardwalk and into such a great office. I love the people I work with. Their shoes are just like mine, shiny and professional on top, but worn underneath from all the walks to meeting, visiting clients, trapesing down easements and climbing onto rooftops. We all face similar hurdles and need to overcome the same challenges. But I am lucky enough to walk that journey (even when that walk is to personally deliver documents to a Chairperson’s letterbox with 20 minutes notice!). My shoes have supported me through a lot and I look forward to the journey ahead.

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