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Luxury property experts share how to find success in a competitive market

Six leading ladies at Knight Frank Australia share their proudest professional achievements, how they measure success and what they’re most excited for this year.

Knight Frank women in leadership

Feature image: Crown Residence at One Barangaroo, Sydney

With a number of projects in the works, including the six-star luxury residential tower of Crown Residences at One Barangaroo scheduled for completion in 2021, it’s an exciting time for the team at Knight Frank Australia.

The UK-founded company has a heritage that spans more than 100 years, making it well-placed to strategically advise and connect ultra-high-net-worth clients with residential and commercial properties.

We sit down with a few of the leaders at the firm who are spearheading change and paving the way for the next generation.

Erin van Tuil

Partner, Director of Sales and Marketing, Crown Residences at One Barangaroo

Knight Frank women in leadership

Citing working on what’s “undoubtedly Australia’s best residential development” as her proudest professional achievement, Erin says she is honoured to be part of the team bringing the stunning Crown Residences at One Barangaroo to life.

“I am most excited about entering the last 12 months of construction of One Barangaroo. It is such an exciting time; the building looks incredible from so many parts of Sydney and I can’t wait for that opening party and welcoming our residents into the building. It’s looking very positive for prime property in Sydney with 4% growth predicted (in 2020). I think we will continue to see demand for the best property on the market and new wealth coming into Sydney will continue to drive this. Buyers will be seeking out the best their money can buy.”

Erin is most inspired by leaders who successfully implement change – “those that see a problem and solve a problem, taking their teams with them”. “I am fortunate to have experienced inspirational leadership at Knight Frank and at Crown Resorts, and every day I learn something new,” she comments.

Deborah Cullen

Partner, Prestige Residential & Head of Brand Relationships

Knight Frank women in leadership

Deborah’s career with Knight Frank began in 2016 when she excitedly took on the opportunity to establish the prestige residential team in Sydney.

Her role had her overseeing the day-to-day management, strategic focus and recruitment building of the team in the city – a task that requires great patience.

In fact, practicing patience is what she says is her proudest professional achievement, adding that it’s with the “knowledge that we are building something extraordinarily special with the support of our board and global partners that will eventually see us being the industry leader in the prestige residential space in Australia”.

Deborah is inspired by the “phenomenal women” she works alongside. “They are breaking ground in male-dominated industries and roles,” she says. “We are all supportive of each other and allow each other to shine. It is special and not taken for granted.”

Sarah Harding

Partner, Joint National Head of Private Office

Knight Frank women in leadership

For Sarah, 15 years at Knight Frank have culminated in a leading role with the firm’s Private Office, where the focus is to “drive exceptional service, communication and advice to our ultra-high net worth clients and private investors”.

“The world’s obsession with property drives a need for bespoke advice and at Knight Frank we are best placed to do this,” she comments.

Sarah believes success comes in many forms. “In a competitive industry, sometimes we can forget to reflect and take note as to actually how much you have achieved and made a difference. For me, success feels like expectations have been exceeded, relationships have gone to the next stage and everyone feels good in the process.”

She says she seeks inspiration from the two most important women in her life – her mother and daughter – as well as females in leadership roles around the world. “I was fortunate enough to attend the Chief Executive Women leadership course in Singapore 2016. The continued support from exceptional women has helped to shape some very proud moments for me over the past four years.”

Michelle Ciesielski

Partner, Head of Residential Research

Knight Frank women in leadership

Inspired in business by a mentor who has lived a “brave and trailblazing life” after escaping war in her hometown, Michelle is proud that her work allows Knight Frank clients to make well-informed residential property decisions.

“Sharing industry-leading residential research with a captive audience is rewarding,” she says. “Major local and international companies rely on it to deliver significant projects on Australia’s city skylines.”

Michelle is confident about the opportunities that await in 2020. She says Sydney’s prestige residential property values are forecast to grow, and that Melbourne has several prime luxury projects entering the market, thus increasing competition.

“Being an integral part of Knight Frank’s prestige residential team is not only exciting, but being an independent company in growth mode offers the challenge to outperform the achievements we’ve made thus far by leading the industry with our global and local intelligence,” she states.

Linda Rudd

Partner, National Head of Asset Management Services

Knight Frank women in leadership

Linda leads the Asset Management Services team consisting of 400 people nationally and sits on the Holdings Board for Knight Frank Australia.

Her outlook for 2020 sees a continued focus on innovation and technology with Knight Frank Australia set to launch some exciting projects. She adds that the built environment will be a focus on sustainability.

“As responsible managers, we need to reduce the impact that the built environment has on the natural world. There is some great work done to date but there are new solutions to be adopted that will help to drive better outcomes and protect our climate,” she says.

Linda measures success through the success of her teams. “I feel our role is to coach and mentor others so they can have every chance and opportunity to succeed, grow and develop,” she says. “When they succeed, so do we and it makes me extremely proud.”

For Linda, there are numerous senior women in property and other industries who she gets inspiration from. “They have forged a pathway, particularly when times were different to what they are now with less awareness on gender diversity. They are the original trailblazers.”

Andrea Brown

Partner, National Head of Project Management and Building Consultancy

Knight Frank women in leadership

Andrea plays an important strategic role at Knight Frank, working in partnerships with clients to deliver end-to-end technical and commercial solutions to align with their business goals.

She believes that “achievements are relevant to the time and moment they happen”.

“I have done many things I am proud of, whether it is learning a new skill or delivering on promises made to others,” she continues. “The thing I always look back to though is the decision to come to Australia to live and work. I did not know what direction my life was going to take at that point and I still cannot believe the professional (and personal) journey I have undertaken since I relocated here. It was a pivot point in my life that gave me the courage to take me where I am today.”

Andrea is inspired by many sources, from people “who remind me to keep my eyes open and learn something new every day” to running friends, “one of whom is 72 years old and is the reason I started running again and learned how to push the boundaries mentally and physically”. Then there are her family and children who offer up entirely new perspectives on things.

For Andrea, 2020 will be a year of learning, encouraging and succeeding. “Continuing to offer the best advice through thought leadership and challenging the traditional way that things are done are what I am excited about,” she says. “I want to continue to learn new things and ensure I work in an environment that allows those that I work with to also learn and succeed.”

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