My dream job was always in construction or property,” Adrian Pozzo, CEO of Cbus Property declares. An accountant by training, he worked in engineering and construction before taking up a CFO role at Cbus Property’s development, investment, and management business.
An elevation to the CEO role followed four years later, and he has now been in that position for more than a decade. In this time, he has overseen projects like 1 William Street, Brisbane – a 75,000-square-metre commercial office building – and the Newmarket development in Sydney. These are the kind of progressive, large-scale projects that young professionals dreaming of a career in the industry aspire to work on.
The Newmarket project, located in Randwick’s fabled racing precinct, is a development that combines modern luxury with a sensitivity to the area’s history and heritage. There is also a strong indication of the company’s socially responsible approach here; a dozen of the boutique apartments will be gifted to the local council. They can then serve as accommodation for targeted workers, such as interns or young professionals at the nearby Prince of Wales Hospital.
A big impact
This provision of affordable and social housing is part of Cbus Property’s broader efforts to help address housing affordability concerns. “It’s a societal issue and it has a big impact on people’s wellbeing,” Adrian says. “How do we fix that? We’re looking at different methods and opportunities around affordability. Ultimately, it is most likely that we will need the assistance of state and federal governments to make it work.”
Asked whether he enjoys the process or outcome of property development more, it becomes clear that Adrian relishes every aspect of the industry. “The process is fantastic,” he enthuses. “All of us have that competitive nature.”
The completion of a project is also a special occasion. “You see the apartment owners or the office tenants coming through and think, ‘You know, three years ago, this was just a hole in the ground’. It gives you great satisfaction.”
Cbus Property’s development portfolio includes high-profile projects such as 35 Spring Street, which has quickly become an iconic part of the Melbourne skyline, towering 43 storeys above the CBD. Then there is 88 Alfred Street, with its sweeping views of Sydney Harbour. The redevelopment of Melbourne’s heritage-listed Herald and Weekly Times Building adds another string to the company’s bow.
In the commercial space, Cbus Property has also completed developments in Sydney (1 Bligh Street and 5 Martin Place) and in Perth(140 William Street), to name a few. Managing a portfolio currently valued at A$5 billion with only 41 employees, Cbus Property is a lean operation and has built up great loyalty. Adrian says the core employees have been in place for an average of eight years, a real feat in a field where the hours are long and the work demanding.
A great work culture
Trying to put a finger on the culture that inspires such devotion, Adrian says Cbus Property empowers its staff to excel. “They’re given the opportunity to develop the business themselves. I may be the CEO, but I’m always learning. People make the business and good teams make good leaders. Great teams make even better leaders. As far as I’m concerned, I’m just at the end of the food chain.”
The opportunity to do something different on a daily basis is what gets you out of bed.
Such a culture doesn’t happen by accident, Adrian says. “We must be doing something right to have this expertise in-house. It’s a great culture to work in. The opportunity to do something different on a daily basis is what gets you out of bed.
Knowing the real significance of the land
“This industry is so different to others in the opportunities it offers. It’s not about me leaving my mark, or even the company leaving its mark. We are a custodian of the land. We are developing buildings in locations, many of which are surrounded by historical significance. It is our responsibility to take account of the cultural, social and environmental aspects of each opportunity. We can make a difference as a group of people. It leaves a great feeling.”
Adrian also draws energy from his young team, with many in their twenties and thirties.
“Unfortunately, I think I’m the oldest,” he laughs. “They are all achievers – an incredible team of professionals.”