Introducing Margot Black, General Manager, Corporate Sustainability

How long have you worked in the property industry? 
I have been working in the property industry for thirty years, starting life as an urban and regional planner and moving into sustainability in the last 15 years. I have worked for Local and State Government as well as consulting before moving into Sustainability with property companies such as Stockland, Lendlease and Charter Hall. 

How are we using technology at Investa to drive innovation? 
Investa is well regarded in our industry for its use of technology and innovation. Having joined the team, I am continuing to be blown away by these elements of the business.

How would you describe your leadership style? 
My leadership style is collaborative. Success in sustainability relies on the great action of others so my style reflects my background in community engagement and is open and participatory.

Three words that best describe you?
Determined, considered and generous

What is the most memorable moment of your career?
As a young urban planner I worked on the urban renewal of Fortitude Valley in Brisbane.  It was the 1990s and there was alignment across State, Federal and local government in urban policy and buckets of money to address issues impacting growing communities. My role addressed urban design, major site contamination, redevelopment and regeneration.  I also worked on social issues of homelessness and community-wide disadvantage. A highlight was setting the transformation of this vibrant centre and working with the numerous multicultural communities, where I brushed off my very poor Italian and learnt Mandarin (again very poorly) which also applied with overseas developers. The skills I learnt in this role has influenced my approach in all roles I always go back to the Valley when in Brisvegas to watch the ongoing transformation.  

What is the hardest challenge you have faced in the property industry?
The hardest but most rewarding challenge has been community engagement. One property company I worked at had a stalled redevelopment, which created significant hardship for tenant customers, who were understandably disgruntled.  Surrounding residents were also unhappy with the proposed redevelopment plans and social issues surrounding the shopping centre were also causing concern and sparked the interest of national current affairs shows.

It took significant engagement, negotiation and collaboration to get the development in a form that addressed surrounding community concerns and supported tenants through the transition.  Co-created community programs enabled the shopping centre to also address the social issues. My learnings from this challenge have been to ensure we are mindful of our decisions and the impacts they make on our stakeholders, as it directly impacts returns and investments.

What do you do in your spare time?
Spend time with my four kids and husband, play soccer (- well attempt to anyway), bushwalking

How has a focus on sustainability, health and well-being benefited your work experience?
Transforming roles from setting urban strategy to applying the sustainability elements through property development and operations has enabled me to better understand the practical applications of sustainability and its contribution to strong investments.

What drew you toward working with Investa?
Great people and culture.  The approach of sustainability in everything we do, including sustainable finance!  Investa’s move into the emerging Build to Rent sector was also another drawcard, but the people are the main attraction!