Katrina Newcombe
National Head of Asset Services
 
How long have you worked with Investa? 4 years
 
How long have you worked in the property industry? Over 20 years
 
How would you describe your leadership style/ how have you adapted your leadership style during the pandemic? Approachable, Solutions focused, Open Communicator.
 
During Covid with the pressure the Property teams were under dealing with WFH, Rent Relief, increased client reporting requirements and often with home schooling young children whilst trying to do their day job I spent  a lot more time having personal discussions with the team to see what pressures they personally had. Everyone’s own situation was different. This meant the team worked very flexibly to get the job done in a way that worked for them personally. We saw each other in our home environments for the first time and it really brought down a lot of barriers in the team as for the first time ever everyone was bringing their whole self to work (and their kids, dogs, noisy neighbours and housemates). In a stressful time, having the team feel comfortable that they could be themselves at all times was important. Knowing they had someone to vent to, or simply to say they needed help was also very important. The whole team had each other’s back and that was crucial to getting through and staying on top of the workload.
 
What does the future of work look like? 
I’m an advocate of the office and I know it is here to stay. Will the workplace change?
  • Yes – flexibility will be here to stay – the one good outcome of COVID is that is smashed the flexible work glass ceiling. Its OK to ask for a certain amount of flexibility in the hours worked, annual leave arrangements, some ability to WFH and to be able to accommodate school pick ups, caring for aging parents and ones own mental health. We’ve got some ironing out to do once we reach a COVID normal stage but I think the pathway is positive.
  • Workplace design will also likely change with less need for individual workspaces and a much greater need and desire to have collaboration space where employees can work on projects together and leaders can get their teams together to ensure that company culture remains in an environment where 100% of the workforce may not be in the office everyday and when they do there will be far more focus on team outputs and projects.
  • The office will still be critical to business operation. It will be a means of collaborating and fostering company culture which is important to busines success.
 
Three words that best describe you? Hardworking, Decisive,  Resilient (my 8 year old son says Fun, Hardworking and Resilient)
 
What is the most memorable moment of your career?
I’ve had a few memorable moments in my career with some amazing experiences where I have been able to experience different cultures, learn about different property markets and built an international network. Being brave enough to make the move to Hong Kong with JLL to head up their new Asset Management service in 2001 kick started a decade of lots of travel and experiences I will never forget. I left Melbourne and all of my friends and family behind. I didn’t know anyone in HK when I moved there.
 
I have now worked in 6 different cities and managed assets across more than 12 different markets. I was so nervous that first day in HK, not knowing what would be ahead. I look back now at the doors that have opened and the friendships made through that chapter and know that it has made me much more resilient and a much more open to change and new challenges. The experience in Asia and the Middle East also exposed me to investment grade residential assets and this experience is now becoming very valuable as Investa moves into the  Build to Rent sector with Oxford.
 
What is the hardest challenge you have faced in the property industry?
I thought working in Dubai in the GFC was incredibly challenging until COVID hit. The GFC had more logical financial outcomes. COVID has had financial, health and wellbeing and education impacts on all of our team and their families. Its reach is global, no-one is really spared the implications of this pandemic whether that be through a change in their work structure, the loss of a job, the reduction of income, keeping families apart through travel restrictions. Whether it be our team, our retailers or our commercial tenants, everyone has their own COVID story. People have had to become more resilient and the property industry has had to accommodate health and safety operational challenges and legal and financial challenges for owners and tenants brought about by rent relief schemes in each state and territory. Adapting to the changing environment whilst people have been worried about their own families has been hard on everyone. I always say that property is really a people game – whether it be retail, commercial or residential sectors our end users are always people and the importance of this has never been more true than during the past 10 months.
 
How has a focus on sustainability, health and well-being benefited your work experience?  
I am so fortunate to work at Investa where we genuinely focus everything we do on sustainability and health and wellbeing in the workplace. 20 years ago NABERS ratings didn’t exist, let alone zero carbon targets. At Investa it’s an integrated part of how we manage our assets. We also have  a strong focus on health and wellbeing for both our staff and our occupants. Through our Insite App we have free yoga and pilates classes and lifestyle tips for our occupants. For staff at Investa we have an amazing focus on the wellbeing of our staff including options for flexible work to make peoples lives easier, wellness days, community giving opportunities and a focus on fun and community within our company which makes it a place that we all want to work because we know and like the people we work with.
 
What drew you toward working with Investa?
Investa were one of my clients and I got to know quite a few Investa employees through that. I liked the people and the culture and could see clearly that Investa were the best office managers in Australia. I wanted to be a part of that as the culture aligned with my own values.