Michelle who leads Colliers International's The Pitch Studio in Asia makes it a point to understand the clients' needs, their business goals and market trends in order to craft effective, bespoke marketing campaigns. Driven by her vision, the team has innovated the pitch process and helped to spur business growth.
1. How long have you been in the real estate industry? How did you come to join Colliers?
I have been in the real estate industry since 2010, where I worked at Mantra Group - Australia’s leading accommodation operator - in a sales and marketing executive role. That kicked off my career in bid response, sales, business development, account management and creative marketing.
Subsequently, I moved to diversified Australian property developer firm Stockland to lead a national team of sales executives, tasked with helping to drive additional revenue into newly developed shopping malls in Australia.
After moving to Singapore in 2016, I was referred to Colliers International. I have always been passionate about property real estate and equally passionate about sales and marketing, so the newly created The Pitch Studio seemed perfect for me. With a timely lead time before my move to Singapore, I had time to consider my career goals and discussed my plans with Colliers who were incredibly supportive of my goals and most importantly, shares the vision on how innovative strategies could elevate client understanding in real estate sales and marketing. I am empowered to make a difference, linking sales and marketing for clients - taking marketing bid and campaigns to the next level.
2. What excites you most about your role at Colliers? What is most satisfying about your job?
I enjoy leading the strategy process, partnering with our brokers to develop bid responses, presentation material and marketing campaigns, whilst learning about new real estate trends along the way. It is deeply satisfying when we drive alignment of our offering with our clients for a positive outcome for them, and also the firm. Pitching is not just about making a project or a proposal attractive, it is a highly complex management process that captures the company’s business goals, the clients’ needs, the project’s value proposition and ongoing market environment. The entire process and opportunities that are encompassed are very exciting. Every client, every opportunity, therefore every day for me is different.
I also love the company culture and its people. Although Colliers is a large firm, it moves and operates nimbly – it is dynamic and the management encourages a culture of enterprise. Everyone can brainstorm together and is willing to help if they have innovative ideas. The company listens and if you work hard and show evidence of an idea that works, you are empowered to make that change. There is a real entrepreneurial and collaborative spirit within the firm. I love that.
Having had to work with people across multiple business lines, I find that Colliers employees are generally real, grounded people who are incredibly ambitious, hungry, resilient and dynamic. It is amazing to be surrounded by all that enthusiasm, drive and energy, which push us to achieving even better results, both individually and collectively.
3. You used to be a yoga instructor. Tell us a bit more about that and why did you decide to switch to property marketing?
I took my yoga teacher training in 2014, while still holding down my full-time job. For me, yoga was always about maintaining a balance between work and life as well as staying authentic and true to self.
Back in Australia I taught yoga part-time, two to three times a week, at events and for causes mostly to drive mental health awareness, also for non-profit and corporate yoga class while I was working at Stockland.
I still am a yoga instructor and teach occasionally here in Singapore - to friends and colleagues - particularly for charities where I can give back to the community.
4. As a former yoga instructor, what did you learn from yoga that could be applied at the workplace?
The benefits of yoga are well-documented and have been evident to me and my students first hand. It means different things to different people. To me, yoga helps me find stillness in a busy world – mentally, physically and emotionally. It teaches one to be mindful, present and focused, which can be applied at the workplace, particularly when there are numerous projects vying for your attention.
In practicing yoga, one has to be aware of one’s posture, injuries, body type and abilities, as well as breathing techniques. I found all that useful at the workplace. For instance, proper breathing techniques and posture come in handy during presentations, translating into confidence and positive body language. Teaching and instructing has assisted me in presentation skills, pace, tone and relevant language. As a yoga teacher, you need to consider if students have certain injuries, take note of their age and different body types - which is akin to knowing your audience in the workplace and ensuring you are relevant to them.
Yoga encourages self-reflection. This helps me to learn a lot about myself and also become more empathetic and patient towards others. I became a better listener and took more effort in understanding what other people’s and clients’ needs are.
5. What do you think are some trends that could disrupt the way properties are being marketed in the future?
The relentless march of technology has disrupted many industries, jobs and the way we work. Marketing is not spared. Digital technology permeates marketing campaigns – the use of social media, videography, virtual reality, animation, interactive mediums, drones, data analytics, just to name a few.
Take the role of a real estate agent for example, it has evolved so much over the years. Online platforms have enable consumers to transact themselves, at times eliminating the need for an agent. Buyers and sellers can access limitless market data over the Internet, meaning agents have to be extremely well-informed and able to provide even more value-adding advisory services.
We have already seen greater personalisation and prediction software matching properties to people/prospects through data analytics, digital marketing and even facial recognition. Innovative technologies like artificial intelligence, augmented reality, sensors and 3D printing will continue to push the boundaries in the marketing and advertising space. What the future holds is certainly exciting and would require a shift in mindset. We have to keep learning in order to keep up. The ability to adapt and change is an important tool we have to stay relevant amid a fast-changing world.