Today’s career interview with Chris Page, National Manager – New Projects at Napier & Blakeley, clearly illustrates there is more than one way to get where you want to be!
One thing that is clear from the discussions I’ve had at recent conferences about the future of work is that many of Australia’s issues with education and employment stem from our relatively recent focus on getting a university education. Aspiring to a degree is not a problem in itself, except that this goal may be at the expense of other forms of equally valuable forms of education for school leavers – both in terms of individual skills and the economy as a whole.
We first ‘met’ Chris in Group Training Australia‘s Network Magazine (March 2015):
Here’s what Chris had to tell us about what he’s learnt on his career journey…
What’s your current position and what do you do?
This is actually a complex question. My title is quite vague and for good reason – to not put boundaries on my internal function here at Napier & Blakeley. To describe my role I initially look to my CV and LinkedIn profile and which says
As head of the new projects department in the National Tax Business Unit I am responsible for the growth of the National Property Tax Business throughout Australia.
I’m also concentrating on growing the Napier & Blakeley brand internationally, and increasing recognition throughout the Property Development, Construction and Investment Industry sectors as the leading provider in Transaction, Asset & Development Advisory, Quantity Surveying, Sustainable Property Solutions and Property Depreciation and Insurance Assessment Advice.
Putting what I do into a simple sentence is hard simply because my role here at Napier & Blakeley is really quite diverse. I do a lot of Business Development in varying sectors in the Property Industry, continuously growing the Napier & Blakeley brand.
I’m also responsible for the growth of a new Tax Business Unit within the company which we’ve been working on for nearly a year – it is being launched and goes to market this coming July. All very exciting – and of course keeps me busy.
What other activities are you involved in?
Outside of work – well not as much as I’d like – I’m rather time poor.
I try to keep it simple. I have a strict gym routine, attending the gym religiously regardless where I am travelling, or staying, at a minimum of 6 days a week. This for me is probably the most important part of my day. Not only because there is no better stress relief other than sweating it out on the gym floor but also because entertaining clients often means eating and drinking far too much – all of which would go straight to my waist if it weren’t for gym!
I am an avid rock climber – yet another form of keeping fit, but also mind clearing. Climbing a wall requires constant problem solving – keeps my brain active in an unusual and physically active way.
Let’s not forget my passion for wine and food – this is something I spend a great deal of time enjoying.
Inside work – LOTS. Too much even. I tend to take on more than I should. It’s the price of absolute career commitment.
Is this what you expected to be doing when you were at school?
Absolutely not. Nowhere near it.
I finished school quite young – and at the time I had no idea what I wanted to do – apart from the typical high school dreams. Great job, lots of travel, lots of money, all the glory.
Unfortunately something we don’t quite understand as teenagers is the iceberg theory. When it comes to successful careers generally people outside only ever see the top of the iceberg – the success and glory. And as we know with icebergs, the bigger portion is under the ocean hidden from view. Stress, responsibility, sacrifice, risk, persistence regardless of challenges or failures on the way. Endless hard work.
But it’s all worth it, for that small bit of super white bright ice soaking in the sunshine at the top.
I think I learnt rather quickly – by being thrown in the deep end in the early years of my career that there is more hard work than there is reward.
I had more work than I did have hours in the day. But I fought through it – always taking on more than I could handle. Biting off more than I could ever chew – but I chewed through it all. Perhaps at great personal and social expense. But if you want it bad enough – you will do whatever it costs to get it done. Success is by no means easy – it wouldn’t be rewarding if it were.
When I finished school I thought eventually I’d end up in Construction Management or something related to it. And I have done that, from Contracts Administration on hundred million dollar construction sites, to being project manager and development manager on sites just as big. Then on to acquisition and development management in the global property market – something I never even dreamt of doing, let alone before the age of 30.
And now I’ve jumped fence to the consultancy side – working with a great deal of developers, asset and fund managers across the country as well as Southern Asia. A lot of my work these days is within the Property Tax sector. Tax is definitely something I never ever considered being remotely involved in – however property tax is one of the good taxes – it’s the one of the few taxes that gives back!! It’s nice to work in a business unit that helps property investors make more money!!!
When you remove common boundaries or as I call them, our comfort zones, and you let your career take the wild paths without fear of the ‘what if’ then this is when your career will take you to places and heights you never expected.
What was your first job?
I was 13 – far too young to have a legal job, but I was tall and looked older than 13 so managed to sneak my way into my first ever job.
Living on the Gold Coast – when I wasn’t at school or at home I was mostly likely found on one of the two ice rinks ice skating and playing ice hockey. Naturally I started working at one of the rinks. It was, at the time my ideal dream job – being paid whilst getting to skate. Loved it. I worked at ice rinks on the Gold Coast and then down in Melbourne (after a family move at 15) up until the last possible moment when university and my apprenticeship took all my time.
Can you tell us about a significant turning point in your career/life?
This is a hard question. There are a couple of turning points.
Spending a few weeks in Canberra at the GTA (Group Training Australia) ‘Today’s Skills, Tomorrow’s Leaders’ program was definitely an eye opening event. It lifted my ideas of what is possible to a whole new level.
I think travel is also something that can help us grow, or act as a turning point. When I moved to London – my entire life was shaken upside down. New job, in a new country, new everything – it challenged me to a new way of thinking. Primarily because it exposed me to a whole new level of success. Success you don’t see too often in Australia. The abundance of successful multi-millionaires and billionaires that I was lucky enough to learn from in the UK really taught me that success is not something you get or are given (well for those lucky to be born into it perhaps this is the case).
Success is something you sacrifice for, something you dedicate your whole life to earning. It’s the reward that we are lucky to earn after a life time of effort, hard work but most of all smart business decision making.
But let’s not forget success is not only wealth – it’s family, and life in general. I think it was a turning point meeting people who had obtained great wealth and success at the sacrifice of much else. Family, friends – time.
Learning that success is more than just wealth and power – this teaches us that we need to work hard towards a happy balance. And that will be something different for everyone.
Who do you admire? Who has inspired you?
I admire a great many people. Kerry Packer is someone I grew up admiring, he was born into wealth, but he grew up in an era where you worked for it. He lived life to its fullest – made good and bad decisions, but regardless of outcome continuously fought to better himself and his businesses.
Aurelio Peccei, an Italian scholar and industrialist of the 20th century is probably one of my all-time most admired individuals to read about and more importantly learn from. He is perhaps best known as the founder of ‘The Club of Rome’ but for me, he was a man who survived imprisonment, torture and very nearly execution during WWII, he is the one man who turned post war Fiat Corporation into the mighty international beast of a company that it became in the late 20th century.
When Aurelio founded The Club of Rome, he introduced the world to the idea of an international think tank. A forum for scholars of all nations to come and think aloud – to present the world with ideas of how to better humanity for the greater good.
If there were no limitations, what would be in the future for you?
Limitations? What limitations? By simply thinking ‘if there were no limitations’ you’re already placing them upon yourself. There are no limitations!
As I’ve always said, people who tell you to pull your head out of the clouds simply say it because they themselves are too scared to see what’s above them.
Limitations are something that generations before us were guided by. People were born poor and were to stay poor, or they were born into wealth and it was their ‘birth right’ to remain wealthy throughout life.
Thank god for the industrial revolution.
Today people can be born anywhere in the world, from any family, any race, any religion, any anything and become wealthy, successful and powerful. The only limitation we have are those which we lock ourselves into.
If you truly want it – you will do whatever it takes to get it – or die trying. If you want it that bad that is.
Finally, what would you tell your younger self about work and careers?
This question makes me laugh. Because the only thing I would say is “slow the F**k down Chris”. (Excuse my French!)
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither is a career. We’re placed under so much pressure these days that we forget to stop and smell the roses.
So simply put, the only think I would advise myself on is time. Slow down, the one thing we learn with age is that the journey is where the fun happens. The destination is death so why limit our journey?
Take risks, have fun, work hard and enjoy where life takes you without worrying about ‘what if’!