Traditionally a male dominant industry, the real estate game has often been referred to as a “boys club”, but not anymore… and certainly not at Peard Real Estate.
PRIMOLife takes a moment to chat to Maree Overton, Peard Real Estate’s Managing Director, about what it’s like to manage one of WA’s most successful real estate companies.
PRIMOLife: How did your career in real estate begin?
Maree Overton: Property has always been my passion. I was 18 when I landed my first real estate job, working as a receptionist at a local agency and went on to work in sales and property management administration, progressing to bookkeeping roles. I knew from the first day that real estate would be a long-term career for me.
PL: How did you come to work for Peard Real Estate?
MO: I joined the company in 2000 as their Bookkeeper, managing all aspects of the accounting and payroll services. Naturally, as more offices opened my role evolved, and in 2007 when the company opened the Corporate Operations office I became the Groups Financial Controller.
PL: What brought you to your current role as Managing Director?
MO: The Financial Controller position was a big step up in responsibility for me. I was managing the accounting department and the day-to-day running of the corporate office which was very involved.
The company was growing, and fast! While Peter was the CEO and working on the strategic direction of the company, it became apparent that there was a need for someone to manage the day to day running of the business. When the Managing Director role became available in late 2010, I felt it was an unmissable opportunity for me to grow both personally and professionally.
I had been managing the company’s finances and business plans for a several years and I felt I had a really well rounded understanding of what it would take to run the company on a daily basis.
PL: The real estate industry has often been referred to as a “man’s world”, would you agree?
MO: It’s no secret, there are more men than women in the industry, but that’s changing. When I started out, women were typically in administrative positions while men dominated the selling game. It’s definitely not the case anymore. While there may be fewer women in the industry, the ones that are currently selling are doing really well. Some of our highest performing Reps happen to be women, and that’s great to see. I have no doubt that the divide will cease to exist soon. Who knows, we may even take over!
PL: Have you ever had to overcome stigmas attached to being a woman in business?
MO: Of course, and I would be lying if I didn’t say that being a woman, meant I had to work harder to earn the respect of others and to get where I am today. I always knew I could do the job, and do it well, but it was about showing to others that I had what it took and I guess believing in myself enough to not care what others thought!
You need a thick skin to manage any large company, and I’ve certainly developed one.
PL: So what does a day in the life of a Managing Director look like?
MO: Emails- lots of emails! As Managing Director I am responsible for overseeing all aspects of the business. My role is a mix of marketing, human resources, legal obligations and the opening of new offices while also working closely with Peter and keeping him informed on key aspects of the business.
I am also closely involved with all of our Department Managers and Licensees.
PL: What do you believe has been the driving factor for your success and why?
MO: I believe I am where I am today professionally because of my hard work, dedication and perhaps most importantly, my loyalty to the company. While I believe in a work life balance, I have put in a lot of extra hours and really poured my heart and soul into the Group over the past 15 years. I live and breathe Peard Real Estate and take my job very seriously. I have also had a lot of support from my colleagues which has made my job a lot easier.
PL: Who is Maree Overton outside of work?
MO: At home, I am a mum to a 20 year old daughter and 18 year old son. I’m a massive sports fans- particularly footy. My husband, Simon, and I are passionate Eagles supporters and members and attend the home games regularly. My family and friends mean everything to me and I love nothing more than going to dinners and catch ups with those closest to me.
In my spare time, I love keeping fit and try to get to the gym as often as I can.
PL: Is your family supportive of your highly demanding job?
MO: Most definitely. I would not been able to commit so much time and energy to my role without the total support of my husband Simon and children, Caitlin and Lachlan. As you can imagine in this role you spend a lot of time at work and they have always understood the demands that come with it.
Simon is one in a million. He always ensures that things are done around the home if I have to put in the long hours at the office, which makes my life so much easier. I’m exceptionally lucky!
PL: What has been your most memorable business achievement since joining the Peard Group?
MO: I have had so many, but if I had to choose, it would have to be when our Hillarys office won the Top Office title at the REIWA Awards in 2011 for the first time. We could have never imagined that they would hold onto the title for 5 consecutive years to follow, but that initial win will always stay with me. I worked at the Hillarys office for 7 years so it meant a lot to me.
The Hillarys office was the first Peard Real Estate office and when it commenced business in 1997, there were only three staff operating from there. To be recognised as the number one selling office in WA was an incredibly humbling experience for myself, Peter and the entire Hillarys team. It was amazing to be a part of the milestone.
PL: What is the greatest challenge facing the real estate industry at the moment?
MO: Speaking about the Perth market in particular, it has certainly taken a slight hit in the last financial year. The mining sector downturn has hurt us a little, creating uncertainty among home owners and buyers alike. For our company, it has still been a very successful and profitable year. We have had to think outside the box and launch new initiatives to combat the market and our competition and it has paid off.
We are still quietly confident that our company can remain resilient in any market, through our strong customer focus and the trust in our innovative brand.
PL: What does the future hold for the Peard Group?
MO: The Peard Group will continue to grow and evolve. We are the best in the business, and we don’t plan to change that. We are quietly confident that we will be recognised as the Top Group in WA in the coming months as we continue to dominate the market with our leading edge marketing and sales techniques. It’s a really exciting time to be a part of the Group - we have many new initiatives in the pipeline and there is always something happening. Let me put it this way – there is never a dull moment.