5 QUESTIONS WITH CAMERON LEGGATT, FRASERS PROPERTY AUSTRALIA'S NEW EXECUTIVE GENERAL MANAGER OF RESIDENTIAL DEVELOPMENT
Cameron Leggatt is a man on a mission. After almost a decade working for Frasers Property, he recently stepped into the role of Executive General Manager of the company's new residential business. With ambitious plans and some exciting new projects in the pipeline, he talks to us about what lies ahead.
Tell us a bit about you, Cam. Where are you from, and how did you come to land in your new role?
My career has pretty much always been in and around property. I started out life as a valuer and then went to Macquarie working on major property transactions and turnarounds both here and in the US. Next year is my 10-year anniversary working for Frasers actually. It’s a big milestone and one I’m very happy to be celebrating with a team of people I consider to be the best in the business. Stepping into the role of EGM of the residential business has been pretty momentous. [Former EGM and now- CFO] Anthony Boyd left pretty big shoes to fill, so it’s been equal parts daunting and thrilling to take on the job. I mean, we’ve got 350+ staff, a $10 billion pipeline of projects, offices in four capital cities - it’s a big responsibility. But I do have a true passion for property. And travelling around the different states over the last couple of months, meeting the teams and seeing the projects, I see passion and energy and excitement reflected right back at me. You can’t ask for better than that.
It’s been said that property is Australia’s favorite conversation. What’s the substance of that conversation at the moment?
Well, there’s no doubt that we’ve just ridden through some choppy market conditions. But I think we’ve found the floor, and in the case of Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney we’re seeing improvement for the first time in many, many months. Part of that seems to be driven by a swathe of stimulus conditions that all happened fairly close together after the last election. But I also think recovery is happening because - despite what the papers might have you believe - this wasn’t a boom/bust cycle; rather a correction that has brought conditions back to some level of normalcy. And frankly, that’s a great thing for buyers.
What about quality concerns? There’s been a lot of talk about apartment build quality after the Mascot and Opal Towers issues in NSW. What do you make of this?
I really feel for those homeowners. It’s just a tremendously difficult and stressful situation for everybody involved. It probably goes without saying that the media coverage hasn’t helped much, but our experience has been largely positive. It’s true that some customers are looking at our apartment product closely, asking educated questions, and demanding to “kick the tyres” a bit more - in my opinion, that’s a very good thing. It gives us a chance to talk about our quality assurance processes, the steps we take through design and construction to deliver what we say we’ll deliver, and the rectification processes we take if and when any defects occur. The reality is that any new building - let alone one that’s multiple stories high - is going to have some defects along the way. What matters is how you deal with it. And our people and processes are second to none. You can’t survive for more 90 years in this business if you don’t deliver quality product. What we’re finding is that buyers are seeking us out precisely because of that legacy and reputation.Speaking of legacy, you’ve had a few high profile projects come to a close recently - Central Park, Putney Hill and Discovery Point in Sydney come to mind. What’s it like to revisit those places now ?
It’s the greatest joy, to be perfectly honest. I don’t think of us as developers; we’re placemakers and community builders. We start with a bit of dirt and our imaginations, and a decade or so later - if we did our jobs right - something extraordinary happens. Neighbours know neighbours, kids play together in the parks, shop owners and restauranteurs are much-loved members of the community fabric. There’s buzz and activity and life and every kind of family dynamic playing out as people put down their roots and create their own legacies. It’s just the best part of my job to go back and see what we’ve been able to do to support that.
So what does the future hold?What are you focused on?
How much time have you got? There’s a lot! In simple terms, I’m focused on a few big themes. The first is nurturing and elevating our culture of creating the best customer experience we can. This is really what we mean by Live proud. We know that property plays such a huge role in people’s lives and is a major achievement, so everything we do must contribute it to make it something you love. It’s why our culture of working proud must help our customers to live proud.
The second thing is launching a whole bunch of new projects to market over the course of the next 12 months. There’s at least one in every state, with each bringing something unique and exciting to its local market. So stay tuned for more information coming out on those soon. And if you’re a Prosperity member wanting advance notification when we launch these new projects, I encourage you to get in touch with our Customer Care team and let them know.
The third major thing is investment. We’re looking at a number of exciting new sites and locations around the country that we think could become future Frasers Property communities. I’m particularly enjoying that, because it means I’m getting to use my valuer skills again after all these years!
New edition out now - Live Proud Spring/Summer 2019. This latest edition tells the story of our 95 year history of creating communities in Australia, as well as many more customer stories. We hope you enjoy the read.