belinda-hawes SCA winner 2023 Strata Community Manager of the Year

2023 SCA Strata Community
Manager of the Year

A Remarkable Strata Community Manager Setting New Industry Standards 

We are thrilled to shine a spotlight on Belinda Hawes, an exceptional Strata Community Manager who has earned a prestigious accolade at the recent 2023 SCA awards – the coveted “Strata Community Manager of the Year” award. Based in our Oran Park office, Belinda’s unwavering dedication, extraordinary customer service, and profound expertise have firmly established her as a trailblazer in the strata management industry. 

Belinda’s journey has been characterised by her unparalleled commitment to providing a great service to her clients. Her profound understanding of the intricate world of strata, coupled with her innovative problem-solving skills, truly sets her apart as a leader in the field. Belinda’s ability to navigate challenges with poise and deliver tailor-made solutions tailored to each unique situation is truly commendable and deserving of this prestigious recognition.

Mark Lever interviews Belinda about her recent success and what the future holds.

Q: Belinda, tell us about your philosophy on customer service in the strata management industry?

I came into strata originally from the commercial property side of things. It was all about business decisions and there was not a lot of emotion to deal with. Strata was completely different. It took a while for me to get my head around why and it was not until I bought my own home and started a family that I really understood what we are dealing with.

For a lot of people, it is their only asset and even more importantly it is their home. All of our clients are someone’s mum or grandparents or children and they deserve to be treated the way that I would want a member of my family to be treated, with respect and understanding and kindness.

Q: Can you provide a real-life example from your current role that reflects your customer service approach?

Many of my owners are new to strata living. I enjoy personally interacting with them, building relationships, and educating new strata committees. I am genuinely interested in getting to know them, about what else is happening in their lives and anything they want to share or is on their minds. This helps in creating a solid foundation for a thriving community.

A recent example involves a gas leak where I was dealing with an emotional client on a Saturday while at my children’s soccer match. We were eventually able to resolve a situation which had caused a lot of anxiety and inconvenience by maintaining open communication and focussing on the problem.

Q: Dealing with difficult customers can be challenging. Could you share an example of converting a disgruntled customer into a satisfied one?

When people’s homes are affected, it can be very emotional for them. I refocus their attention on the core problem while empathising with their situation. This approach helped manage residents’ frustrations.

One instance involved addressing the concerns of new owners in a development unhappy with landscaping and common area maintenance. After multiple meetings and site visits, we devised a plan that satisfied everyone involved.

Q: In your role, what do you find most challenging?

Strata management involves dealing with a high volume of requests and managing differing opinions within communities. The diversity of opinions requires navigating complex dynamics to find common ground and consensus.

Managing a defects process with committees that are too busy to respond can be particularly tough. In one case, I decided I needed to focus on getting just one committee member fully engaged in the process. That lead to productive negotiations with the developer and eventually avoiding costly legal actions while keeping the rest of the owners confident that someone was looking after their interests.

Q: What sets you apart from other strata managers?

I’m particularly proud of my track record of resolving defects without litigation is a significant differentiator. This maintains control over the process and fosters strong client relationships by solving the problem without the huge legal bills and lengthy delays of going down the legal path.

That’s not to say legal processes don’t have a place. In one development with non-compliant cladding, we were able to safeguard the owners’ interests by referring to another court case in a legal letter of demand that succeeded in kick-starting negotiations to have the cladding replaced at the builders’ cost. The solicitor’s role was then limited to drafting a settlement deed as we did not need to litigate.

Q: What are your career goals for the next three years?

I want to continue growing my skills and my contribution to the sector. My aim is to step up my accreditation as a Fellow Strata Community Manager and lead a team with an expansive portfolio of complex schemes. I also would like an opportunity to contribute as a volunteer on SCA committees.

Q: What advice would you give someone looking for a career in strata management?

Go into it with your eyes open. Be prepared for long hours, be a people person and be resilient as you will be tested regularly. Look for a company that is supportive and understands the pressures you will be facing and has experienced, knowledgeable people that you can lean on for advice.

Importantly, enjoy learning as you will never stop. But you will also find it incredibly rewarding so I’d say go for it.


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