Real Stories: A graduate who took a gamble on real estate and won!
"I’m a Senior Partner in Property Management at PIA. It’s an incredible role and I can’t imagine working anywhere else, which is ironic because I entered the real estate industry on a whim.
I studied international relations, accounting, as well as translation and interpreting studies. I have a master's degree in all three. I studied for a long time, so when I finished my degrees I was ready to work. I had a friend who worked at PIA and she spoke very highly of the company. She told me that there was a leasing agent position, which needed to be filled. It sounded interesting and so I put my resume forward.
That was almost six years ago. My job title has undergone a lot of changes in the interim but this is definitely the right place for me".
How George's unusual trajectory and skills has made him the property manager he is today
"Although on the surface it may seem like my university education has nothing to do with property management, or even real estate, I find I use the knowledge that I gained through my degrees on a daily basis.
While our systems automate most of the routine transactions, my accounting skills are used all the time in property management because they relate to the bigger picture of asset management, which is a huge part of the job. As a portfolio manager I’m looking after landlord’s assets and showing them how to achieve a good return on their investment.
At PIA we also have the unique opportunity to build our own business within the business, so my accountancy skills help contribute business acumen, and help me manage my team.
I used to think my international relations degree was too academic to be applicable. Now I realise that the degree has shaped the way I think. When I see an issue, I analyse it, find the root of the problem and present it to my stakeholder, alongside a workable resolution. I can’t tell someone what to do but I can advise them to the best of my abilities.
Studying international relations has made me adept at problem solving. It’s one of my favourite parts of the job. It’s also something that my customers compliment me on in my reviews. I really like to resolve their issues.
I’m originally from China and spoke Mandarin when I came to Australia. My studies in translation and interpreting taught me not just to speak but how to communicate. I know how to reach people in a clear and concise manner. More importantly, the degree showed me some of the different ways to form a bridge between people. The most fundamental requirement of my job is to bridge communication between the different stakeholders in a tenancy - the landlords and tenants - and that’s something that I always deliver on".
Philosophy - The Property Manager who always listens
"I really believe in doing what’s right and will go above and beyond to achieve this. There was a recent case, where an insurance company refused to compensate a landlord with the amount that I felt the landlord deserved. I looked through the fine print and found a clause that required the insurance company to pay. When they refused, I requested further clarification on this issue from NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) clarification in order to compel the insurance company to rightly reimburse the landlord.
I would go this far for every one of my stakeholders. A lot of property-management companies only care about the owner but PIA is focused on the tenant too. The landlord pays us a management fee but it’s the tenant who pays the rent. We know that we wouldn’t exist without both of them and we value them equally.
When it comes to working with the two, I have a very simple mantra: “Be quiet and listen.” The nature of my role is that people only tend to contact me when there’s a problem or liability. Property Managers are the middle party and exist to make everyone else’s life easier. If you aren’t listening – and keeping those lines of communication open – you are not going to be able to provide the customer with the best solution".
The perks of the job
"I get a lot of satisfaction from seeing a happy customer, especially if I’ve exceeded their expectations. I will always rise to a challenge and do not stop until I’ve done everything possible to help.
It’s an attitude that I see in my colleagues too, which is why PIA has been such a great company to work for. You can get lost in a big organisation but at PIA everyone is warm and enthusiastic, and the culture encourages us to grow our own businesses, our skills and create profitable portfolios. The size of the company really reflects just how many opportunities there are here".
For a free property appraisal or to enquire about property management & leasing, you can contact George on
P: 02 9192 2828 (ext 682) E: Georgezhou@pia.com.au
2 Australia Avenue, Sydney Olympic Park NSW 2127
[Source: Interview with George (Si) Zhou, February 2020]
The Property Investors Alliance (PIA) is one of Australia’s most exciting and fastest growing property and real estate platforms. Established in 2005, and with more than 400 staff/employees, PIA provide property related services to more than 10,000 private investors and home owners, 6500 landlords and more than 13,000 tenants
Love the thought of building your career or establishing your own business in property? If so, we’re seeking the business leaders of tomorrow.
Whether you’re a sales person, a property manager, or a committed individual, we can assist you in building your business by providing the training, support, marketing, administration resources and teamwork to grow a fulfilling business. Build your business at PIA, one of Australia’s fastest growing real estate platforms. Our innovative technology platform and approach to customer service is transforming the property management industry.
Your journey to the career that you’ll love starts here