Chat with a Chair: Drenka

As part of the Chat with a Chair series, this month we spoke to the Chair of the NSW Hotel Property Committee, Drenka Andjelic who is the Managing Director at Construction Assignments. See below for Drenka’s thoughts on the property industry, her career and the hotel committee’s priorities.

What are the committee’s priorities for the next 12 months?

The Hotel Property Committee’s big priority is the impact of the growing share economy on hotel investment stakeholders. We have this year worked hard with lobbying for the regulation and levelling the playing field for accommodation providers. Traditional and commercial accommodation providers have invested heavily in real estate, compliance regulations and navigated planning red-tape to operate in Australia.

We are also committed to providing excellent industry events with our February Hotel Outlook and solid networking opportunities with our smaller member briefings and new Hotel Spotlight Series.  These events have a nice industry point of difference with hotel investment stakeholder attendance.

What do you think are the characteristics of a great committee member?

An engaged and open-minded industry stakeholder that’s inclusive is a great start. I’ve found it helps if they can also think beyond established industry norms. A commitment to making it fun is a bonus for the enjoyment & effectiveness of the committee. We need chiefs but it also helps to have motivated doers.

What is the biggest issue facing the property industry in NSW currently?

I believe the biggest issues are planning certainty and true diversity.

Planning certainty is a no brainer if we are to attract our fair share of growth and investment in NSW. We score poorly compared with Australian capital and global cities. Our planning red tape is significant opportunity lost for employment, investment, housing affordability and growth. 

I have an engineering degree and have worked across property & construction industries for over 25 years. While we are finally making some headway into the gender imbalance, I question the pace of change and question the authenticity of the motivation. We seem to be hard selling diversity as being good for business. I question why we need a business case for women to be included and represented in management.  Achieving diversity beyond gender in property also has its challenges based on our low starting point.  I’m jumping off this soapbox without highlighting the number of white men in top industry’s jobs...or did I just squeeze that in? 

What does "success" mean to you in terms of your work as a Committee member?

I see success as aligned industry figureheads leveraging our expertise, networks and reputations to make a positive difference. And, having fun. Also, capturing opportunities to demonstrate authentic leadership and serve as positive and accessible role models. 

What was your first role within the property industry and what roles have you had since?

I was a Building Engineer with AMP Property back in the early 90’s. I job-shared with another engineering student for 6 years with alternating semesters. I remain grateful for the life-long friends and network I developed in this role. It’s a network of industry greats that I’m extremely proud to know. They continue to feed me with inspiration, laughs & project commissions. 

If you weren’t working in property, where could you see yourself working? 

I’m pretty sure it would be winemaking. Whilst this sounds like a big departure from property, I’ve always seen it as suitable application for my technical and creative pursuits and strengths. The marriage of art and science is appealing along with the rewards that come with producing something amazing that can be shared with good humans.

Using only one word, how would you describe the Property Council of Australia? 

Powerful.