She comes from a long line of wine producers and isn’t averse to the odd drop herself. But it was through a career in real estate that Suzie Hamilton-Flanagan’s thirst for success was finally sated.
A 20-year veteran of Australia’s competitive real estate market, Suzie Hamilton-Flanagan’s investment education began almost before she could walk. A direct descendent of the pioneering McLaren Vale vintners behind Hamilton Wines, she was first exposed to real estate and the fortitude required to carve a successful career out of it by accompanying her parents on their weekly property scouting adventures.
“My father’s work ethic is amazing. He is still working and running a medical practice at 80 years old. He was my first true mentor. As a young girl, I spent hours with my mum researching and driving around looking at potential properties. So, with the combination of my father’s professionalism and my mother’s ability and drive in negotiating and buying of real estate it was a good recipe for success.”
Hamilton-Flanagan was studying radio production when she was introduced to the man who would become her life partner and the father of her children. Having arrived in Adelaide from Sydney to take up a creative director position with advertising agency Young and Rubicam (Y&R) Adelaide, Marshall Flanagan sensed her eagerness to flex her creative muscle and did what he could to convince her to join him at the agency.
She duly did and a few years later – around the same time the pair exchanged wedding rings – Flanagan received the news he was being transferred to Y&R’s Detroit office. It would prove a fantastic experience from which they would grow both professionally and personally. “Americans have a real ‘can do’ attitude. Living it first-hand really took me to another level of understanding about being a professional in the workplace,” says Hamilton-Flanagan.
She was 28 by the time she and Flanagan made their first significant investment together. Their tentative foot on the property ladder came following their return from the US when the couple landed a “gorgeous” character sandstone villa in Maylands, South Australia – and an 18% interest rate.
Despite her lifelong fascination with bricks and mortar, it wasn’t until after the arrival of their children Olivia (now 22) and Henry (19) that she contemplated earning a crust from real estate.
Eager to return to work following her pregnancies, but unable to commit to the long hours demanded of a career in advertising, Hamilton-Flanagan was quick to recognise that an offer to work in property management at North Adelaide agency Colley and Co presented just the opportunity she had been hoping for.
“Without doubt the key learnings from my time in advertising were marketing-based. Know your consumer and consult with them through market research. Above all, advertising taught me about creating a point of difference and having a plan moving forward.”
Hamilton-Flanagan remained under the guidance of principal John Colley for 5 years, before her natural aptitude for working with people saw her turn her hand to sales. The move proved a successful one with her selling her first $2 million property within 18 months.
Her natural leadership abilities were soon recognised on the broader stage and in 2008 she accepted her first management role in property management at Toop & Toop Real Estate. In 2012, she was offered the role of general manager of Harris Property Management, leading the then young boutique agency to become one of the largest growing and most successful property management agencies in Australia.
Her current role is as head of property management for inner city Sydney agency BresicWhitney where, as well as overseeing a burgeoning consultancy team, she is responsible for a rent roll encompassing more than 2300 properties.
Despite the demands, Hamilton-Flanagan says she continues to enjoy her work because of its diversified nature. “The thing I like about property management is growing, developing and running a business unit. It’s complex, challenging and multifaceted,” she says.
She also sees it as her responsibility to build an effective and collaborative team that gets the best return for its clients in service, communication and financial freedom through its role in wealth creation. Clearly this approach has worked well for her with awards in excellence from respected agencies during her tenure.
Her children and husband play an important part in her life when she’s not working, as does making the most of all the calming distractions her adopted city has on its doorstep.
“I love football and can think of nothing better than watching a game of AFL. There are a lot of similarities between business and sport. I also enjoy sampling good wine, going to new and interesting restaurants with friends – I love a good food experience and Sydney has plenty on offer.”