In 2013 Niall Kenny was just 27 when he left his job in property management, his family and life as he knew it in Dublin to travel the world.
With 12 months’ reprieve from his Irish employer, Niall set out to backpack around Asia. Two months later he landed in Melbourne to meet up with his college mates for the British & Irish Lions rugby tour. After watching the third rugby test in Sydney, Niall returned to be with his mates in Melbourne.
With a property economics degree from Ireland under his belt, Niall set out to find work in the strata industry.
Frustrated by the response he received from various recruitment agencies telling him he didn’t have any ‘Australian experience’, he googled Owners Corporation Managers and started applying directly to strata companies. He was determined to get whatever ‘Australian experience’ he needed indeed.
Success is about taking advantage of opportunities
Fortunately for us, VBCS was one of the strata companies on Niall’s hit list.
He sent his letter and resume to Richard Eastwood, then General Manager at VBCS, and within a week he had an interview, was offered a position, and the rest is history.
With just a working visa to his name, Niall was offered the opportunity to be sponsored by the company if he passed his 6 months’ probation period.
So, with that same Irish determination, he buddied up with fellow colleagues to learn the ‘Australian’ way, in preparation to manage his new portfolio.
Niall recalled a funny conversation with another community manager about plumbing in buildings higher than three storeys.
Not used to his thick Irish accent or the way the Irish drop the letter h in th words, he repeated his question ‘is a booster pump required when the building is over three levels high?
She was still confused by his question and laughed as she replied, ‘Trees? What trees. Trees have absolutely nothing to do with it, Niall’.
Just when he thought he had the hang of the ‘Australian’ way in strata Niall hosted his first annual general meeting.
When it was time to cover the financials, Niall announced the owners corporation had 20,000 euros in their sinking fund.
One owner raised his hand: ‘Um excuse me Niall, exactly how much is that in Australian dollars?’ while the others owners had a good laugh.😊
From probation to PR
Thankfully Niall was a quick learner and after passing his probation period with flying green and gold colours, VBCS offered to sponsor him – meaning he could stay and work for the company for four years.
Just two years into his sponsorship, VBCS kindly agreed to nominate Niall for permanent residency (PR) and in late 2017 this was granted.
‘I was being looked after by VBCS and really enjoying the variation of my work. Getting my PR was the next step for me. I work hard during the week and wee bit of play at the weekends, Melbourne just felt like home.’
Today is not just another day, it’s a new opportunity
With the support of VBCS behind him, Niall made the most of the opportunities presented to him and has enjoyed a fast-tracked career in strata.
From Community Manager he was promoted to Senior Community Manager and was the first manager in VBCS to set up a place management program in 2016 at the new development, Caulfield Heath.
After a successful integration, Niall continues to manage this community which has since added Stage 2 of the development, Caulfield Village, which now includes 854 residential units in total.
Over the past 12 months Niall held the interim Regional Manager’s position for VBCS whilst juggling his own portfolio and managing project IPSUM.
Now that project IPSUM has successfully been rolled out nationally, Niall is back full time as Senior Community Manager, for now.
Even though roles have changed for both, Richard and Niall still work closely together.
‘Niall is everything you would want in a business. He is talented, driven, loyal and extremely passionate.
‘I’d like to say that I identified these characteristics when I first interviewed him all those years ago. But truth be known, he was fresh off the plane from Ireland and I struggled to understand anything he was saying!
‘In all seriousness, I’m proud to have watched Niall grow as a person as well as a team member and colleague. And I’m glad Smarter Communities sponsored his citizenship, I’m looking forward to working with him for many more years to come.
We are certainly lucky to have him as part of our Smarter Communities family.’
On July 7 Niall became an Australian citizen. Yes, he’s even a fully-fledged Carlton supporter.
There’s not a day that passes that he does not count his blessings that he was offered sponsorship with VBCS.
‘I was in the right place at the right time. If I tried to get sponsored now, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be able to. Too many hoops to jump through. I’m very grateful to VBCS & Smarter Communities for the opportunities and continuous support throughout the journey.’
As Richard Branson once quoted – If somebody offers you an amazing opportunity but you are not sure you can do it, say yes then learn how to do it later!
That’s exactly what Niall did.
It’s true he had the tertiary qualifications and industry experience from Ireland to back up his resume, but Niall certainly learnt the Australian way whilst here in Melbourne at VBCS and now – ‘sorry mum’ – he’s an Australian.
If you’re looking to work with a company that rewards talent and offers great opportunities to build your career in strata, that supports your goals, offers flexible work conditions, attractive staff benefits and the opportunity for growth, contact Rebecca Henwood, Senior Business Partner-People and Culture at Smarter Communities.