Residing in Kew on the edge of West Hawthorn and Abbotsford, Marshall White’s director of property management, Paula Matlock, says she wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.
‘We can walk everywhere. We walk down to the Yarra and to St James Park with Freddy, our dog. Everything is so accessible from this location. We get on the tram to the MCG and to restaurants in Richmond. Sometimes if I work from the Hawthorn office, I walk to work. Sophia, our youngest daughter is at MLC and we walk home together,’ says Paula.
It was the size of the house that drew Paula and her husband, Andrew, to the home they have lived in for the past nine years. With five children, they were looking for a six bedroom home in the area that could accommodate them all.
‘Home to me is a place where you feel completely comfortable. It’s a safe space with your loved ones. We spend a lot of time entertaining and it’s where we gather as a family. It’s something I miss because I travel a lot. Home is the place I long for,’ says Paula.
Paula grew up in Eltham and her parents still reside in the suburb. Having previously lived in East Malvern, Paula wanted to be closer to home.
‘From Kew, it’s very easy to get on the Eastern Freeway and go to visit them. That was really important to me,’ says Paula.
Juggling the time demands of her role as a director with motherhood hasn’t been difficult for Paula because she says her children are all very self sufficient and independent. They range in age, the youngest, Sophia is 16, then there’s Millie, who is 18, Ben is 20, Oliver is 23 and Max is 26.
Paula explains motherhood changed her in ways she didn’t expect and it made her appreciate the relationship she has with her own mother.
‘I don’t think you really know about mother love until you have a child. I think motherhood has also softened me a bit and I’m certainly very organised as a result of being a mother! But I also learned very early on to surrender to the kids. I had to forget about having a perfect house all the time,’ says Paula.
Coming from a family of five, Paula says she once said out loud ‘I would like to have five children’ and then laughs as she playfully warns to be careful what you wish for. She explains it’s mostly been smooth sailing having a large family, but that’s not to say there haven’t been a few hiccups along the way.
‘At one point I had four of them at four different schools, with four different newsletters. From time to time I haven’t been quite up to date and the kids have gone back to school after the holidays on the wrong day and I’ve missed a couple of deadlines. We’ve had some little disasters like that along the way,’ says Paula.
Aside from her family and career, Paula’s passion is trekking. About three years ago, when Ben went away on schoolies, Paula and a few of her friends thought they would do their own trip.
‘We did the Bay of Fires walk in Tasmania. It was absolutely amazing and ignited my love for these trips. Each year we have done a significant walk. Last year we did the Twelve Apostles, this year we did Margaret River. We usually do other smaller ones throughout the year and we walk a lot on weekends as a group. We’ve done walks for charity as well including Coast Trek and 7 Bridges Walk in Sydney,’ says Paula.
Approaching her 16 year anniversary at Marshall White, Paula says she fell into the industry 34 years ago, following in her father’s footsteps.
‘I did not choose real estate, it chose me! I took a gap year after finishing high school and never looked back,’ says Paula.
After dabbling in sales, Paula realised it wasn’t for her and she landed a job as a property manager. Back then, things were very different.
‘When I started we didn’t have computers. People would line up on rent day with cash to pay their rent. We would have to hand receipt their rent on what was called a ‘Kalamazoo System’. It was a receipt that was carbon copied onto a ledger card and each tenant had their own ledger card. At the end of the month we would get all the ledger cards together and then write a statement, hand write a cheque, staple it and put it in the post and send it to the owner,’ says Paula.
Despite working in real estate, Paula laughs as she recalls some mistakes she has made when it comes to her own property purchases.
‘I’ve made my share of mistakes. Few and plenty. Just because I work in real estate doesn’t mean I know! The first house I ever bought was back in the late eighties, when the interest rates went up to 18 per cent. I did a very quick reno and sold it for the same price, if not less than when I bought it,’ says Paula.
As the director of the property management team, Paula’s role isn’t so much about property these days, it’s more about managing and leading the team. Paula also acts as a mentor to the younger team members. She explains that despite some progression, it’s still a very male dominated industry and that’s something she hopes changes one day.
‘I hope to be able to inspire some of the younger women in the office and hopefully pave the way for them,’ says Paula.
A self confessed ‘control freak’, it was difficult for Paula to delegate and hand off tasks in the early days as a director. She says the best advice she received was from Marshall White owner, James Connell.