In my lifetime, I have been privileged to enjoy a rewarding career spanning three different industries. I have done this at a time when many individuals had just one professional vocation, and many women had none at all. As an active business leader in the property development sector, I am regularly asked, what gave me the confidence to pursue this unique path.
In the day to day, we are caught in the details of our work. We stand so close to the painting of our own lives, yet when I step back to take a macro-view of my profession, I see two clear factors which have enabled me to thrive.
Above all else, it has been the diversity of experience, and my determination to keep going. Even when the odds seem stacked against success, these two qualities have allowed me, along with my co-directors, Christopher Paul and Peter Lechte to continually grow the Lechte legacy.
But how has diversity manifested itself in my career, and why has my determination ensured that this experience has been harnessed to its full capacity?
Read on to find out.
My mother was a champion sportsperson. An educated, powerhouse of a woman she was well respected, both in the rural Victorian town we grew up in and farther afield. With her example set, it wasn’t asked of us to be high achievers – it was expected.
Coupled with my mother’s renown was my father’s success as a medical professional and business owner. With their example, from a young age I was determined to succeed at whatever I put my hand to. Coming from a well-respected family in a small town, I felt like a big fish in a small pond and was eager to take on the world in whatever profession I chose. This foundation of confidence that my family instilled in me has continued to stoke the fire of my professional determination in each of my vocations as an educator, marketer and property developer.
To enhance my determination, I have had the good fortune of being surrounded by great professional mentors. People like John Elliott, Richard Pratt, Leon L’Huillier and Gil Hoskins all saw my tenacity, taking it upon themselves to encourage me in my vocation.
The diversity of my career experience set me up for success in my transition into becoming a founding Director of one of Melbourne’s foremost property development companies – Lechte Corporation.
The first chapter of my working life was as a physical education teacher. My work as an educator took me to England where I accepted a senior role at a challenging school. This tested my ability and determination in every way, but when I returned to Australia I knew that I would be able to successfully handle anything that came in my direction.
Returning to Melbourne I accepted a role at Templestowe College. It was here a chance turn of events with two Australian Football League representatives became the catalyst for my progression to becoming the first female Marketing Manager for an AFL club in my work with the Fitzroy Lions, and then later as the Marketing Manager for Carlton Football Club. My time as a leader in the AFL both tested and honed my expertise, giving me the business acumen, agility and drive to excel as a leader in property development.
Property development has yielded both the greatest challenges and the most profound rewards in my career to date. It is a diverse vocation which requires the utmost dedication to excellence. To work collaboratively with family and long-standing partners is true success. To date we have come together for more than 25 years to envisage new and better ways of living for our purchasers. Our work has changed the landscape of Melbourne’s real estate sector. It continues to give myself and my valued compatriots great pride, which only serves to fuel the fire of Lechte Corporation’s purpose.
Since its inception, the fostering of long-standing collaborations has been integral to Lechte Corporation’s approach.
Effective business collaborations require trust, humility and respect. This respect must be mutual. It must be born of a foundational regard for the process and the project at hand.
Advances in technology have made collaboration more possible than ever. Digital platforms have made partnerships available at the click of a button, giving us access to streams of new work from around the world. However, at Lechte it has always been the quality of the collaboration - not the quantity - that is paramount to us.
In my time in both the finance and property sectors, I have seen firsthand what it takes to make partnerships succeed. At their best, collaborations keep us sharp. As iron sharpens iron, the rigorous workshopping of ideas between trusted partners yields stronger results.
Here are three key collaborators which Lechte is proud to partner with consistently.
Collaboration is more than the end result.
Yes, these long-standing partnerships give us the satisfaction of seeing our vision bought to life across Melbourne. But more than this, we take pride in the process of collaboration. In the camaraderie of working meritoriously with partners like Plus, Abacus, Crema, Mim Design and more, we deliver a product of superior quality - one that exceeds what could be executed by any isolated approach.
We cannot afford to proceed alone in property. Our purchasers deserve greater than that, and we celebrate the long-lasting partnerships that Lechte is set to enjoy for years to come.
An old maxim in business warns that “if you grow fast, you grow thin.” As a leader in the Australian property development community for over four decades, I have seen both organisations and developments grow at speed.
It is easy to be impressed by rapid growth. However, as someone personally familiar with the many stages of development, if I were to sight a defining factor to summate the process it would be this: robust development takes time. There can be no shortcuts.
At Lechte, this year alone we are in the construction stages of our Hawthorn project, Luminary and have impressive ventures ahead both east and west of the most liveable city in the world.
On the precipice of this influential era for Lechte, I believe it opportune to share with our esteemed community how our team ensure each Lechte project grows at a timely, and measured rate.
Leo Tolstoy once penned that “the two most powerful warriors are patience and time.” This is an apt thought to bear in mind during Lechte’s rigorous site acquisitions process. At best, acquisitions take a number of months but to secure sites of the calibre which Lechte seeks, it can take years.
The recent acquisition of our forthcoming West Melbourne project site was an almost two-year negotiation process. Working collaboratively to secure it, our team analysed how best to use the space out of respect for its unique position in the heart of an area set for regeneration.
Acquiring prized sites takes honesty, patience, negotiation and the utmost respect. It is slow relationship building and when done well, the outcomes are unparalleled.
In property development, we start on the outside. In a literal sense, this originates with the un-developed site directly informing our architectural response. Though we begin with the external, Lechte never loses sight of our final goal: to see our purchasers enjoy living in the spaces we create.
As a local developer with global expertise, Lechte want to stand out for the quality we produce. To achieve such quality takes time and dedication. Plus Architecture, SJB, Fender Katsalidis, MIM Design and more have all collaborated with us to deliver superior designs that advance Melbourne’s property landscape.
With our extensive heritage of Lechte ventures coming to fruition, the excitement of the construction stage of development remains as exhilarating as it did with our first project. To execute our vision, we work with the best craftsmen in the trade; superior establishments like Crema Group and Ironside.
Lechte projects offer premium amenity for our purchasers; facilities like extensive storage, wine cellars, and at Luminary, double lock-up garages. These inclusions result in greater privacy and liveability. However, in the initial construction stages it means we spend additional time underground laying strong foundations.
At our Carlton project, The Eminence, I still recall driving past the site on Queensberry Street wondering when it was going to come out of the ground! The Eminence took 22 months to execute, and to see it delivered within our timeline to a satisfied group of purchasers and collaborators was deeply rewarding.
At Lechte we have made a habit of striking the balance of not sacrificing quality for time. The projects themselves turn around in a matter of years, each of them a crucial piece of the Lechte story, one of a lifetime dedicated to creating a superlative offering.
Though we seldom refer to the Renaissance in business, when I think of mentorship it’s this word that comes to mind.
At university, my studies focussed on Renaissance history – a period with a rich culture of patronage, helping others both in industry art and religion. This reciprocity translated personally through identity and prestige to mentorship. It is a vital force that has shaped my career through experience with industry leaders, their generous time and advice, and through the tough love they often metered out.
Here are five key insights that I have gained through my experience.
Seek different mentors for different career stages.
My first professional mentor was Rodney Brott, a finance and banking professional. His maxim every morning was “read the research” which had farther reaching implications of being at work early, being diligent, ahead of the curve, informed and thorough.
Later Gil Hoskins, ex head of National Mutual was a critical part in my transition into property development. Though we work in a collaborative structure at Lechte Corporation, there is no doubt that my fellow directors Peter and Jennifer Lechte have played crucial roles in my growth in the property development industry.
My father was a Master at Scotch College and lecturer at Monash University. I was lucky enough to have experiences with him not only as a father and mentor, but to see him first hand within his profession both at Scotch and later at Monash.
Lastly, John McIntosh, the founder of McIntosh Securities, is someone I look up to as a successful business man. He always says to his children that life wasn’t meant to be easy, however it should always be enjoyable. To try to find happiness in success, and occasionally stop and smell the roses.
It is more than a professional development day.
Mentoring is a daily and ongoing process. It is a relationship that shows us that successful people are not perfect people, and that life creates opportunities and obstacles in equal measure which we can both bear and overcome.
It is essential to have mentors from all works of life.
From professional development, to community mindedness, to self-help and mental fortitude, having a wide net of mentors is key. Mine have come from multiple disciplines, and their breadth of experience has sharpened my expertise. It is this precise expertise that enables me to lead in the capacity I do today at Lechte Corporation.
Mentorship is about more than just getting ahead as an individual.
Monitorship goals are equally important in giving something back to the community.
At a charity and social leadership level I have great respect for people like Sam Soliman, a professional boxing athlete who also works with the Salvation Army. I also hold in great regard Kent Morris who has established an Indigenous arts program. These are two individuals who Lechte is proud to support in their community-based endeavours and professional growth.
You do not have to wait to participate in a set programme to benefit from mentoring. Align yourself to people who inspire you and who you can get access to. Give your time and energy to them, and over time build a relationship with them. If you can’t do this directly, go forth imitating their admirable qualities from afar.
Above all else, mentorship has taught me to be resilient. To have persistence in life. To learn from mistakes, and to be patient and caring in trying times.
I believe my diverse experience gives me great value as a mentor, and I am proud to be able to share what I have learned.
Luminary Hawthorn is pleased to announce the appointment of builder IRONSIDE as our construction partner for this prestigious project.
IRONSIDE is a Melbourne based builder whose proven accomplishment at delivering quality spaces is evident in each of their projects, all of which have been executed with timeliness and the utmost respect for detail.
Flexible, adaptable, skilled and responsive, IRONSIDE pride themselves on creating exceptional spaces that are designed for living and built for life. With this exciting appointment, we are pleased to report that our construction program is underway and still on track for delivery by May 2019.
"We are very excited to be appointed as the Contractor for the construction of Luminary apartments. At IRONSIDE, we pride ourselves on delivering boutique developments of exceptional quality. Our relentless pursuit of perfection is underpinned by prudent process, professionalism and enduring relationships. Lechte Corporation’s vision for these stunning residences aligns with our core values, and together we are looking forward to delivering a truly remarkable project."
- Luke Skurrie
Managing Director, IRONSIDE
How have you seen the Lechte team grow in the past year?
In 2017 I have seen our team grow in many ways and we have come through stronger, closer and more focussed. Peter, Chris and I all have strong opinions and we voice them, workshopping vigorously to find the best solutions for our purchasers.
We argue about everything; taking each detail to task and understanding them in new ways. That process of interrogation has seen us develop the most exquisite dwellings for our clients.
What have you learned about your purchasers in 2017?
That they are very savvy. You mustn’t underestimate your purchasers’ knowledge of the market. They read widely, they are educated and intelligent. To succeed in building fruitful relationships with your clients you must speak eye to eye with them, and we are grateful for the fulfilling relationships we have built with ours.
Who have you appreciated working with in 2017?
We thoroughly enjoy and respect our ongoing rapport with Abacus Property Group. As always, we could not achieve all that we do without our esteemed design partners, and we have been fortunate to collaborate with Plus Architecture in the past year. Our close relationship with the family and construction company Crema continues to yield great rewards, and last – but never least - I could not forget to mention my closest comrades, the team at Lechte.
What have been your most memorable moments?
We were privileged last year to make time in our schedule for travel. Having the opportunity to seek out the best in international art, design and architecture for our clients is essential to the Lechte ethos.
We visited The W in Barcelona, designed by architect Ricardo Boffil. The design was exquisite. From the floor plans to the fixtures, Boffil’s work created an uplifting sense of ease. It is a refinement that we greatly look forward to incorporating in our projects closer to home.
If you could describe your approach to business in three words, what would they be?
Challenge. Succeed. Excel.
You have got to challenge yourself to achieve excellence, and you have got to love the journey of that challenge. Rainer Maria Rilke speaks to this in a similar ilk in "Letters to a Young Poet," when he talks of "loving the questions."
At Lechte we have always loved the question of how to deliver a superior experience for our purchasers, and it is our deepest satisfaction to rise to the challenge of delivering this.
What is the Lechte team most looking forward to in 2018?
As always, we are most looking forward to doing the work, and to the simple joy of working together.
We aren’t creating buildings for our own ego, we do it for the art form. We do it because it’s exciting, it’s enjoyable, and because there is nothing we would rather put our minds to.
For over 25 years the name Lechte has been at the forefront of inspired apartments. Lechte’s refined approach to securing sites with unparalleled prospects is a sophisticated hybrid of experience and intuition, honed through Co-founder and Director Peter Lechte’s 40 years of experience in property.
What do you look for when searching for a Lechte site?
Location, location, location. We exclusively look in places we believe are set for growth, or have already achieved a degree of renewal which we believe the Lechte brand would enhance. I’ve been in property for over 40 years now, in that time I’ve been privileged to work with leaders who have helped sharpen my ability to spot a unique site that sparks interest in seconds.
From the outset we had a clear vision of who we were as a developer. We’ve never looked at other developers and tried to mimic their movements in the industry. For Lechte it’s always proved more exciting, and ultimately rewarding, to pursue areas and sites that aren’t on the radar as yet and bring our ethos and culture there.
How long is your due diligence process?
End to end, it could be anything up to about four years. There’s looking at the site, evaluation, doing the feasibility, the purchasing process. Then there’s planning approval which takes another year, selling the apartments and then you’ve got to build it. Development is a bit like the RMS Queen Mary – it takes a long time to turn around!
What percentage of prospective sites do you kill, and why don’t they pass the Lechte test?
Majority of them. In a viewing of 20 sites, you’d be lucky to see one pass the bar. Every site we’ve gone ahead with, I’ve had a gut feeling about. It’s intuition. It’s a form of muscle memory that’s been strengthened over decades of seeking out the best.
Once that gut feeling sets in we put the site through our feasibility scale. We interrogate every aspect of how that site is going to perform for our purchasers. How is it going to enrich an area’s local character, and how could it set the tone for an emerging area?
A Lechte site has to pass that process at the highest standard. You can think you’ve got the perfect site, but it’ll never work unless you’ve tested its mettle.
How important is it for you that a site delivers on Lechte’s brand?
It’s paramount. We’ve never adapted what we do to suit a location, instead we always lift the character of the area by bringing what we do best to it. We’ve done it time and again in locations like Abbotsford, St Kilda, Clayton and Elsternwick. We create inspiring spaces that become the backdrop to people’s lives. Having that person, our purchaser, in mind right from the start means we get the right location for the right people.
It doesn’t have to be the biggest site in the world either. We want to create landmark developments that elevate a local area, not overpower it. We want the people who engage with the building on a daily basis to appreciate the internal amenity, not just the architecture of our buildings.
Can you tell me about one that has excelled in delivering on your brand doing so?
The Eminence in Carlton. That has been a terrific project for us. We’ve had countless conversations with purchasers who say that living in The Eminence is one of the best things they’ve ever done.
Good sites like that are hard to find, but when you get them, and partner with visionary architects like SJB,Plus, and Fender Katsalidis like we do, you have the opportunity to change the entire character of an area.
Carlton’s a better place for The Eminence being there, and for the community that has made our dream their daily reality.
Sketching Melbourne’s skyline is a far cry from the expansive greenery of rural Tasmania where he grew up. But with a career in design spanning more than 20 years, Director of Plus Architecture, Ian Briggs has partnered with the best in built form.
This month we sat down with Ian to learn more about his long-standing collaboration with Lechte.
What made you move from Tasmania to Melbourne?
I had just finished my architecture degree at the University of Tasmania and wanted to start my career by learning from the best.
I arrived here in 2001 and was employed by Plus Architects straight away. I got to learn from the greats like Karl Fender, Nonda Katsalidis, Alfred de Bruyne and Charles Justin. It was incredible. The sheer pace of Melbourne compared to Tasmania. The excitement of feeling like anything was possible, if you only had enough time to draw it!
And honestly, I still feel that way. It’s still that exciting.
Lechte and Plus have collaborated on multiple developments over the years, from Element in Elsternwick to Campus in Clayton. What has it been like to be so intimately involved in the unfolding of the Lechte story?
Element and Campus feel like they have been part of a more expansive picture, reaching its richest expression with Eminence in Carlton, and soon Luminary Hawthorn.
Typically, a building represents everyone having to make a compromise somewhere along the way. Eminence however feels like everybody from the builder to the developer, architects and purchasers achieved a perfect, uncompromised end result. That’s the true unfolding of Lechte’s story, the continual progression towards uncompromising development.
Tell me more about Luminary Hawthorn as the "richest expression," of the Lechte vision?
Luminary has a seductive level of beauty to it. It’s a bit like a ballet dancer; it’s taken an awful lot of work to make it look effortless.
We drew that sweeping line of the roof on the paper and everyone just said, "that’s gorgeous." Everything that follows then flows from that initial sketch, right down to the fixtures and the lighting, every aspect should speak to those first few lines.
No one would perform a feat like Luminary if they didn’t think it was going to achieve an incredible result. Luminary is simplicity defined, and when a design is that simple there’s nowhere to hide your mistakes, so you can’t make any!
How long does the design process from start to sign off take?
It can be as quick as two weeks for a concept, but the hardest part is to keep it simple.
At Plus, we spend a lot of time listening to the site’s and client’s needs. We think about the soul and personality of the building because we know that when we craft a narrative behind the build, people get it.
What sets Lechte apart?
They understand the value of their brand and how good design can add to it as much as any bottom line success. For Peter, Jen and Chris, it’s not just about profit. It’s about enjoying the process and having meaningful relationships with the people you’re working with. It’s knowing the people who will call the project "home," will benefit from living in a thoughtful, refined space.
Lechte keep you honest. They question your design motivation, and when they see that motivation is truly inspired – they follow it through to completion.
Surrounded by relaxing parks, cool coffee spots and a cultured yet friendly local vibe, Hawthorn is a popular choice for those seeking a true Melbourne lifestyle – and Luminary might just be one of the best new residential opportunities we’ve seen there in a while.
Apartment buildings don’t get much more exclusive than this. Developers Lechte Corporation are creating just 22 stunning residences in a building that has a quiet confidence all of its own.
A boutique collection of two and three bedroom apartments, Luminary balances a mixed-use approach perfectly, with the ground floor featuring food and drink options
Making great use of the floorplan, the architects have created a building of straight and curved forms. Sculpted exterior concrete facades add a unique character to these homes, framing windows and balconies with soft curves.
When we talk about attention to detail, we’re really focusing on the decisions made around fixtures and finishes, and there’s plenty to be impressed with at Luminary. From the light timber finish flooring in the open plan living spaces to the marble tiling to the bathroom, the design benchmark is a high one.
Speaking of the bathrooms, get ready for real elegance here. Classic marble finishes combine with some of the most contemporary ceramic basins and striking black tapware to create the kind of cool yet sophisticated space we’re more used to seeing in a premium hotel. Under vanity storage keeps things neat.
But let’s focus on the heart of these homes — the living and kitchen areas. We love the feature cabinetry of the living area, which offers plenty of elegant storage, space for the biggest of big screen TVs and display everything you can’t wait to show off.
Luminary’s elegant floor to ceiling windows are a testament to their intention for natural light to flood into the living spaces. Free-flowing and open plan, they offer the chance to create your life the way you want it.
Take a look at the size of the marble-topped island bench and you instantly imagine the entertaining value of these homes. These kitchens are sleek and ready for whatever party you can throw at them. Elegant black tapware sets the tone from the start, and brass finish detailing to the range hood adds just the right amount of industrial chic.
Storage for your locally-bought ingredients? Check, theres plenty of cabinetry and drawers for the avid chef, plus the built-in appliances and fridge also ensure this space looks as good as it performs. And if you love your outdoor spaces, Luminary has them in spades. Opening up from the living area the private outdoor terraces are big enough for plenty of guests and make outdoor living a reality. Dedicated bbq area and room for a generous outdoor dining setting mean weekend get-togethers and sunset relaxation after work may just be your new regular indulgence.
Luminary doesn’t really have to try hard to sell its sought-after Hawthorn location. This vibrant, inner city suburb consistently ranks highly on Melbourne’s liveability scale and has easy transport links, great bars and a wide selection of cool eateries… and the exclusive Luminary is a new shining light amongst all of it.
A campus-style development in Clayton draws vacant neighbouring land into the heart of the project.
The previously vacant site in Gardiner Road benefits from a reserve on one side, owned by Melbourne Water, and a sporting ground on the other.
A stone's throw from Monash University, this site was waiting to be developed. Designed by Plus Architecture for the Lechte Corporation, the initial scheme was for only two-storey townhouses.
"There's a strong demand for townhouses, not only in Clayton, but in the broader Melbourne area," says architect Craig Yelland, one of seven directors of the practice. "The city of Monash was keen to include apartments, as well as townhouses, as they also saw a shortage in this area as well," he adds.Read Article
Lechte’s new offices have been awarded a commendation for excellence in the category of Commercial Interiors (Office & Retail) in this year’s hotly contested Dulux Colour Awards.
Plus Architecture have created a design to reflect the exclusive, high-end tone of Lechte Corporation and its luxury residential portfolio.
A series of connected and serene spaces are the result of an outstanding use of limited space.
The office is an effortless integration of private work areas, formal boardroom, informal break-out zone and kitchen. Connectivity between directors and their team was an integral aspect of the brief for an open-plan space.
A statement entrance sets the tone with a reception desk that presents as a sculptural piece of art.
The sleek interior design exudes industrial sophistication with confident use of a monochromatic palette enriched by ribbed glass, natural stone, metal and neutral leather features and considered use timber and greenery throughout.
Judging for the awards has been based on design, innovation, originality and function.
Campus continues to exceed expectations.
An established community now revels in the convenience of living within one of Melbourne’s busiest educational and business hubs, while set apart by an oasis of private gardens, leafy canopies and surrounding parkland.
Clayton Campus Management add to the offering with an impressive service that covers maintenance, security and management many of the 181 residential apartments, serviced apartments, long term rentals and townhouses.
Campus’ fully furnished, serviced apartments and townhouses are in high demand, providing a premium accommodation option for visitors to the surrounding business parks, Monash University and Monash Hospital.
For more information on services and accommodation visit campusclayton.com