Matthew Waddell is the General Manager of Robinson Property, having been with the company for over 20 years and in the real estate game for almost 30 years. Robinson Property are the largest independent real estate office in Newcastle and have been recognised with national industry awards.
Matthew enjoys balancing work and life. He has completed five ultra-marathons and believes that exercise is the key to maintaining focus in all areas of life.
• Tell us about your career path?
Getting into real estate wasn’t a plan; it was more of an accident. I was going to university at Newcastle doing commerce. I was 18 and my dad came home one day and said, “I don’t think you’re very good at uni. You seem to spend more time at the bar than you do at the classes.”
He saw a job advertised for Barclay Real Estate as an Assistant Commercial Property Manager. I had no idea what that was, but turned up and go the job. That was September 1989. Then,after the earthquake in December 1989, I was thrown in the deep end to start coordinating major construction jobs in some of the now iconic buildings in Newcastle. So, I feel like that ended up being a blessing in disguise, because I got so much job knowledge so quickly.
I worked there for six years, then went overseas for a year. I came back and worked in Sydney for a couple of years and then got a call from Guy Robinson to come up and work at Robinson Property. That was back in 1997, and I’ve been there since. When I started there was six staff and now there’s over 70. I’ve done pretty much every job, from Reception to Sales Manager to Development Management and now General Manager.
• What has shaped your leadership style?
I definitely think the first job I had at Barclay’s. There were two very Directors; John O’Brien was the very analytical and very numbers driven Director and Ross Wilson was the entrepreneur and wanted to explore things and do different things. I could see how it meshed together and how it really worked. I think I’ve taken that into all the jobs I’ve gone into. You don’t know all the answers, but as a team, you’re going to work it out. I think that collaborative approach is really what I’ve taken on.
I think there’s also work ethic, like seeing my dad in his career. I think that really shaped how I’ve done my career as well. That loyalty and just getting in and getting it done.
• What is one action or task you insure you incorporate into your diary each week?
I think being behind a desk a lot, I try and get out every morning and do something physical. So, whether it’s going to the gym or going for a run, I think it’s a really good reset for your brain. There’s so much going on with family and work and all the rest of it, you can get caught up in your head quite a bit. So, getting out there and switching off for an hour or so is a great way to reset.
Probably the other one, which I’m hopeless at, is meditation. It got introduced to me by a trainer, Matt Greeks, and it’s just that clearing of the brain and getting that noise out of your head. I’m not good at it, but I do try and do it each day.
• What do you think makes the business unique in the Hunter?
I’m think it’s the old saying that everyone in Newcastle knows everyone. I think it’s a blessing and a curse, but I think in business it’s a blessing. You can get access to the business leaders in our great city. Everyone is so genuine and so willing to help.
I think Newcastle’s got a great BS barometer. If you’re genuine you’ll succeed, if you’re not, people just won’t support you. I think, in general, Newcastle people want to see Newcastle get to its full potential and at its best. You can just start to see that now. After all of these hard years of toil, all of the business leaders are pulling together and really getting Newcastle to where it should be.
• Which local business leader do you find inspiring?
I think there are so many that have helped me through my career, but there’s one that stands out above them all. That’s Brad Webb, who was Director at HMRI for a number of years. He’s a fantastic guy. He’s now with the Samaritans; I’m sure he’ll add fantastic value there. He’s just agenuine person who’s passionate about making a difference and it shows in everything he does. He’s become a friend of mine, a mentor of mine and he’s so giving with his time and his ideas. Out of all the ones I know, it has to be Brad Webb as the standout.