As the head of Walkom Real Estate, a brand that is synonymous with property in Newcastle, Scott Walkom has taken over the family business that has been helping people to buy, sell and rent homes and apartments since 1961.
Scott has impressive qualifications and business skills. He’s a qualified accountant and has completed an MBA. He combines these skills, and 20 years experience in real estate, to keep the Walkom ship headed in the right direction.
He believes leaders and businesses need to use technology and every other available tool to help give their clients an advantage. More importantly, they need to act with integrity and take time to listen to and understand their clients and staff.
- What makes a great business leader?
There are a lot of character traits involved in being a great business leader – determination, enthusiasm, strength, endurance, persistence and just a general willingness to help others and work with others in the community. You also need to be more of a coach to your younger staff members.
- How would you describe your leadership style?
I think my leadership style is democratic. I do try to get others involved in the decisions at work. I enjoy working with others and asking others their opinion and working with them, sharing the ideas and vision I have and getting their feedback. This is particularly so with some of the feedback from younger members of staff who are up-to-date with technology and social networking and social media, it has been very valuable and a great insight into going forward in our business.
- What’s the best advice you have been given on running a successful business?
I’ve been very lucky as a lot of people have shared some great ideas with me over the years. My father-in-law, who was really close to me knew I was impulsive and told me to slow down and not to rush decisions. That’s something I really work on now.
Also, a lot of people I work with like Geoff Leonard, who I work with on the Board of The Salvation Army, has given me good advice, helping me work with people and being calm and relaxed in groups and letting ideas come out.
I’ve been lucky working on the HMRI Board with Kyle Loades, he’s extremely sharing of knowledge and how he works at meetings, keeping them on time and getting the ideas out of people has been excellent for me.
- What is the biggest issue facing business leaders in the Hunter at the moment?
Newcastle at the moment has some really good things going on. The Hunter intercity revitalization project from the Newcastle Council and also the State Government, Urban Growth, has been a fantastic thing for the City.
But there are some headwinds on the way I think. There’s increased unemployment in Newcastle, it’s about 9% and the state average is 6% and manufacturing seems to be suffering a little bit – we really need to support the manufacturing industry. There’s also the lack of skilled workers, or the potential loss of skilled workers if manufacturing goes is a very long-term problem for the Hunter.
Also youth unemployment is very worrying. We really need to give young people a go, and to give them jobs and get them started.
- What local businessperson do you find inspiring?
I’ve been really lucky to know and work with a couple of great businesspeople in Newcastle.
Neil Slater I know personally and being Newcastle Business Person of the Year has been super inspiring for the whole town I think, with the ANZAC Walk and also working with Barney Collins on the vision and making that happen.
Also Neville Sawyer who I know from Hunter TAFE Foundation, it’s been great for Walkom Real Estate to work with TAFE and have a scholarship for the students there, it’s really inspiring for the young people there.
Also Michael Nilsson who runs HMRI and from the Newcastle University, Caroline McMillian, who is a shining light.