Belinda Coates is Director, Clients & Strategy at Slattery, a property and construction advisory firm. She is also a mentor for the Property Council of Victoria, sits on the Diversity Committee for the Property Council of Victoria, and is a Director and co-founder of influential women’s group TEN WOMEN. To top it off Belinda is also a mum to twin girls.
What does a typical work day look like for you?
There is no real beginning and end to my work day and every day is completely different! Strategy workshops, business planning, 1-on-1 business development coaching, networking events (morning, noon or night, sometimes all three!), how-to-win bid kick-offs, regular trips to interstate offices, external committee meetings, research, presenting at events, PR/Media, mentoring, client planning, Directors meetings and more.
I’m the Director, Clients & Strategy for the national property and construction advisory firm Slattery which is a wonderful challenge and I get to work with great people (including two amazing leaders, Sarah Slattery and Josh Slattery). In addition I am a mentor for the Property Council of Victoria, sit on the Diversity Committee for the Property Council of Victoria, and I am a Director and co-founder of influential women’s group TEN WOMEN. When I am not travelling, attending networking functions or having a ‘date night’ with my husband, I spend as much time as possible with my six year-old twin girls. We love going out for breakfast together, baking cookies and playing cafés. Every weekday I start the day with a morning walk with my mum who still works full-time and loves it. She taught me the “joy of work” – as they say, “find something you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.”
How do you think motherhood has affected your career outlook?
I don’t feel motherhood has affected my career outlook at all. If anything, becoming a mother of two girls only made me more determined as a role model. It’s not that I want my children to see that I work hard, I want them to see that if you choose your own path and work hard for it, work can be a very happy place – that gives children something to aspire to.
What do you think the biggest challenges are for working mums?
Working parents have two full-time jobs. That means double shifts, managing two calendars and putting out fires day and night. The everyday management of the family like drop-off and pick-up can be managed together as parents by planning ahead – it’s the unplanned disruptions like illness, athletics day, awards at assembly, parent-teacher interviews etc that make having two jobs really tricky! Both your career partners and your family partners need to be understanding of the other. Flexibility by all is paramount and benefits everyone – a win-win for work and families as well as the individual.
How do you define success?
Recently my 15 year-old niece told me … “I want to do what you do. How do I get there?” That made me feel successful. Inspiring a young woman to believe they can have a career feels pretty awesome.
The ability to influence and inspire is the pinnacle of success. Four years ago I co-founded TEN Women, an influential women’s group led by ten senior women in the property industry. We realised two years ago that as women leaders we could do much more than build a network. Since then we have used our influence to support some wonderful campaigns including Lord Mayor Sally Capp’s Mayoral Campaign and most recently, TEN Women coordinated a 530 person gala lunch to raise money for Housing All Australians to build a pop-up shelter for homeless women over 55. In three short weeks, Ten Women sold $70k in sponsorships and sold out the event, with 53 tables sold to top-tier property and construction companies – raising almost $150,000 three months before the actual event. Women have the ability to move mountains when they work together.
If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self what would it be?
Have the difficult conversations early. Don’t let them get bigger than they need to be.
What’s your biggest work achievement?
Successfully taking a career break (maternity leave) and working part-time for several years and never feeling like I missed out on career progression.
What’s your biggest mum achievement?
Having twin girls as a first time mum and successfully integrating parenting into my career. It’s a huge achievement to live a full life in all facets through a careful balance of work and family life.
What’s your best mum tip?
Outsource wherever you can and don’t feel guilty about it. It might seem extravagant but your personal time is precious and should be spent with your family – not scrubbing the bathroom.
Tell us an interesting fact about you…
I have a “say yes” philosophy to life (which also means I have trouble saying no). I believe that we should say yes to the opportunities where we get to meet new people or try something new. These opportunities don’t come around all the time so say yes and work how you will do it later! I was recently asked to join the school fete committee. I said yes and then panicked. How will I have the time? What have I got myself into? Sure, these extra activities can be onerous but you also get so much out of life the more you put in. My kids are really proud to know that I’m going to be “working” at the fete and I’ve made some really great connections at the school that I wouldn’t have made if I hadn’t signed on.
They say “if you want something done, give it to a busy person”. The truth is, these “busy” people are just normal people that love and embrace life. The more you say yes, the more you grow and progress in life, and one opportunity or connection always leads to another.