Sonsoles, Hannah & Jess

Support team heroes

– the PA’s and Operations Managers behind some of our leading agents

This month we chatted to just a handful of the many amazing PAs and Operations Managers that make up the fabric of our business. Being in a support role to a leading agent can be fun and fast, as well as very busy and sometimes stressful. Keep reading to dive into the detail of being a PA/OM in Damerell Group – the good bits as well as the challenges!

Meet our awesome collaborators this month:

  • Sonsoles Martin, Social Media and Marketing support for Cristina Casares
  • Hannah Duffin, PA to Julie Shand
  • Jess Thompson, Operations Manager for Team Elaine and Matt

Tell us a bit about your background/career so far and how you came to be a PA/Ops Manager in real estate?

Sonsoles: Working in a PA role was a natural career path for me which I embraced years ago whilst working for a comms company in Spain. Since then I have worked in a number of roles – office admin, freelancer, virtual assistant services and content creation and digital marketing management. When I met Cristina 3.5 years ago, we hit it off and felt like we’d be a good match for each other. She was already a successful agent back then but nonetheless, we’ve since grown together and strengthened as a team.

Hannah: I’ve worked across different industries in administration roles where I’ve supported management and senior staff. For a couple of years, I also worked alongside my husband and ran a business that specialised in real estate/accommodation photography.  I’ve always had a passion for real estate and when the right opportunity presented itself, I jumped at the chance to use my prior admin experience to work in a field I love!

Jess: I’ve been in the real estate industry for 8 years now and have done a variety of roles such as reception, office admin, contracts and compliance. I’ve progressed my career one step at a time, having a taste of each area of real estate, which has helped me build my skills to suit my current role as Operations Manager.

What makes your role great?

Sonsoles: There are many aspects of my role that interest me! I love the diversity of the role and the fact that no two days are the same. I consider myself a very active person and I love the fact that I get to wear many hats whilst doing my job. If the market is slow, I get to think about lead generation and support buyers. If we’re in the middle of a campaign, I get to act more as an Operations Manager. Another great thing about this role is the flexibility it affords. As a mother of 3, being able to work after putting the kids to sleep or during work hours is very important. Finally, I also love the work environment – we’re all part of the same family working towards the same goal. If the team thrives, so will the business.

Hannah: I really enjoy the variety of the role – no two days are the same! You get to work alongside some really awesome real estate professionals who love what they do and are the best in their field. There are plenty of opportunities to learn, no matter how experienced you are.

Jess: Being a support person for a busy salesperson is highly rewarding in many ways – you are an invaluable team member and you can see the difference you are making for your salesperson and their clients.

Hannah Duffin, PA to Julie Shand
Hannah Duffin, PA to Julie Shand

What do you think are key skills that make a great PA/Operations Manager? 

Sonsoles: Attention to detail, project management skills, and the ability to think ahead and anticipate future issues before they happen – these are all skills that are valuable to have. I like to push myself professionally and I invest in my professional development. Whilst I started as a PA, about a year into the job I decided to level-up my game and became a licensee. This gave me the ability to work with buyers and more importantly, gain a better understanding of the buyer/vendor journey. Ray White has definitely given me the support I needed to become more confident about the next steps in my career.

Jess Thompson, Operations Manager for Team Elaine and Matt
Jess Thompson, Operations Manager for Team Elaine and Matt

Hannah: Key skills would range from the ability to juggle multiple tasks, prioritisation, good communication, and an eye for detail. Knowledge of the real estate industry – trends and best practices – would also definitely help! Our role is to ease the working lives of the agents we work with and allow them to concentrate on their primary responsibilities – prospecting and selling!

Jess: Organisation, time management, being self-driven, and just a general great can-do attitude! 

Talk us through one of the challenges of being a PA/Operations Manager, and how you overcome it?

Sonsoles: It changes every year but the winter market is really challenging so it’s important to accept that during these months you need to think outside the box, start planning, upskilling or even find new ways to add value. And during other times when it’s really busy, it’s important to understand the priority tasks and learn to delegate.

Hannah: You can plan out your day but often there are things that pop up that need to the handled right there and then. This can be challenging as it throws out your scheduled plan. Communication with your agent when this happens is key as it ensures you’re both on the same page and everything remains on track – it involves constant prioritisation! 

Jess: Some days are hectic and there are often time restraints on getting things done. It’s important that you’re able to organise your time in order of priority.

Any advice for someone looking to join real estate in a PA/Operations Manager role?

Sonsoles: It’s really important that you work with someone that you connect with. You’re going to spend a lot of time together and you’ll see and share the good times as well as the low moments. For me it’s really important that I work ‘with’ someone and not ‘for’ someone – being a PA is literally like being the right hand of someone so you need to build that trust.

Hannah: A keen interest in property is a must! Some industry knowledge prior to joining would also be good. I would definitely recommend getting in touch with a local agent and learning more about what they do day-to-day, along with the challenges they face.

Jess: Go for it! It’s the type of role that can lead to so many pathways and once you’re in the real estate industry, the world is truly your oyster!

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