“I think all businesses and particularly businesses where you’re creating a built legacy are about the customer not about the building. Great businesses are created when they’re serving their customers in a really powerful way, not when they’re thinking about next years earnings.” Susan Lloyd-Hurwitz.
Ruthless efficiency: no long lunches, no golf games, no going out socially on a weeknight is how the woman you’re about to meet runs a 6.4 billion dollar company and still maintains a ‘life.’
Susan Lloyd-Hurwitz is CEO and managing director of the Mirvac Property Group, among the top 50 companies on the Australian Stock Exchange.
The mother-of-three recently told a room of inspiring women at the Telstra Business Womens awards, “a career is more a spider’s web than a ladder, plenty of room for everyone.”
Her company’s eight-person board has also recently lifted to 50% female representation (can hardly believe I just typed that) here’s how my 5 minutes with Susan went down…
Martine Harte: Susan what do you regard as your best business learning?
Susan Lloyd-Hurwitz: I think all businesses and particularly businesses where you’re creating a built legacy are about the customer not about the building.
Great businesses are created when they’re serving their customers in a really powerful way, not when they’re thinking about next years earnings.
How about your biggest threat to business success?
Susan Lloyd-Hurwitz: As a company it’s paying attention to the wrong things. So chasing something which actually isn’t going to drive the business forward or isn’t going to serve our customers better.
Being too inwardly focussed and not actually focussed outside on who it is that we are there for; which is people who work and live and shop and play in the places we create.
If you lose focus on them then the business is under threat.
Much of the conversation surrounding your rise speaks of your industry being heavily dominated by men. What role do you think your success is playing in that conversation?
Susan Lloyd-Hurwitz: The property industry is male dominated but our customers are not so it’s important as a property development company creating our cities that we are reflecting the diverse communities in which we live.
Women can succeed in the property industry and bring something a little bit different.
What do you wish you had have been told at the beginning of your career?
Susan Lloyd-Hurwitz: I wish I’d been told to pay more attention to the moment I’m in and not waste it worrying about future moments or past moments.
You often share times throughout your career when a mirror was put up in front of you, can you elaborate?
Susan Lloyd-Hurwitz: Yes there were a couple of moments when people who were close to me and have had an influence in my career have told me a few home truths and things that I should be doing or not doing.
One of the very important ones early on was someone said to me, “you don’t realise that people are watching you and how you behave is influencing the tone in this room so you can choose to behave that way if you like, or you can choose not to.”
I’ve never forgotten that message of being conscious not only of the words coming out of your mouth but the way in which you’re saying it.
Many of the accomplished women I speak with have a story when they feel like throwing it all in, can you share?
Susan Lloyd-Hurwitz: Well I’ve got three children and it can derail when one of them gets sick, that’s when it all falls apart and you have to throw your hands up and say, “ok!”
You manage the best you can like everyone does.
There’s never been a moment when I’ve thought I can’t do this job, there’s certainly been moments when it’s been challenging but I’ve never wanted to give it up. I’ve enjoyed all the 25 years of it.
Lastly balance… we’re all keen to hear how others achieve it or don’t, whatever the case may be…
Susan Lloyd-Hurwitz: I am super efficient, so there’s no long lunches, no golf games, I don’t go out at night socially because I want to go home and see my children.
I make a point of leaving the office very loudly and I say, “goodnight, goodbye.” Because I’m trying to signal in my own person that work is what you do, not what you are, so that’s how I do it, ruthless efficiency and going home. (laughs)
Congratulations to Susan on taking out the Telstra Business Woman of the Year for the private and corporate sector.
Her speech was terrific, it was great to also watch her win the NSW Telstra Business Woman of the Year in October.
Mirvac recently collaborated with illustrator Megan Hess for her first interiors project.
Bring you more on that soon.