Alumni News

A fast-paced career in retail property

Chad Hermsen

Portfolio General Manager – Retail (Global Real Estate) for QIC
Post-Graduate Certificate Business Administration
Master of Business Administration (MBA)

Chad Hermsen

When Chad Hermsen applied for his first job at Woolworths (whilst still at school), he had no idea where it would take him. Nor perhaps, that he was already developing a love for the fast pace of the retail business environment. An early withdrawal from a marketing degree might seem like a false career start, but in reality it gave Chad the time to collect experiences and choose a path in which he would ultimately thrive. A path that would take him to his current role as Portfolio General Manager – Retail (Global Real Estate) for QIC.

“My career interests definitely started to develop at Woolworths, which prompted me to look for roles in sales,” says Chad.

Over the next seven years he built success in roles as a Business Development Manager (BDM) with Coca-Cola Amatil, Sales Executive at Austereo (Triple M), and BDM roles with Australian Central Credit Union and BankWest.

“In retrospect changing sectors was very important. I enjoyed learning the subtleties and differences between them. The challenge of discovering a new sector was as important to me as the results I could deliver.”

“I’ve been fortunate enough to work in many different fields from Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG), retail, media, banking and finance, and now retail property. I’ve always searched for new opportunities, and this is how I ended up in the shopping centre space.”

In 2007, with an idea and a one-way ticket to Dubai, Chad went hunting for an opportunity to develop his career even further. While this might seem incredibly risky, one of the most inspirational people in his life had given him some perspective. Chad’s Opa (Grandfather) lived in The Netherlands throughout the WWII Nazi occupation. Growing up listening to Opa’s stories of survival, moving to Australia with no English language and setting up a new life for his family, Chad began to understand the true meaning of resilience. And he has carried it throughout his career.

“Play the long game,” Chad advises, “keep working on a career path until you either find it doesn’t work, or another opportunity takes you in a different direction. It’s okay to change paths. If something fails, you can survive it. You realise it’s not quite as insurmountable as you first thought.”

Chad with Daniel Cremona and David Loh at a Melbourne restaurant opening

Image: Chad (right) with Daniel Cremona and David Loh at a Melbourne restaurant opening

 

Chad’s first offer in Dubai wasn’t the best fit so he approached a recruiter. “I asked them to find the most interesting role they could in sales and business development,” he says.

A great interview for a job that didn’t quite fit ended up being Chad’s lucky break when the employer created a new role for him. The role was Group Sales and Business Development Manager for Majid Al Futtaim (MAF) – Leisure & Entertainment. It was this career journey that highlighted the need for further study.

Chad explains, “When you’re moving between countries and sectors, having a qualification is important to support you as a candidate. And interestingly for expats, pay grades in the UAE depend on your education status.”

After graduating from UniSA in 2011, Chad moved to Melbourne. As Project Leasing Executive at Vicinity Centres, Chad was appointed to the two largest developments in the country at the time: the major $600M Chadstone development (2016), and the $1.2B Melbourne Emporium (2014). He then moved to Head of Leasing for the Pacific Group of Companies.

Chadstone shopping centre

Image: The 2016 $600M Chadstone Shopping Centre development in South-Eastern Melbourne

 

Here he managed leasing across the Group’s multiple retail and commercial assets, including the $400M Pacific Werribee development, and the recent Pacific Epping and Hoppers Crossing centres.

“In 2018, the Pacific Group of Companies sold a 50% share of their two key assets to QIC, along with management rights. As a part of the sale I accepted a new role to continue managing the Pacific Assets under QIC.

“It’s a fantastic role,” says Chad, “the best part of my job is seeing new retail concepts come to life. Retail is fast-paced. You have to anticipate what the next generation will need and want, while understanding your market and demographics. No day is boring!”

In this role Chad manages the overall leasing and strategy of a portfolio of shopping centre assets across the QIC group. He works with Leasing Executives from each centre to develop strategic relationships with key retail partners across the industry.

“Ultimately,” says Chad, “the team I lead focuses on new ways to improve the performance of the assets. We do this through new retail offers and optimum tenancy mix execution, to improve the traffic and sales performance throughout the centres.

“My MBA gave me so much in terms of business learning, new friendships and colleagues. These things matter when you are building a successful career,” says Chad.

Chad with his wife Melissa

Image: Chad with his wife Melissa, proud parents to their three daughters

“The world is changing rapidly and careers of today will be different tomorrow. Technology is evolving at a pace almost beyond imagination. Which makes it all the more important to choose qualifications that are versatile, portable and well-respected. The 5-star rated UniSA MBA, with its holistic approach to business and prominent position in the market, has offered all of that to me.”

Chad’s advice to students and recent graduates is straightforward.

“Sometimes it’s hard to see the next step in your career, but you need to grind it out. It can take years to see change. Experience is an advantage, remain consistent and continue to learn. Highs and lows are a part of it all, just stick to the process. And always be open and comfortable with change.”

Outside work, taking part in the UniSA Business Career Mentor Program for three years gave Chad great pride in seeing others succeed. He continues to guide aspiring business leaders informally.

“You need variety in life to provide perspective. Whether it’s your own family or connecting with your community. It helps you listen to and understand others. Another great skill I learnt from my Opa.

“I’m fortunate to have a wonderful family,” says Chad. “My wife and I are the proud parents of three amazing girls. They are who we live for and in guiding them we need to listen, understand, assess and change priorities, sometimes at lightspeed! Handy skills in any situation.”

If you’d like to play a role in seeing others succeed, consider joining the Business Career Mentor Program in 2019, just like Chad Hermsen. Express your interest in mentoring by emailing businesscareers@unisa.edu.au.

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