An Audience with Queen Tess

This week we’re launching a new type of post where we interview a fellow Career Queen! To kick things off, we’re starting with co-founder Tess so you can get to know one of the brains behind this platform. Enjoy!

Jess: What is your current role?

Tess: I’m a certified practicing valuer, currently working at Westlink Consulting and managing one of the municipal sites that we have. I’m currently at Casey City Council in charge of delivering the rating and taxation valuations which is about 140,000 assessments that I have to deliver a valuation on every 12 months.

Jess: Do you enjoy your job? What aspects do you enjoy?

Tess: I would say overall I enjoy my job, though as always there are boring, mundane tasks that we don’t always want to do. But overall, I am absolutely in love with valuations and I probably drive everybody who knows me nuts with it as I talk about it all the time. I do find it a very challenging environment in relation to the work that I have to deal with – it’s not boring at all. That is what makes it very exciting and why I really love my job.

Jess: What do you think is the biggest challenge you’ve ever faced professionally?

Tess: Firstly, getting qualified which was a very big challenge – as a valuer there’s quite a comprehensive process to receive our certification. We have to have a minimum of two years work experience, complete twelve online courses, write three very comprehensive valuation reports and sit an hour long interview. So I think in an academic sense that has probably been my greatest challenge.

Tess: The other challenge I face is really having people take me seriously. Because I started working when I was 20, I do have a depth of experience that I have gained over the last 6 years. But being 26 and looking quite young, I find that people particularly if they are of the older generations – they just don’t take me seriously. I had an agent a few weeks ago that I went out to get a coffee with, to get information in relation to Casey Council – at the end of it he asked me how long I had been a valuer for because I have such a baby face.

Jess: What do you normally do to help address that kind of problem where people think that you are very young and may not be experienced?

Tess: I come across that quite a lot, because I have dealt with a lot of high value properties – we’re talking multiple millions of dollars here in my valuations. The best way that I deal with it is I ignore the comment, in the fact that I don’t let it upset me or make me feel like I don’t know what I’m talking about. I just come at them with all the information that I know, because I know my stuff really well! I make sure before any inspection or valuers conference that I go in there knowing my stuff from top to bottom. They can think that I might not know what I’m talking about, but when the words come out of my mouth, I’m bang on every single time. 

Jess: What is your biggest professional asset?

Tess: I think one of my biggest professional assets is that I surprise people. They have a preconceived idea of me in their brain. “She’s blonde, she’s young, she probably doesn’t know what she’s talking about.” They probably don’t always prepare well enough when they come to meetings or conferences with me. I’m on the opposite end of the scales where I have probably over prepared for these things. I catch them off guard sometimes because they’re not expecting it. 

Jess: What is it like being a boss at 26 years old?

Tess: It has been a very steep learning curve. I think in one aspect, it’s absolutely great – I love being able to teach people what I know and progress their development. The hard thing is learning how to give constructive feedback to people that you like, and creating that line between being friendly, but not crossing the line into a place where they don’t respect you as a boss. But I still have a lot to learn, so I’ll keep you posted on how it’s going!

Jess: What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

Tess: That’s a tricky one! One of the best pieces of advice was using the KISS approach – keep it simple stupid. We’re dealing with valuations and the more you go down the rabbit hole, the harder you’re going to have to justify something that probably doesn’t have a good evidence base to come from. So approach everything like you’re trying to make it the most simple task and you can get through it quite well. In saying that, I think that it helps me when I deal with people, because I’ve kept it simple, it’s easy to defend and explain – I’m not backing myself into a corner with anything.

Jess: What is your biggest professional triumph?

Tess: I would say, part of it would be having the company support me in being a Site Manager at 26, and being in charge of two Assistant Valuers. I think that’s quite a big milestone, to be able to say that I’ve managed two people and be able to deliver a revaluation for a council.

Tess: On a more personal level, I dealt with a lot of high value objections with directors from other companies, and being able to argue those effectively and concisely and have a resolution go in my favour, and not let them walk all over me because they have more experience or can talk the talk and use fancy words.

Jess: Why did you want to start a platform like Career Queens?

Tess: Because I found myself, majority of the time with you, but also people in my company, even my boss, who is ten years older than me – having conversations where my boss has rocked up to a valuers conference, been the valuer in charge and had people assume she was the administration assistant. I guess I just wanted to have a platform to talk about the challenges and the best way to deal with them – being young women in a world where most of the older generation are male and probably a little more set in their ways. They don’t expect women to be in the positions we’re achieving these days and that just brings a whole new world of challenges for us. To be able to share that with everybody and collaborate together was really what I wanted out of it.

Jess: Thanks Tess!

What did you think? Did I miss any important questions? If you have anything else you’d like to ask, please comment below.

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