Program: New York
Intake: August 2013
Current Role: Independent Contractor, Real Estate
Luisa recently took the plunge and left financial services (and a six-figure salary) to become an independent contractor and build her own real estate business. In addition, last June Luisa married fellow alum Matthew Seebaluck, celebrating with a wedding in southern Italy. Matthew still works with Morgan Stanley (his host company), and they both transferred back to NYC almost three years ago.
Describe your business and your role within it
I recently took the plunge and left financial services to become an independent contractor and build my own real estate business. I went from AVP-HR Business Partner on a secure, six-figure salary to a Licensed Real Estate Salesperson working on commission only! That’s partly terrifying, but also incredibly exciting. Although my license is tied to a specific company, I am classed as self-employed and wholly responsible for my own success or failure. My company can’t require me to work any set hours or require that I come into the office at all. So, my role is to be my own boss, hold myself accountable and ensure I stay disciplined and committed to achieving my goals. I am the CEO, COO, marketing department, account manager, administrative assistant, and I’m sure countless other roles that I’ll come to learn.
How did you get into this line of business?
After Mountbatten, I moved to London and quickly realized how many doors the program opened up for me. The international experience really set me apart and I secured a role at Close Brothers Asset Management. I climbed the ladder there for about 3 years and got some really great exposure at an early stage. However, I always knew my time there would be limited since I was dedicated to moving back to NYC and it was a UK-based company.
I then joined Moody’s on a fixed-term contract covering a maternity leave, hoping that an international move might materialize at some point. I took a risk leaving a permanent position with a clear progression path for a 6-month contract, but the stars aligned and five months later I was offered a position in London as well as one in New York. This was the second risk I took professionally that hugely paid off, the first was leaving another permanent role in Scotland with a fast-tracked progression path for Mountbatten. These experiences and the rewards I saw from taking a risk gave me the courage to take the biggest risk yet – following a passion, a way of working and a lifestyle that appealed to me, despite having no book of business and a very small network in NYC.
How did you go about setting it up and getting established?
I had to complete a 75-hour course and pass two exams to get my real estate license. I then had the tough decision of choosing which brokerage firm to “hang my license with”. I spoke to several Manhattan-based firms and knew that Triplemint was the place for me with its innovative start-up mentality, extremely supportive and fun environment, and most of all its mission to disrupt the real estate industry and do things differently. It particularly appealed to me because of my own experience of relocating, navigating the NYC rental market and working with brokers who were not the most helpful and didn’t seem to do much to earn their fee. I felt that there had to be a better way of doing things and a higher quality service which would take the pain out of apartment hunting in such a competitive city. I completed a week of intense training and the following week I was off on my own, working with clients and generating business through a variety of channels.
What else is in the pipeline?
My goal is to build quickly on being a tenant’s agent to also become a listing agent and eventually a sales agent working with both buyers and sellers. Much further down the line, my husband and I hope to buy, renovate and run a boutique hotel in the south of Italy, where some of our family is from and where we got married last June. It’s a big picture plan right now and our biggest challenge might be forcing ourselves to leave NYC!
What has been the proudest moment in your working life thus far?
There have been several points during my HR career that I am proud of but my proudest is probably my most recent decision to make a career change. It would have been all too easy to stay in a job that I liked (but didn’t love), one that had a clear path and more certainty, but I didn’t want to wonder what could have been, and I am a firm believer that life is far too short for regrets.
What has been your biggest mistake/learning experience?
Early on in my career, I learned that everyone, no matter how junior, has something to contribute and a different perspective to provide. I slowly became less afraid to ask questions and contribute to team discussions, even if I was the most junior person in the room. This not only helped me learn but was also great exposure to senior colleagues who were more likely to remember me. As I progressed, I also learned not to doubt myself and to get comfortable with challenging senior colleagues (in the right way of course) if I felt something could or should be done differently.
Any words of advice/wisdom you would impart to others thinking of setting up their own business?
Go with your gut. Take the time to do your research and think carefully about how much you want it and if the timing makes sense, but once you have made your decision – own it! Don’t look back, focus on the goal. If you want it enough, anything is possible.
I am more than happy to chat with anyone who might be thinking about a career change or looking for general HR/recruitment advice. I would also be delighted to help any NYC based alumni (as well as friends and family) find their dream home. Feel free to contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org or 646 397 2436 – coffee is on me!