Kristy Lansdown, project director at Lendlease, on how she got started in the property industry, her top music and book picks, and her number-one travel destination.
How did you join the property industry?
My interest in architecture, design and cities definitely started at a young age. My grandfather was a property developer in Sydney in the 1950s and 1960s, so it was always discussed around the dinner table, and I have early memories of digging out the property sections of the weekend papers. It felt like a natural step to study property economics at Queensland University of Technology and then I built on it with a masters in applied finance to get a deeper understanding of the commercial side of things.
What does your job entail?
I lead two major Lendlease projects – the International Quarter London (IQL) in Stratford and Elephant Park in Elephant and Castle – which are transforming areas of the capital for future generations. Every project is unique, and my job is to get under the skin of communities and develop an approach shaped by local people and an area’s individual character. Seeing people enjoying those places and the positive impact on their lives is what motivates me the most.
What do you like most about the property industry?
The property sector is not just about bricks-and-mortar; it is about people and creating memorable experiences. From residents, businesses and community groups, architects, planners and engineers, and creatives and content creators, I get to engage with brilliant and interesting people to help find creative solutions and address challenges.
And what do you dislike most about it?
The classic barriers to progress that we navigate on a daily basis – whether it is planning complexities, availability of resources or market economics. Momentum is key in delivering large-scale projects, and there are many challenges to navigate, which can slow things down and cause frustration in the team who are focused on delivering positive outcomes.
What would you change about the property industry?
We are making progress on diversity but we still have more to do. I am immensely proud to have worked with and championed diverse teams throughout my career – across design, construction and development. I have seen the value of that first-hand and know that the only way we will create successful places is by having as many different voices and life experiences in the room as possible.
What barriers or challenges have you overcome?
I am not alone in having to break through stereotypes throughout my career. It started early when I was working in the development industry and on construction sites and I faced some confronting situations in meetings and I was often the only female in the room. While I hope things are changing for the better now, the experience was extremely formative for me. I learned important skills in how to build trust and respect among colleagues by being confident in my knowledge and point of view.
What are you most proud of in your career?
There are very few opportunities like being part of the team delivering the Athletes’ Village for the London 2012 Olympic Games and working against a hard deadline like that. I am very proud to see that come full circle and be involved in the legacy of the Games at IQL Stratford and creating a sustainable workplace and employment hub for London. We have celebrated milestones like securing FCA and TfL as our first tenants, welcoming global brands such as Cancer Research UK, British Council and Unicef , and now launching our new inclusive innovation district this year together with Eastbank Cultural Quarter, Here East and UCL. It has been immensely rewarding to be part of that evolution and see the lasting impact on the local communities.
What do you value in people?
The power of the team is something I really enjoy and to see how everyone plays a part in delivering something amazing is so rewarding. I also enjoy working with people with good energy and passion for their job as it makes the hard work more enjoyable.
What advice would you give to someone starting a career in the property industry?
Do not be afraid to speak up or challenge the status quo and drive a better outcome, whether it is in terms of public realm or the quality of the buildings we deliver. You are in the room for a reason, and your perspective, personality and experience could make all the difference to the success of a project.
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