Gillian Yeap is co-owner of PR and content marketing agency Keep Left, and was recently appointed CEO. Yeap's passion for property saw her grow the company's property portfolio from one client to 20 per cent of the business.
I understand you have a passion for property. How did you first get interested in property?
From a young age, I’d always been interested in the real estate market and taking that first step on the property ladder. I started saving for a house deposit as soon as I finished uni, and spent four years on the hunt for the right place before falling in love with a Rothelowman project in Richmond and buying a townhouse off the plan at 26.
How did you come to combine your career in corporate comms with property?
My first job was actually at a real estate marketing firm as a client service manager, which gave me good insight into the way real estate agents operated. I found myself fascinated with the industry and the agents themselves.
That fascination resurfaced during my earlier years at Keep Left, when I started working on our first real estate client hockingstuart.
I remember waking up one morning with the epiphany that I wanted to specialise in property PR, and approaching our CEO in our kitchen as soon as I got into work. She was really positive and said she had always wanted to get into the property market, and the rest, as they say, is history.
That was five years ago, and property clients now make up a significant portion of our business with our scope of work ranging from publicity, brand awareness and issues management, to events and influencer engagement. hockingstuart is still a client, and our portfolio includes a mix of listed and private developers (residential, mixed use and commercial), architects, builders and buyer advocates.
What do you hope to achieve in your new role as CEO of Keep Left?
As CEO I’ll be predominantly focused on growing and strengthening the core PR and content production business, implementing the agency’s strategic plan and nurturing our key client relationships.
In terms of what I want to achieve… honestly, I just don’t want our agency to stop moving forward. I think it’s really exciting that we continue to challenge the status quo and for me personally, I’ve never been the type of person who’s happy with leaving things as they are. I like to challenge and shape the environments I’m in, a big part of that is about staying relevant and ensuring Keep Left is always ahead of the curve.
Is property a good industry for women to work in?
From a comms perspective, it is definitely a great industry for anyone – not just women - to be in. You get to meet such a mixed bag of talented, creative people in the industry – from developers and architects, to interior designers and landscape artists. They’re the people that create our housing markets and cities through their shared passions. We live in a property obsessed nation too, which means there are ample media outlets and editorial opportunities to tap into for anyone working in property PR.
You’ve obviously been very successful in your career. Do you have any advice for someone just starting out?
Leadership is really important. You should never work for a company if they don’t have strong leadership. Whether that is the CEO or your line manager, always make sure that you work for someone you admire because you’ll learn so much from them. It’s crucial for your development. Throughout my career I’ve learnt so much from the really talented people I’ve had the privilege of working with.
Also don’t be afraid to make mistakes - it's an important part of learning. Just give it a go and if it doesn’t work out, then you know how you can do it better next time. It’s better to have tried and failed than to have never left your comfort zone.
Where do you live now?
I actually still live in the Richmond townhouse I bought when I was 26. But now I have the company of my fiancé and our two fur babies (schnoodles), Indi and Briggs.
What is your dream home if you could live anywhere in the world?
That’s tough. I really love warehouse loft apartments and my two passions are property and tennis, so it would be a dream to have a warehouse loft in New York - then I could go to the US Open and other ATP tournaments in the States throughout the year. But Melbourne is my home… in which case, I’d love to live in a renovated Victorian terrace in Richmond or Carlton, with a beautifully landscaped garden for the dogs, an ensuite with a clawfoot bath and double basin vanity, and a walk-in wardrobe.
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