Kate Magill takes us through a typical day
I’ve been with Mainstay for 13 years and I’m responsible for our IPM portfolio in the North West, managing 15 buildings in Manchester, Altrincham and Liverpool. I’m proud to say that one of our sites, City South, has been managed by Mainstay for 20 years – which nicely coincides with our company’s 20th Anniversary this year.
It's a beautiful day...
I like to start my days early (around 7.30am) as I aim to fit in two site visits per day. I’m responsible for the site teams, including building managers, caretakers and cleaners so these visits are an ideal opportunity for me for a catch up. I then carry out a full site inspection to make sure there are no lease breaches or blocked stairwells, that all the fire systems are working correctly, and the doors are locking properly, amongst other checks.
I’m responsible for all site communications and like to hold regular ‘customer surgeries’ on site – this is one of the very many parts of my job I really enjoy. Today I’m at Royal Quay, updating residents on fire safety and Airbnb issues.
I’m fortunate that Mainstay is very community focussed. I’m personally involved with arranging many site events – I’m currently arranging a Gay Pride event at our Timber Wharf development, where 10% of the profits we make will go to the Gay Pride charity.
I also organise bespoke project work – from transforming gardens to planting herb areas for residents to enjoy. Paul, one of my building managers, is really good with his hands and has been using offcuts of wood pallets (and basically anything he can get those hands on!) to make wonderful furniture and bird boxes.
It’s so important to emphasise on the ‘home’ element of property management. We’re not just managing bricks and mortar, we’re making sure our customers feel comfortable, safe and happy in their homes.
I’m part of the Castlefields and Britannia Basin forum and attend meetings with the local police, council and business representatives on a monthly basis to help keep the area a great place to live, work and play. It’s not all about issues though. We’re currently choosing a piece of bespoke external artwork for the area. Being part of the forum probably doesn’t play into the ‘traditional’ day to day notion of property management, but I’m a firm believer in doing anything I can to bring benefits to my developments and the wider community.
After the site inspections, I’m catching up on emails, checking in with my property services advisor to make sure all our sites are free of any issues, and tackling paperwork. I set all site budgets, review service charges, manage Section 20 consultations and oversee any major works from start to finish, all while keeping my customers updated.
I also hold meetings with surveyors and companies dealing with buildings with fire safety issues and oversee remedial works and safety fund applications. I’m particularly passionate about this area of my work – I’m part of the ‘Cladiators’ lobbying group that campaigns for fair treatment of residents in properties affected by the issues around cladding.
Tonight, I’m now holding one of my regular Director meetings, where we will cover all the financial summaries and operational works. In this meeting, we’re discussing upcoming remedial works at one of my sites, which has unfortunately experienced some roof leaks.
I normally ‘log off’ around 8.30 pm but as I also cover all out of hours calls for my sites, I’m just dealing with an issue at my Downton development as the heavy rain has blocked the drains and flooded the car park.
So, Kate, what do you love most about your job?
I really like dealing with challenges, which you think are so overwhelming that you don’t know how you’re going to sort it – but you do. For example, before the wider fire safety issue, we needed to completely replace the roof at my Timber Wharf site. A huge – and expensive – undertaking, but I successfully managed to get over £2m in external funding – plus a £600K contribution from one of our competitors, so that was a very satisfying result!
I also love the challenge of taking on tired, unloved sites and transforming them into places that people can feel proud to call their home. I’m so fortunate to work for Mainstay as it’s a company that genuinely cares about its customers and allows me the freedom to do what I feel so passionate about – making a real difference to our customers’ lives.
It is literally those ‘little things’ which make the biggest impact. For instance, at my Downton site there were many international students who could not speak English. I really wanted to make them feel less daunted at the prospect of living away from home for the first time, so I translated all the site literature to their native language (Mandarin). The feedback has been fantastic with many saying this has helped them feel part of the development and also the wider community.