Nathan Jones has been announced as the new Chief Executive Officer of Melbourne and Mornington Peninsula-based agency Kay & Burton.
Mr Jones recently concluded a 10-year tenure at Buxton as CEO and has also held senior executive roles at both Macquarie Bank and NAB.
Along with his role at Kay & Burton, Mr Jones also sits on REI Super’s Board of Trustees.
Elite Agent chatted with Mr Jones about his ambitions for the CEO role and what he thinks the biggest challenges will be in 2023.
Starting a new job is always a busy time, but what’s the first priority on your to-do list?
“For me, there’s two key things to achieve in the first 90 days, and one of those things is to just embed yourself in the culture,” Mr Jones says.
“That term can just get thrown around pretty hastily in business nowadays, but it’s really true: you need to be at one with the culture, really get to know it and get a feel for it so that you’re in a position to lead it going forward.”
The second priority is what Mr Jones describes as “defending the core”.
“That’s focusing on understanding and defending our existing core businesses, working on strategy to make sure that we’re resetting the priorities, to look at those big three rocks in terms of what we want to achieve in that first 90 days. And making sure everyone’s working primarily towards achieving those,” he says.
Breaking down these twin goals of ‘culture’ and ‘core’ will be his key goals in the coming months, Mr Jones says.
“Breaking it down, it’s more or less just familiarising myself with the team, understanding the existing strategic business plan and, selfishly speaking, just overlaying some of the ideas that I have with real estate business,” he says.
And what are some of those personal ideas or values?
Mr Jones says the process of overlaying his values into the business wasn’t “proscriptive by any means” but instead meant sharing his learnings from his lengthy career in the Melbourne real estate industry.
“I’m fortunate in that I’ve worked with this industry quite closely for 20 years. We’re also, in this industry and in Melbourne, in particular, quite collaborative amongst the various real estate groups,” he says.
“So it’s just being able to bring the learnings that I’ve had in the last 15 to 20 years into this organisation, it’s just a line of sight that not everyone gets.
“There’s so many different aspects in terms of some of the simple things, from what agents want from an accountability perspective to how we should be operating from a systems and process perspective.
“(It extends to) how we view the time that we have together and what’s the best use of that time.”
What are your goals for the Kay & Burton brand in 2023?
A new corporate headquarters would set the tone for a “transformative” 2023, Mr Jones says.
“This is probably one of the most important years in the company’s history and we’ve got a number of key milestones and hurdles, that we want to jump over and cross, particularly in the early part of 2023,” he says.
“We’ve got a new home being built in Toorak at the moment and that’ll give us a bit of a launching pad to achieve the strategic expansion of the business, which is going to take shape in a couple of different forms.
“When we move into the new office, which should be April this year, it’s really just going to set the tone, and basically reset the benchmark for what luxury property is in Melbourne.
“So there’s an entire branding exercise that comes off the back of that, that we’re very excited to roll out.”
How do current market conditions play into that transformation?
Mr Jones says the downswing in Melbourne’s property values would have little impact on achieving Kay & Burton’s key objectives.
“Firstly, the expansion plans we have will just continue to align our Kay & Burton people and brand with luxury and prestige, and the market itself just determines the conditions that we operate in, not how we operate,” he says.
“So for us, our purpose is to ensure that every interaction with our clients is always extraordinary. And that ‘always extraordinary’ pace is just where we play. So it doesn’t matter, good market, bad market indifferent.
“That client relationship is at the core of what we do, and that hasn’t changed, so as as trusted advisors to our clients, helping them navigate the market is essentially our job.”
Was there a deciding factor for you when it came to accepting your new role?
While there wasn’t a single factor swaying Mr Jones’ decision to join Kay & Burton, he says his role as a board member at REI Super, which commenced in 2021, had inspired him to seek further professional growth.
“Because I sit on the Investment Committee, in REI Super and in terms of having exposure to stock markets and equity markets, both locally and internationally, it just gives you that thirst of learning,” he says.
“And having that background at Macquarie Bank it just felt like I was tapping into some skills there that I probably hadn’t tapped into for quite some time. So that’s been a great journey over the first year of that position.
“I guess it just kick-started that little spot, but it’s time to challenge yourself.”