Lisa Pennell joins Barry Plant as chief operating officer

Lisa Pennell will approach her new role as the Barry Plant Group’s chief operating officer with curiosity and a deep desire to understand the group as a brand as well as individuals.

Speaking ahead of her first day in the job, which will be December 1, Ms Pennell said she wasn’t one to come into a new role with a set plan, but rather “1000 questions”.

“My intention will be to really do a deep dive and understand exactly where the group’s at and get to know all of the individuals in the group,” she said.

“It’s all about questioning. It’s all about spending time with people – face-to-face time – and really asking a whole bunch of questions so we can get to the nitty-gritty of where everything is.

“My approach is to seek to understand before I seek to be understood.”

Ms Pennell’s appointment means the group’s current COO Doug Hutchinson will move to the role of chief financial and commercial officer.

At the start of November the group also announced the departure of Nigel O’Neil as chief executive officer, with previous CEO of 18 years, Mike McCarthy, stepping back in to assist with the transition. 

Mr McCarthy said Ms Pennell was the ideal person to join the group right now. She has previously worked with Ray White for almost two decades and more recently was the COO for Harcourts Australia.

“Her wealth of industry knowledge and experience will be invaluable to our group,” Mr McCarthy said.

“Most importantly her values, collaborative approach and ability to bring people together is a perfect fit for our culture and I look forward to working with her in the coming years to deliver on our vision to be the most recommended brand in real estate.”

Ms Pennell said she was excited to work with Mr McCarthy, who has been a key member of the industry initiatives she has coordinated in recent years, including the negative gearing lobbying group during the 2016 Federal Election and the 2019 Beyond the Bricks industry collective that successfully raised $1.25m to aid those affected by the devastating bushfires.

“Having known Mike for several years now through the industry projects that I’ve run, I have huge admiration and respect for the work that he has already done in the group,” she said.

“I’m really looking forward to working closely with him over the next few months. 

“Finding like-minded people is the most important thing for success and I really feel I have found a group of very like-minded people.

“I’m really excited about what we can do together.”

Ms Pennell joins the group at a time when the economic landscape is changing and while she said the property sector would face challenges, she also saw opportunities.

“In a buoyant market anyone can be successful,” she said.

“But in a challenging market, that sorts out the wheat from the chaff. So, for me, a difficult market is a great opportunity for us to become stronger and grow.

“In every challenge there will be opportunities, you just need to be on the lookout for them.

“It’s quality operators that really have the opportunity to grow the most in challenging times.”

Ms Pennell said one such opportunity the industry has is to understand the lifetime value of a customer and improve its reputation, particularly given the recent results in the Governance Institute of Australia Ethics Index.

“Negative feedback from consumers cannot and should not be ignored, as perception is reality,” she said.

“I have always said that clear values are important for any business to be sustainable in its

growth – not just having them, but living them in every decision, every interaction.

“I can only say I am incredibly excited to delve into where the Barry Plant group is at and look forward to developing close relationships with its corporate team, business owners, teams and partners.”

Mr McCarthy said Mr Hutchinson’s new role would focus on the overall financial management and functions of the group, working on strategic and important commercial relationships and continuing to work with technology partners and emerging technology in the industry.

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Kylie Dulhunty

Kylie Dulhunty is the Deputy Editor at Elite Agent.