Today we’re having a chat with a long-standing employee who’s been an integral part of the team for 16 years!
Kirsten Little – Senior Valuer at Acumentis Cairns is a pocket rocket. At 5 foot 2 – she packs a punch and represents the saying “Big surprises come in small packages”. A respected valuer, loved wife, mum and family member, a gym fanatic, and a motoring enthusiast. This third generation Cairns local brings a lot to the Acumentis table and her local community.
Kirsten shares her property valuation journey with us, tells us about her passions and recounts a recent valuation inspection that turned out to be a highlight.
How did your career path evolve from an apprenticeship in a car workshop to property valuation?
Coming from a family of car fanatics I grew up working on cars with my stepdad. His passion for cars rubbed off on me. The time we spent tinkering in the shed was precious!
This passion led me to apply for a mechanical apprenticeship at the local Ford dealership while I was completing grade 12. Once I finished school, I worked full-time as a mechanic at the SVS high performance workshop. Two and a half years in, I realized that cars are my passion but not my career. Although I didn’t know what I wanted to do as a career. I dabbled in retail for a bit before getting an admin role with Acumentis (then Taylor Byrne).
While working here, I was asked if I would be interested in studying to become a valuer and received a lot of support from the business. With a very supportive family and husband backing my every decision, they said - “give it a go” which I did, and the rest is history. From an admin role to a cadet and now a senior valuer, I have progressed through the company and carved out a niche for myself. My sweet spot is in the commercial sector and sheds and workshops are a specialty and assets I really enjoy valuing. I think this comes from my background in motoring and enjoying spending time in the workshop and industrial environment. It’s a perfect blend of career and passion.
Do you think your passion for motorised vehicles provides a work advantage?
Most definitely. When valuing a workshop, a storage shed, or other industrial sites I know what to look for. I’m familiar with these environments and can often see the details that others might miss. I enjoy having a professional conversation with owners and tenants, but at the same time I can connect with them at a personal level and speak their lingo, which helps me build their trust – and often surprises them.
My knowledge and experience help me form strong working relationships, but also help me gain the respect of my clients which is important to me.
Tell us about your recent inspection that was a particular highlight.
Recently, I was scheduled to value some storage complexes on the Atherton Tablelands, an area that has seen an increase in activity in the last 12 months. I drove up to the property, which has a mix of 3 large industrial tenancy areas with multiple mini storage buildings set on a larger site. I was greeted by the owner and during the inspection I learnt he was an avid motorbike collector, with over 40 bikes in his storage shed. Can you imagine the smile this brought to my face?
After the inspection, and learning about my love for cars and motorbikes, the owner showed me through his impressive bike collection. It was great to see, and I enjoyed getting to know him. He got to know more about the valuation industry through our conversations and I could see his level of trust in me grow and his appreciation for what we do.
Having the passion for, and mechanical experience with cars and bikes makes some of my inspections particularly interesting and enjoyable. It’s certainly a surprising conversation starter - talking about cars we’ve owned or tracks we’ve ridden. Cairns is a small place, so often we have a mutual connection.
So, for me, this was definitely one of those special jobs that will stick with me.
As a working mum does a career in property valuation suit you?
As a working mother, every minute in the day is precious. I feel lucky to be in a profession and working for a company that truly support flexible working.
Valuation is well suited to working mums, and all parents. I have the ability to schedule inspections and manage my workload on a day-to-day basis along with the flexibility of being able to work from home and outside of the standard business hours to complete my reports. This makes the daycare run, doctor’s appointments, and days off with sick kids a lot easier to navigate and reduces stress.
The hardest part for me adjusting to being a mum and still trying to be a competitive valuer in the Cairns area has been acknowledging that I don’t have the same available working hours that I did before having a child. I’m definitely more efficient with my work time now, as every minute counts.
Your life is busy! What do you do for you?
I need to work out daily. It might be an hour at the gym or half an hour at home, it’s what keeps me sane and feeling good. On the weekends it’s family time. We’re a pretty active family so we go out on our dirt bikes as much as we can and our son comes on his little electric bike. We’ll often take our motorbikes out to some local tracks or to friends’ properties. We also like to go out on dad’s jet ski and get out on the wake boards.
We’re so lucky to live in Cairns and have so many beautiful places to enjoy at our doorstep. We are a true outdoor-loving family.
What has kept you at Acumentis for 16 years?
It’s definitely the people here at Acumentis. I love coming to work and being part of a team who I know has my back through thick and thin. They have also challenged me to grow both personally and professionally and supported me along the way, I’ll always be grateful for this.
What’s your advice to aspiring valuers?
“Don’t be scared to ask questions, we never stop learning and you’d rather know too much, than not enough”
And cheers to that advice!
Cheers are also in order for your upcoming birthday Kirsten!
Enjoy your day of birthday leave doing the things you love surrounded by your loved ones. We hope you get to enjoy a camping trip or bike riding adventure.