Lysa Neutel always thought she’d use her qualifications in conflict management to become a peacekeeper for the United Nations – until she moved to the other side of the world and discovered a passion for strata management.
Originally from Canada, Lysa graduated from university at the height of the Global Financial Crisis. Her hometown was suffering from the closure of its car manufacturing plants, making it difficult to secure even the most entry-level job.
On a whim, Lysa packed up her bags and flew to Australia, initially working in hospitality and managing backpacker hostels in Cairns in far north Queensland.
Searching for a more professional role that would make better use of her degree, Lysa “fell into” her career in strata management.
“Strata management is democracy on a small scale and has been the ideal fit for my qualifications and skills in facilitation, mediation and conflict resolution,” Lysa said.
“There is an inevitable amount of conflict in strata communities with lot owners coming from diverse backgrounds and with differing levels of strata understanding and engagement.
“Strata managers help communities to find solutions to their problems by providing and facilitating a process defined by the legislation. I find that with mediation skills, we can support our customers in moving away from approaching disputes and instead look for creative or outside-the-box ways to finding better outcomes for all stakeholders.”
Lysa is now branch manager of Body Corporate Services (BCS) Cairns and Port Douglas branches. Powered by PICA Group, BCS is a team of strata experts offering professional managed services and guidance to committees and owners corporations across Australia’s Eastern Seaboard.
Lysa has challenged and overcome many dated industry stereotypes, including the common assertion that strata management is “not a part-time job”.
“I have two young children and have worked part-time at various stages in my strata management career,” Lysa said.
“With the right systems and processes in place, part-time work has been very achievable. I also have a supportive employer in PICA Group who values work-life balance and I am pleased to be part of this progressive organisation.”
PICA Group’s progressive approach to strata management also includes the adoption of new technology to create improved experiences for strata managers and the communities they serve.
The organisation uses StrataVote across its Australian operations.
“We started using StrataVote as a way to encourage greater involvement from lot owners, make it easier for them to vote and take ownership of decisions that affect them,” Lysa said.
“The results have been impressive. Our strata managers estimate an increase of approximately 40-50% in voting participation in Cairns and Port Douglas alone.
“Despite not being able to attend meetings in our office during Covid-19 restrictions, more lot owners are casting votes than ever before.
“Rather than sending lot owners a package of information with voting papers towards the bottom of the pile and which are often overlooked, we can issue a simple email that clearly outlines what they are being asked to vote on, with a link to cast their vote online.
“Decisions that previously took weeks to action can now be voted on in as little as 15 minutes.
“More people are voting, fewer concerns are being raised and lot owners appreciate the ease and ‘self-service’ nature of the technology.
“Previously, we were required to adjourn around half of all general meetings due to low attendance. Since using StrataVote, we estimate in Cairns and Port Douglas this has dropped to around 10-20%. Over the past few months, we have adjourned very few meetings.
“StrataVote has reduced our meeting preparation administrative tasks by an estimated 20%-30% per strata manager each week. It has also contributed to our paperless office transition in which we have reclaimed one-third of our office space in Cairns.
“By reducing our administrative and desk-based tasks, StrataVote is giving us more time to spend with our customers and a greater presence in our strata communities.
“StrataVote is easy to install, easy to use and vastly improves the way we work. There has never been a more exciting time to be a strata manager.”