2021 marks Oli Wills tenth anniversary with Viranda. Life has changed considerably since 2011. The team has more than doubled (and his family too, with the arrival of twin girls in 2018). Even the job title has shifted from Property Manager to Director, with progression to the Board in 2018.
What are you currently focused on at Viranda?
Commercial property acquisition is still very much my focus. But also, Viranda’s growth has sparked the chance to revisit our strategic direction and operations. Like many private businesses, our landscape remains dominated by Covid-19 which brings challenges and opportunities. Working remotely and within the office requires smarter technologies and systems and constant questioning of business models. We need to stay robust in lockdowns and future-proofed and competitive for the long term.
Viranda’s founding values from 1986 will continue to lead our direction. When I started in 2011, the legacy of a ‘people-first’ business was very evident, and I know this goal has not shifted. Keeping staff engaged and growing as individuals is a key focus.
As for the daily grind, it has never been more fascinating at the desk. We are experiencing a buoyant commercial property market, with a strong appetite from both new and existing clients to grow their portfolios. This exciting landscape is giving our team plenty of new opportunities.
What changes have you witnessed throughout your ten years at Viranda?
Personal work growth is the most obvious change. Ten years ago, my wife Gemma and I left our UK homeland and arrived in New Zealand with a single-night hotel booking and a suitcase each! I began with Viranda in 2011, and it’s the longest tenure I’ve held at any one place. So that theme of staff retention and workplace culture interests me – including encouraging flexibility and giving people a chance to grow (much like the opportunities I was given).
We have scaled up from just a couple of Property Managers ten years ago, to five Asset Managers plus admin and marketing support to keep us nimble and competitive. The introduction of new talents and diversities has allowed us to develop the business faster.
The other steady change has been the legislation, fishhooks and market fluctuations of commercial property ownership. Keeping knowledgeable across all of these areas has been crucial.
Like all private businesses, Viranda is in the midst of making its operations future-proofed and sustainable, while tackling a more digital-driven reality. Even before Covid-19, the introduction of new technologies was a fast-paced challenge.
One thing that hasn’t changed is longevity, both in our business, but especially in commercial property ownership. A long term approach is still the priority over a quick-win attack. Protecting and building wealth is not a five-minute exercise.
What personal goals are driving you this year?
Right after the alert level 4 lockdown in 2020, Gemma and I acquired our first commercial building. It feels good to ‘practice what I preach’, and we’ve become our own client in many ways. It gives me a deeper understanding of what Viranda’s clients face – because we’re knee-deep in it too.
Despite the changes, it’s been a very fruitful decade for Oli, and he looks forward to the next ten years.