Greville Pabst is a busy man. Between running a company, writing a newspaper column and juggling appearances on Australian television as the go-to property expert, he’s learned a thing or two about keeping his personal style simple.
The relaxed, down-to-earth CEO and Executive Chairman of WBP Group (one of Australia’s leading independent property advisory and valuations firms) took a wander with us through Melbourne’s laneways as we uncovered the lessons he has learned along the way.
OH: You’ve established yourself as an expert in Australia’s property market, and for doing it with style. Tell us a bit about what you’re working on at the moment.
GP: I have just completed another successful season of Channel Nine’s popular TV show The Block as a buyer’s jury judge, and I was proud to represent comedian Dave Hughes at auctions to buy Josh and Elyse’s property, which was also the winning house of the season. I’m currently in the middle of filming another property show on Channel 9Life called Luxury Homes Revealed which will air next year.
To top off a big year, I was a finalist in the CEO Magazine Executive Awards in the Chairperson of the Year category – a great honour personally and for WBP Group. Our team will have a strong finish to the year for clients before the market goes into hibernation over the festive season.
Greville wears an Oscar Hunt navy Dormeuil suit.
OH: Tell us about your first job?
GP: I started out in property at a Melbourne retail property agency called Burgess Rawson. Although I was only there for a short stint, I lapped it all up and learnt so much from owners Chris and Gerald. I then moved into my first job as a property valuer with Westpac Property Department at 360 Collins Street, which funnily enough is now the address of WBP Group’s corporate office.
In 1989, I rode the greatest property boom of our times to its peak, and then the crash in 1990, followed by the recession that eventually claimed my job. I don’t think I’ll ever experience that euphoria again of rising commercial property prices and then a massive property crash when interest rates hit 18%. Property values fell 50% and I was up to my neck in it!
OH: Tell us about when you decided to get into real estate?
GP: When I finished school, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. I had an interest in business and economics, and when I got my first preference in property valuation at RMIT, I decided to jump on it. I was 19-years-old at the time and 33 years later I’m still working in property. It’s such a dynamic industry to be in and I love it.
OH: Three lessons you’ve learned you wish you knew when you were starting out?
GP: My father passed away when I was 27-years-old and that’s when I decided to work for myself. To be honest, I wouldn’t change a lot in my professional life; I’ve taken plenty of risks, embraced debt and tried many avenues to earn money. All valuable lessons that have lead me to where I am today.
Firstly, I’ve learnt the importance of having a strong team around me and the difference good staff can make. Henry Ford once said to surround yourself with people smarter than you, and I have certainly embraced that, together with employing people that have different skills to me. I have plenty of ideas and I’ve got lots of doers and operational people around me to bring these to fruition.
Secondly, whatever you do, you must be passionate about it. It should not just be a job, but a love. If you are not excited about what you are doing, how are you going to get a customer excited about a product or service.
Thirdly, you must have a vision and a clear strategy. If the vision is clear, it's amazing how many people want to come on the journey and share that vision with you. Many people are searching for gold, digging holes everywhere, and often fail to realise that they are already sitting on a gold mine - they just need to harness it.
OH: Tell us what you like to do for fun.
GP: I’m a workaholic and consider striking new deals fun. But apart from work, traveling is one of my passions and I’ve been fortunate to have taken my family to some incredible locations around the world. This year we have travelled to Mallorca, Barcelona and Madrid and for Christmas we’re heading to South America where we’ll be exploring Argentina, Chile and Peru.
I’m a crazy Western Bulldogs fan and have been all my life. As a boy, my dad took me to their game every week and I have done the same with my kids. The 2016 Grand Final and seeing the Doggies win would be one of my most memorable experiences.
In recent years, I have also developed an interest in Australian contemporary art and have started to collect some incredible pieces. Whenever I go travelling I can’t help but visit art galleries and museums.
OH: Do you remember your first suit?
GP: Yes, it was a baggy suit with padded power shoulders. That typical 1980s look!
OH: How has your style evolved since then?
GP: I’ve developed a classic style, wearing beautiful tailored suits with single breasted jackets. I usually go for a grey or navy suit, and my Oscar Hunt ones are my favourites. I wear them together with a white or light blue business shirt, and add a pocket chief. Ties are slowly starting to disappear from my wardrobe and I’m embracing an open-neck shirt.
OH: What do you think is important to consider when getting a suit made?
GP: I personally like to see a bit of my cuff under the suit jacket sleeve, I think that’s a nice detail. Trouser length is critical to me as I’m not fond of showing off my socks. A classic tailored slim fit suit is timeless and makes me feel and look my best. To me, buying a good quality classical suit is like buying a beautiful piece of art, it shouldn’t go out of date.
OH: What accomplishment are you most proud of?
GP: There are many things in life that I’m proud of, with my family being at the top of that list. I’ve been happily married to Lisa for 25 years and we have two boys Noah and Corey, aged 18 and 20, and we still enjoy travelling together as a family. From a business perspective, I’m proud that my partner Patrick Brady and I, along with the WBP Group team, have built a large property services company that now employs over 270 staff across Australia. A moment I will never forget is WBP Group winning the Telstra Business of the Year Award in 2007. My kids, who were quite young at the time, came down from the hotel in their pyjamas to witness our win and hear my acceptance speech.
More on Greville here: http://www.grevillepabst.com.au
More on WBP Group here: http://wbpgroup.com.au