Claire Burgess is adding another trophy to the cabinet filled with her swimming medals – The Property Institute of New Zealand Student of the Year Prize for 2015, given to the best performing student completing Lincoln’s undergraduate property qualification.
Filling in her time in a part-time role with a surveyor between pool sessions was the key to mapping her interest in property valuation and starting her degree.
Now she is working for Colliers in Auckland as part of its retail valuation team, a big change from her Leeston family home.
“I was a competitive swimmer for ten years. My specialty events were the 50 metres, 100 metres and 200 metres breaststroke, and at age 17 I won all three events at the NZ National Age Group Championships.
“Unfortunately I missed the 2011 Commonwealth Youth Games by 0.2 seconds, however this was to be a turning point in my decision making when finishing school,” Claire says.
“I made the decision to take a gap year and pursue my passion for swimming and see if I could make a New Zealand team which had always been my ultimate goal.
“At the end of 2011 I moved to Ashburton so that I was closer to my nationally recognised coach and training facilities. I trained 20 hours per week in the water as well as strength and conditioning sessions.
“To fill in my downtime I was offered part-time work by a surveyor doing general office administration duties. However this quickly led to more property related work such as lodging resource consent applications, plan draughting and other survey related tasks.
“It was during this time I realised that property was both a vast and very interesting field of work and so I investigated possible study options in this area. Whilst my employer at the time would’ve liked me to study surveying, I settled on valuation at Lincoln University.”
Her aspirations in the pool never came to fruition so at the end of 2012 she jumped in at the deep end and started at Lincoln, “and I’ve never looked back.”
Claire won a Colliers Scholarship in 2014, and again in 2015, to help with her studies.
“As part of this I was offered an internship with the company and was given the job of doing a commercial survey of all commercial office premises within the larger Christchurch CBD area.
“I thoroughly enjoyed my time working there and it reinforced my desire to pursue a career in valuation once I finished university.”
In her three years at Lincoln University she made some lifelong friends.
“Whilst our year group was very small, by the end of our time at Lincoln we were a tight knit group and we had great relationships with all of our lecturers. There was a high level of competition amongst my peers with all of us striving to achieve top marks.
“While this rivalry pushed us to work hard, at times it created an intense working environment. “
She’s happy with Auckland and with the variety of her role.
“The pace of life up here couldn’t be more different to little old Leeston, but I’m pleased I made the decision to spread my wings and move up here.
“Retail covers everything from single shops to blocks of shops, to supermarkets and to large regional shopping centres such as Westfield Riccarton and Sylvia Park in Auckland. Basically any shop that sells a product or service is considered retail so it is fair to say that no two days are the same and there is always an interesting asset being valued.”