Glenn first joined MacroPlan in October 2004, after 8 years in various senior economics and finance roles within the Commonwealth Government and Victorian State Department of Treasury and Finance. In April 2010 Glenn accepted a role as the Victorian head of real estate advisory at KPMG, spending two years in the role before returning to MacroPlan in May 2012.
Since then Glenn has developed MacroPlan’s Victorian property advisory practice, winning major mandates with the Victorian State Government on Fishermans Bend and Monash Employment Cluster and long-term strategic engagements with ACT Office of Housing, La Trobe University and Melbourne University.
He is currently leading a number of large-scale strategic planning and redevelopment projects involving Boral Limited, SunSpring Pty Ltd , Fucheng and a number of interstate projects.
1_What does an average day look like for you?
I get up around 6am and jump on the bike for about 30 minutes
After that I try to read the papers over coffee before coming into work
On an average day I’m generally in client meetings, on the phone and in workshops. I have a lot of internal meetings and discussions with staff as well.
I like working in cafes as often as I can. I find the noise helps me switch off and focus – the lack of noise in the office can be distracting at times…
When I get home I walk the dog then ride for about 40 minutes and catch up on the news
After a healthy dose of Netflix and a glass (or two) I wind down
In bed by about 11pm
2_What are you passionate about?
I’m passionate about spaces, design and solving problems using simple solutions.
I love light-filled, relaxed spaces. The spaces we occupy influence our state of mind and how we think, live and behave. I can have more great ideas and get more inspiration by spending 15 minutes outside in a light filled, fun environment than in the office. Homes are important for health and wellbeing as well. Too many people spend a lot of money on large houses that aren’t efficient or well designed. Smart, small, light-filled spaces with good indoor-outdoor connectivity creates a better environment and a healthy outlook for work and life.
I’m into art and furniture design. In 2004 I had a major exhibition at a fairly well-known Melbourne gallery. In 2009 started a furniture and design business with my brother, which he now manages full time. I am about to start building a home in Kensington with an art studio. I still paint a bit on a commission basis and hope to get back into canvas art later next year.
I really like creating systems and processes that make things easier. My dad is a retired engineer and my older brother is a mechanical engineer. I grew up in workshops making things. Whilst at Treasury I specialised in computable general equilibrium (CGE) modelling and financial modelling. Despite the complexity of a lot of these models, many of our processes have been improved by using simple ideas and solutions reflecting this knowledge over the years.
3_What are some of the challenges facing the property sector right now?
The property sector is clearly one of Australia’s most significant from an employment, output and taxation perspective. It is an exciting industry, with lots of opportunities for new ideas, innovation and policy leadership.
There are a couple of issues facing the industry today that continue to confound people:
- We have a counterintuitive way of thinking when it comes to planning, policy and regulation as it relates to the property sector. State Governments and Councils openly compete to attract population, employment and investment as this generates new housing, jobs and ultimately expenditure and taxation / rates revenue. The property sector is critical in creating and delivering these outcomes. Yet, there is no real competition or coordination to see who can create the most competitive, cost-effective or least-cost planning or policy mechanisms supporting the property sector in delivering these outcomes. Yes, we have seen incremental policy and planning reforms over the years and many of us have participated in this process. However, by-and-large, planning-related systems and processes reflect local and State politics and mirror historic perspectives rather than focusing on unlocking future opportunities facing the economy, particularly a growing services economy. One idea might involve linking the actions of planning and infrastructure authorities more closely to economic and social performance criteria, therefore incentivising greater efficiency, competition and reform in planning processes. The tools set out in Plan Melbourne refresh could go a long way to addressing some of these challenges.
- Housing affordability continues to be a hot topic for discussion. There are many ideas circulating about how best to address this issue, with the latest being ‘build-to-rent’. The theory is pretty straight forward, but there aren’t too many examples of how this works in practice. I really like the Nightingale model involving groups of like-minded, socially responsible investors who accept low or no development margin and capped prices for smaller, incredibly well-designed multi-unit dwellings. Savings are reinvested in community infrastructure and programs within buildings, bringing together communities of like-minded residents. The property sector in Melbourne is rapidly shifting away from a 1950s detached model towards highly flexible inner-city and fringe dwellings, responding to the needs of a highly mobile labour force and visitor economy. This is increasingly underpinned by AirBnB with Melbourne now ranked in the world’s top 20 for short-term rentals. This shift reduces the need for traditional rental or ownership and can be a more practical arrangement for people preferring lifestyle flexibility over a 35 year mortgate. The Grattan Institute’s survey on the housing people want highlights shifting preferences from traditional housing towards greater flexibility and amenity. More data needs to be collated and made available to help policy makers and planners make decisions that support emerging housing types and work and lifestyle preferences.
4_What has been the biggest highlight during your last 5 years at MacroPlan?
I would have to say the Regional Cities Victoria project is a real stand-out. We built an infrastructure and services diagnostics tool in collaboration with Victoria’s ten largest regional cities as the basis of a $1 billion joint capital funding application. This work was adopted by the Victorian State Government as the basis for all Victorian regional growth management plans and underpins regional grant funding applications in Victoria. This tool has significant application beyond local government capital funding and should be used more broadly to identify how regional Councils can attract their fair share of population, jobs and services.
5_What are you looking forward to in the next 12 months?
Personally I’m looking forward to having a holiday and recharging the batteries over summer.
Professionally I’m looking forward to continuing to develop business relationships across the higher education and health sectors, which are growing rapidly. I think these sectors will experience significant change in coming years as services evolve and delivery models change to meet client needs. Property and infrastructure are important inputs to the operation of these sectors – as our work with La Trobe University and Melbourne University and the hospital sector has shown. Traditional models are changing and this means policy, planning and regulatory frameworks also need to adapt to support these fast-growing and changing sectors.