What is your 'Why'?
For Mirvac our ‘why’ is about reimaging urban life. But it is not enough to deliver a profit in a vacuum - business success goes hand in hand with doing good.
For Mirvac our ‘why’ is about reimaging urban life – whether it is constructing houses that people make into homes, creating retail experiences that are at the heart of a community, or building office and industrial spaces where innovation begins.
We are a leader in the spaces we work in and we are able to drive leadership, innovation and value through a strong balance sheet.
But it is not enough to deliver a profit in a vacuum - business success goes hand in hand with doing good.
This week in our Q3 results we reaffirmed earnings guidance for FY19 of 3-4% growth. Robust results like this are particularly reassuring against the backdrop of a deteriorating Australian housing market, and we can continue to perform because of our diversified model which allows us to lean on the strong results of office and industrial assets, as well as a solid performance across the business.
We are pleased with these results, particularly at the moment, but regardless of how the market fluctuates we cannot lose sight of our purpose – our ‘why.’
It is important because it is at the core of everything we do.
"Business success goes hand in hand with doing good"
Purpose requires action – every day
Building homes, communities and ecosystems is not simply about bricks and mortar.
We are changing spaces in a significant way and we want to ensure we are leaving behind a legacy that lasts long after the construction teams have left.
I recently wrote about the importance of employee engagement, and how crucial it was to the reinvention of Mirvac.
Since that article was posted we have completed our 2019 employee engagement survey and for the second year in a row received an overall engagement score of 90%, which puts Mirvac 10% points above the Australian National Norm and 3% points above the Global High Performing Norm.
There is no question that our purpose – to reimagine urban life – has played a very significant role in building employee engagement.
In fact, having a strong purpose that people relate to and believe in is an enormous part of good employee engagement; in our last survey 93% of people said they believe strongly in the goals and objectives of Mirvac.
But, much like employee engagement policies, for purpose to work it has to be more than words on paper – it has to be seen every day in the actions of every single person – from the chief executive down.
Our purpose has to be felt in everything we do but what does that mean outside slogans and marketing?
In no area is this more significant than the critical area of sustainability.
"Having a strong purpose that people relate to and believe in is an enormous part of good employee engagement"
This Changes Everything
Our Sustainability strategy is called This Changes Everything, as a daily reminder that we are creating legacies not easily unpicked.
Sustainability in the true sense must not just be about preserving the planet – it must also be about preserving our heritage and fostering a sustainable community.
Mirvac operates in the heart of big cities as well as on the urban fringe, and one thing we have learned is that to understand a community and to leave a sustainable legacy you have to get to know them, and they have to get to know us.
And that is why our purpose to Reimagine Urban Life must involve deep engagement with our communities.
Engagement with our local communities is a constant learning curve but one of the most crucial things to understand is that nothing beats face to face involvement and really becoming part of the local landscape.
Whether that is our regular boxing sessions that we do with local group Tribal Warriors in South Eveleigh, or our Community Reference Group sessions, as part of our proposed development in Marrickville, in all of our communities we try to become a part of the fabric of the suburb.
As I have said before, this is a constant learning curve, and we don’t always get it right. But sometimes what comes out of our relationships is nothing short of astonishing.
Here are two of my favourites.
Yerrabingin - our indigenous rooftop farm
Our South Eveleigh site, formerly known as Australian Technology Park, is steeped in rich, indigenous history, and last month we opened an Indigenous urban food production farm that is testament to that heritage.
It is also the result of working closely with local community groups to discover what is going to resonate and work well.
Australia’s first native rooftop farm came out of a conversation between cultural start-up Yerrabingin and our Project Director Will Walker, who was looking for a way to really connect the community with the site’s heritage.
The result is the 500 square metre garden we have just opened together with Yerrabingin.
Workers, visitors and the local community will be able to learn about Indigenous culture, native plants and also get their hands dirty and tend to the farm.
Visitors will be able to purchase produce including over 30 native bush foods to choose from such as finger limes, warrigal greens, native raspberries and sea celery, but what we are really excited about is the opportunity the public now have to engage and connect with Aboriginal culture and traditions, while being educated on the history of the site.
Our anchor tenant the Commonwealth Bank is about to move in with 10,000 employees so we expect that the farm is going to be pretty busy.
The farm will be self-funded through the delivery of 16 events per month for visitors and South Eveleigh’s 18,000 workers and residents and Yerrabingin will manage workshops, events and tours that focus on native permaculture, environmental sustainability, physical and mental health.
"The public can now engage and connect with Aboriginal culture and traditions, while being educated on the history of the site"
Find out more about the native garden here.
Woodlea's Walk of Honour
Woodlea is our master planned community located west of Melbourne in Victoria, and is one of Australia’s fastest selling estates.
Set on the urban fringe, Woodlea was once a radio signals station during World War II and in order to honour its heritage we created a commemorative Walk of Honour featuring educational plaques, storytelling through smartphone apps and artistic interpretations.
It pays tribute to the wars in which Australians have fought over the past century, as well as celebrates the site’s history.
And it is also one of my favourite examples of what happens when you generate connections.
As we created the Walk of Honour, we formed a relationship with the local RSL. Obviously that relationship was initially focused on the Walk of Honour, but it grew from there - and now our shuttle bus, which takes Woodlea residents to and from the local station, is driven by RSL volunteer drivers.
It gives residents a safe and reliable way to get to the station and a sense of pride and purpose for the team of RSL volunteer drivers, largely Vietnam vets, who have formed some beautiful friendships with the Woodlea residents.
If you ever visit Woodlea, make sure you swing by the café and community garden and you could well find one of the drivers having coffee with one of our local mother’s groups.
In creating great places, it is often the small things that count and leaving behind a positive legacy that endures is the best contribution we can make.
Approaching business with a genuine, impactful purpose is vitally important. It gives us a reason for being, a central focus, and an organising principle for the day of what we do.