Danni Addison – Victorian CEO, Urban Development Institute of Australia

What attracted you to the industry (and when)?
Although I didn’t know what I wanted to do when I left school, looking back I see an ongoing interest in reform and improvement. I worked at Maddocks law firm, studied an Arts degree and did an administrative traineeship in construction and property. I went on to work for government through a graduate program, where I found myself challenged by the size of the bureaucracy and amount of red tape which, in my view, prevented things actually happening. My next major role as Victorian policy and public affairs manager at the Property Council of Australia was a big step in my career. Jennifer Cunich (then Victorian executive director) saw something in me and hired me. I worked hard to show she’d made the right decision. I’m very grateful, because the role progressed my career and played a big part in where I am today. From there, the former Planning Minister (at the time) approached me to work for him. I took the role to learn from him and to get hands-on experience in the decision-making process. It was in this role I really felt the distinction between influencing decisions and actually making them, and I realised I preferred being the influencer. That’s when policy reform became my goal and ultimately led me to the UDIA.

What do you love most about the industry?
Victoria’s urban development industry as a whole strives for excellence in design and development. We are committed to creating the homes and communities that will accommodate our population well into the future, and that is an important task.

What do you consider your proudest moment or greatest achievement (in the industry)?
I’ve worked hard to build a strong team environment where careers will never be limited by barriers, such as age or gender. They have been incredibly hard working and supportive and we’ve achieved a lot in two years. I’m very proud of them all!

Biggest regret?
I probably would have told myself to accept more help from others. If you have good people around you who want to help, it’s OK to let them. You don’t have to do everything on your own. But an important element of this is also assembling a team around you who you trust, and sometimes that can take time. I’m excited our team now is highly skilled and really cohesive. We’re all on the same page and focused on clear goals.

Worst trend?
‘Quick-flip’ investments. Property is a medium-to long-term investment and should not be seen as short-term investments to be flipped after settlement.

Best change?
Increasing commitment from the development community towards investing in environmental sustainability.

If building tomorrow, what feature would you like incorporated in your home?
I’m incredibly impressed with the YarraBend development in Alphington, which achieved the highest possible rating under UDIA’s EnviroDevelopment scheme – a program that certifies exceptional development projects that are leading the way in terms of environmental sustainability. It is Victoria’s first development to provide Tesla powerwalls and solar panels in every home, meaning residents will benefit from dramatically lower power bills. Additionally, the development will offer electric car charging ports, making it possible for future residents to refuel their electric cars for free. Imagine owning a car that doesn’t cost a cent to run – that’s a very exciting concept. I’d like those features incorporated in my home.

What should prospective buyers look for when choosing a builder?
It’s important to research the whole team that will deliver the project; not just the builder but also the developer, architect and even the sales agent. Check their experience and qualifications to see they have a good track record before signing anything.

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