The 44-year-old Jasmine Lau who stands before us is not quite the same person she was 20 years ago. “You wouldn’t believe by looking at me now but I started out as somebody who actually had a lot of fear of public speaking,” she says. Fresh out of university with a bachelor’s degree in Building and Construction, she joined ArcelorMittal, a multinational steel and mining corporation in 2001 and spent nine eye-opening years handling global industrial sales for Asia Pacific and Asean.
At only 21, she was young, inexperienced and extremely shy but her Belgian and Luxembourg bosses saw potential in her. “The company valued me for the soft touch when needed, and my positive energy especially when tensions were high. These attributes are helpful when negotiations and mediations are needed to manage big egos, tight timelines, unexpected situations and mega deals,” says Lau.
Years into the job, Lau grew into her role eventually managing a sales team of her own, picking up French, brushing up on Mandarin, adding marketing to her portfolio, and also developing SAP (systems applications and products) protocols to create data analytics. In that time, she also found love and got hitched, as well as developed a new interest in real estate, where she purchased her first condominium at 24.
The real turning point in her life came after she had her first child, where at times, she found it hard to juggle a globetrotting career and motherhood. “I remember once, my then-two-year-old daughter was very ill and my husband had to care for her as I was away on a work trip. I was sad and felt pulled in different directions: Do I want to be a career woman? Or do I want to be a full-time mum? It was such a difficult call because I loved my job but at the end of the day, I chose family.”
After enjoying her run with ArcelorMittal, Lau stowed away her suitcase and resigned from her job to pursue a Masters in Real Estate at the National University of Singapore in 2008. She also joined real estate agency OrangeTee & Tie, where she worked for nine years.
In 2018, Lau moved on to PropNex where she currently heads a division of 50 full-time agents, 40% of whom are women. Under her leadership, the team specialise in all aspects of property from commercial to industrial as well as residential with value-added services such as wealth management and asset enhancement.
Now a mother of three — aged 16, 13 and eight — Lau is a multi-platinum agent and recipient of numerous awards from both OrangeTee & Tie and PropNex, including EdgeProp Singapore’s Real Estate Agents Excellence Award. To her, a good property agent is able to spot trends, feels the pulse of the market and knows how to quickly merge this with data analytics to help clients secure the best property deals.
In this interview, Lau shares what it takes to be an award-winning realtor.
What is your business mission?
I not only enjoy brokering the acquisition of industrial and commercial asset class properties for investment firms, but love helping Singapore-based start-ups, fast-growing SMEs and young families achieve their business and life goals using real estate assets as a viable vehicle. My greatest delight is walking alongside them and watching their growth for the next 10 to 20 years, while we take steps to plan their exit strategies and retirement goals.
I am also passionate about mentoring younger managers and sales executives in my industry towards achieving their business growth and development. I have benefitted personally from this dual role where I not only get to do my personal sales, but also grow and nurture my own sales team. It is always such a pleasure and delight to discover the next millionaire realtor in the making!
It’s not only a business mission for me, but a personal one, to constantly remind myself, my agents, business partners and friends to never stagnate and strive towards life-long learning. To be able to continually reinvent ourselves, stay relevant and keep up with trends in an ever-changing landscape is even more important today.
What is your management style?
I’d like to think of myself as a venture capitalist, and my sales executives as start-ups, and I’m investing time to mentor them and help plan their path to success. I always tell my team and business partners if there’s an obstacle in front of them, it’s there to prevent them from getting ahead of their competitors. I draw lots of inspiration and energy from my younger teammates and it often pushes me to not just think out of the box on how to evolve with ever-changing new technologies, new marketing techniques, new opportunities but to quickly assemble the resources as a team and bring everyone together to kick-start initiatives and take action, and continuously grow to new levels together!
Is it easy for a woman to achieve success in real estate?
Women are excellent multi-taskers and work very efficiently, which makes them great for property. They are very task-oriented and results-focused, and want to go from zero to a hundred in the fastest time possible. However, they can be very hard on themselves and don’t give themselves enough credit. I just want to let them know you can have your cake and eat it. Give your “softer side” its due recognition rather than camouflage it. I hope to inspire more young entrepreneurs to stop having limiting self-beliefs especially in management and leadership.
Who do you credit your success to?
A lot of people think that it’s crazy to run a successful business, manage a sales team and still have a balanced family life, but I didn’t do this alone. I have a large network of support, not just the Jasmine Lau Division under Bobby Sng Advisory of PropNex but also across the industry built from my early years in OrangeTee & Tie. I am blessed to meet many selfless mentors who were willing to invest in me and my ideas.
At home, I have two very influential super women in my life: My mother-in-law who taught me poise and grace and my mother, a retired global sales manager, who taught me the power of resilience. My husband, who is my biggest cheerleader, is very hands-on with the children. He really supports my vision and believes in where I want to go, whether I achieve it or not. He is my muse and I constantly bounce off ideas with him before I roll out any new initiatives.
Tell us something no one knows about you.
I am a shareholder in a Singapore-based property company called Big Tiny, which manufactures prefabricated mobile homes and integrates them with eco-tourism in Australia. It offers busy city dwellers — especially in a post-Covid-19 era — a chance to experience the perfect escape from a hectic, digitally-laden lifestyle.
The company was launched in 2017 by a group of professionals from the property-tech industry who developed an alternative real estate product where property investors do not need to pay ABSD (Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty), but still enjoy comparable rental returns of being a landlord. In short, Big Tiny is real estate on wheels.
The team started this dream in Australia’s scenic landscape instead of land-scarce Singapore. And this brings me to another point, never hole ourselves in. The world is our oyster, and with today’s global connectivity, we don’t have to think of property being just about Singapore. With good success internationally, I’m very excited to finally see this young business expanding back home.