General Manager, 101 Collins
Peter Calwell has been the General Manager of 101 Collins Street for 13 years. Responsible for some of the biggest corporate tenants in the business, Peter says personal relationships and trust are at the heart of his role. Thanks to his professionalism and pragmatism, 101 has one of the highest tenant retention rates in Australia. Balancing tradition with progression, Peter is responsible for respecting 101’s heritage past, adapting to change and forging a bright future.
In what ways does 101 Collins enhance your working life?
Working at 101, I feel like I am managing one of the best buildings of our time. There’s a huge sense of community in the building, which is probably because most of the tenants are in similar fields – law or finance – and they interact with each other. This interaction also helps the tenants with their work: if you are small investment firm in the same building as some of the larger players, it puts you in that league or on that level. The building also has large floorplates, which helps with the social aspect.
The emergence of Flinders Lane as a fantastic restaurant destination over the past decade is another huge plus. Our customers meet their partners and families at 101 before they go out in the evening and use the building as a base. You’d be surprised at how many people park their cars here on the weekends and walk to the MCG, so it brings the families in as well. The location makes it more than just a place of work.
What are the everyday things you enjoy most about working at 101 Collins – do you have a set routine or favourite spot for coffee?
I enjoy grabbing my daily coffee at Binary. Ever since I’ve been at 101 Collins, the ground floor café has always been a great meeting spot, I always run into someone.
Also, walking through the lobby, it’s amazing the people you bump into and how productive that can be. People will often say, “By the way” or “I was going to email you about this.” It helps keep things personal and gives you an opportunity to jump on something before it can become a problem.
Because of our single ownership structure, we have a lot of autonomy and authority in tenant matters so we can deal with challenges quickly and easily without having to refer it to multiple owners or fund managers. This allows us to be agile, which tenants really appreciate.
The calibre of our tenants is also something I really love. They are all professional people with an objective to succeed in their fields. It’s a level of professionalism I’ve only ever experienced here.
101 Collins ranks among the most sustainable buildings in Australia – how important is that to you?
Since I started at 101 Collins, our owner has been committed to sustainability. Today, the power consumption in all the common areas is less than half of what it was when I started 13 years ago. We’ve achieved this through a whole host of initiatives that have been implemented over time. We have a passionate team who are active in the sustainability field and I think our tenants, their clients, and the community more broadly, value sustainability, so it makes good business sense to invest in it.
You’ve been the General Manager of 101 Collins for over 13 years – what are some of your favourite aspects of the job?
The best part of my job is dealing with people. Even when we’re negotiating deals with our tenants, it’s always a positive experience, which I love. We also have a really great team. We have a mix of personalities and that’s what’s so good about it. They have been around for a long time and that’s helping with the continuity of managing a building of this standard. Hopefully our good management on behalf of the owners has made an impact – we have always had the respect and support of the people we work for and that’s important. Everyone is expected to achieve results, but we are given the resources to allow that to happen.
What’s your leadership style? How do you keep your team inspired?
The number one leadership quality I hope to instil in our team is to treat people with respect. To be a good leader, you should surround yourself with good people and empower them to do their job while supporting them and encouraging new ideas – there’s no such thing as a bad idea in my view.
I really hope that people feel they can come to me with any crazy idea and not feel silly. I’m incredibly proud of the team, they know everyone at 101 and work tirelessly to support our community. I never take that for granted, and I couldn’t do my job without them.
What does a building like 101 Collins bring to the Melbourne CBD?
Being home to three major legal firms and numerous finance leaders, 101 Collins is a focal point in Melbourne’s CBD. A lot of people visit the building for meetings and passers-by also walk through the foyer because it connects Collins Street and Flinders Lane. The experience of walking through the lobby has always been an attraction for our tenants and visitors alike. The building’s mast lights also make the building iconic on the Melbourne skyline – you can see it in many of the nightly news broadcasts. We’ve also used it to support charities, organisations and a number of City of Melbourne promotions. We even lit up to promote the Harry Potter theatre show!
What does the future of 101 look like?
It looks exciting! There is an exciting long-term vision that will ensure 101 maintains its position as one of the best buildings in Melbourne. We have Collins Street’s prime retail outlets and we are opening new restaurants. I’m looking forward to COVID-19 being behind us, and I am confident we will continue to be an aspirational home for our tenants.