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Toula Panopoulos

Everything we do comes down to relationships.

Toula Panopoulos

General Manager Business Operations, Allens

As General Manager, Business Operations for Allens, Toula Panopoulos is involved in every aspect of the business, including making the office a place for people to connect and do their best work. During the pandemic, Toula has been fundamental to helping Allens adapt to and implement change, guiding people into the new normal. Toula credits her success to strong leaders and mentors, both male and female, who have shared their knowledge and given her the confidence to get to where she is today.

 

As General Manager, Business Operations, what does your job entail?

I oversee a range of activities across the organisation with the aim of maximising efficiencies across the business. I look at how to improve daily functions to make sure that we have the most effective systems and procedures in place, as well as providing a workplace that is safe, gives our people all the amenities they need, where they can do their best work.

I have been at Allens since 1986, moving across a range of corporate services areas, which has led me to being General Manager, Business Operations for the firm. My specific team includes the guest relations team, the records management team, catering and facilities management. We are all involved with every aspect of the business, working closely with the firm’s leadership team to ensure all the different processes and systems align. I also look at daily operational efficiencies and build processes that match our business goals.

 

What does it take to succeed at what you do? How can a building support this?

Everything we do comes down to relationships. You must build relationships and trust which, for me, is a key requirement for any job. Working with people and understanding what motivates them and what inspires them to do what they do is key to every interaction.

Personally, I need sound communication, negotiation and problem-solving skills. We can’t always give people what they want, so we need to navigate that. Having an analytical mind helps – the ability to think beyond a problem on its face value and understand how the problem came to be, is key to a successful outcome. It’s about being able to implement change and guide people through that. When I think about the business world we started in and the hybrid business world we’re in now, there’s been incredible change. Being able to adapt to and implement change is critical.

 

What are your top priorities when it comes to making the best and most efficient workplace?

It’s about creating a space that people want to come to. Whether that’s our clients, staff or visitors, they must be able to feel a connection with our workplace. For our staff, it needs to be worth getting out of bed in the morning for. Our workplace must engage our staff and offer a physical and useful connection to our brand and culture – somewhere they truly want to be. This is a key priority for me.

 

What impact does working at 101 Collins have on you?

I think we appreciate the office more than ever before, especially coming into 101, which is a Melbourne landmark. It’s a place that everybody knows, even if they don’t work here. We’re lucky to have a tenant rich building, where we can connect with other people outside our own offices. When you come into work you shouldn’t just come in, sit at your desk, do your work and go home. 101 is an extension of our own workplace, and with facilities like the end of trip, it becomes more than a workplace.

 

How have you got to where you are?

I’ve been lucky to have had strong leaders, both female and male, who have led me to where I am today. They have shared their knowledge and have given me the confidence to keep moving forward when I’ve felt unsure or didn’t think I had the skills. I’ll always be grateful for that.

Do you need to be tenacious? Yes, you do. As women, we need to be better at believing in ourselves, challenging our own limits and pushing ourselves forward. We need to acknowledge that we may not have 100 percent of the skills required in a job description, but we should apply anyway. It’s about having the courage to push forward and say, “I can do that”.

 

What does a good leader look like to you?

Being a good leader is setting a direction and allowing people to come on that journey. It’s listening to people, to new ideas and putting yourself in their position. It’s about allowing people to thrive and yourself to fail. Sometimes, the decisions we make won’t be popular. But having the courage to make them and move forward is critical.

 

People of 101

Ground Floor
South 
Collins East

101 Collins Street

Melbourne 3000
T
+61 3 9650 5311