Q&A Series Three - Tiel Lillehagen, OpenCorp

Q&A Series Three - Tiel Lillehagen, OpenCorp

September 2016
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Q&A Series Three - Tiel Lillehagen, OpenCorp

Tiel Lillehagen is the General Manager of development for OpenCorp in Victoria & Western Australia. We sat down with Tiel to ask him about his career and some current aspects of the property industry.

How did you get your start in the development industry? 

I started in the development industry working as a consultant following completion of a surveying degree.  It was actually through consulting to OpenCorp’s Director Matt Lewison while he was State Manager for a national developer that I realised I wanted to become a developer.  Matt suggested that I that undertake further study in property economics, and after 10 years of mentoring we finally found the opportunity to work together again after OpenCorp grew into the National developer it is today.

What sparked your interest in development sites?

I’ve always been interested by the diversity and challenge development brings.  Development requires problem solving.  No two sites are the same – each have their own challenges and opportunities.

What drives you – has there been someone or something that has inspired your career?  

I’m driven to find the solution for vendors, our investors and end-purchasers.  My mentors -  Matt Lewison, Tim Connolly and Graham Henry – have taught me honesty and integrity is more important than anything else.  Being a part of the OpenCorp team, delivering outcomes that are principled and projects that we can be proud of is a fantastic driver.  

What are some of the challenges you’ve faced in the development industry since commencing your career?  

The biggest challenge in the development industry is working with statutory authorities.  These authorities play a critical role in any developments' success, however, they are typically under resourced and exposed to unrealistic scrutiny and unfortunate political bias.  

What do you consider to be OpenCorp’s major point of difference is your service offerings?

OpenCorp doesn’t proceed with a project unless we would invest in it ourselves and we do - personally I’ve invested in every project undertaken by OpenCorp since I joined the team. 

Tell us about your team - what are the key qualities that you look for from each team member? 

Our team is phenomenal - everyone treats their project as if it is their own.  We have deliberately created a team with huge diversity – we have architectures, engineers, marketers, real estate agents and construction professionals.  And despite the diversity, we all share a common desire for success. 

OpenCorp have a strong network of investors - what qualities do these people look for when putting money into a fund program?

Our investors tell us they prefer OpenCorp funds & projects because of the in-depth due diligence we undertake prior to securing a site and our commitment to openness and honesty.  We believe the repeat customers we achieve, with many investors entrusting OpenCorp time and time again, demonstrates our regular communication and transparency during the funds' life gives investors’ confidence in the service we are providing.  The past three investment offerings were all 30% over subscribed which we attribute to the level of detail we provide to potential investors – it is second to none and assists in their decision making process by clearing identifying the risks and opportunities we are presenting to them.  

Finally, Tiel where do you think the development industry will be two years from now? 

I can’t speak for the industry as a whole but I know where OpenCorp will be in two years - we will be at the front of the pack.  We will continue to source projects that deliver the housing models Australians want and need.  We want to build the homes where people grow and make memories.  The scale and pace of change has never been greater – and it’s not just technological change. 

At OpenCorp we invest huge amounts of time thinking about what tomorrow will look like and how we can help shape it.  Whatever the future looks like, OpenCorp will be there - after all our motto is 'Tomorrow Starts Here'.  

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