Landing a $1.1 Billion Sydney Real Estate Project

Tyrone Shum
26 min readOct 26, 2020

We delve into what a normal day looks like for Paver.

James Paver: These days it’s a matter of trying to get the guys back to the office because of COVID. So, I am in the office gearing everything up and started getting the split shifts going next week which is good. But typically, it’s a matter of working with my team across commercial and residential projects in Sydney principally at the moment.

And so, at the moment, a lot of planning work. So, there’s a lot of meetings with stakeholders, a lot of meetings with clients and the end-asset owners and consultants and builders. So, there’s a lot of that collaboration and engagement. And so, that’s a big component of it. And then the balance of it is spent with clients and trying to build some pipeline and then obviously managing the businesses-so it’s busy days, but it’s good fun.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had an enormous impact all over the world, and we find out how it has impacted Paver.

James Paver: We’re still steaming ahead really with a couple of the major projects. One of our major projects has a lot of overseas stakeholders involved, a principal consultant team. So, international design competition resulted in a lot of, we’ve got consultants in Europe, in the US, in Asia, and in Australia. And so we were already operating on Zoom as a platform for collaboration. And so we were already established for that. I suppose we would have done more face-to-face involvement. But we’re still standing, and that’s a precommitted office tower development.

So, in terms of the COVID impact to the market risk, that’s been minimised for the most part. And in terms of the resi side, it’s mostly okay. So, there’s some planning stuff at the moment. It’s not particularly impacted. But I think the collaboration part and the, I suppose, team building part of it is going to be critical to ramp up. And that’s why we’re getting it back up and running next week.

James Paver’s Student Life and His Adventures in Poland

We learn more about his background and the area where he grew up and the school he went to.

James Paver: Grew up in Sydney. Grew up in Epping actually, but living in the CBD for a number of years now. So, in amongst it. Went to King’s [school] in North Parramatta and it was pretty close by.

Paver shares with us his journey after finishing school and what he decided to do straight after.

James Paver: I actually took a year off and went over to Europe. And I taught English in Poland for six months, believe it or not. I had absolutely no money. So, I worked a bit in the summer before in a pig factory in Liverpool for a little bit and got some cash together. And then went over there. And because of that, while other people would go into London or whatever, Poland was a good place where you could be somewhere a bit different and then go weekends or whatever it is into the rest of Europe. So, it was good to travel around for three months after that.

Few adventures, worked on a yacht in Croatia on a luxury yacht owned by Greg Poche who owns Star Track trucks for a while and, sort of, got some money together, and then traveled around Italy, Germany, France and London.

So, that was good. Then after that, headed to uni and started in property economics. And so, that was where I suppose the property journey started. But throughout that time I was working, I joined the reserves-and so doing off the training and throughout university and a bit after. So, that was good. And started working for John Boyd, helping him on 161 Castlereagh Street, which is the ANZ tower now on Castlereagh Street in Sydney.

We find out more about John Boyd and his background.

James Paver: He’s a private developer. That was where I got my first exposure to commercial development. So, that was a, I think, a 55,000 square metre office tower on Castlereagh Street that was delivered by [inaudible], and John Boyd had pieced that. Actually, I really liked that he had some interesting investment models as he was coming up. And he sort of built some wealth and started accumulating these properties in the CBD. Then off the back of that, he put together the Freehills lease and an ANZ lease that underwrote the development of that project. Now, he owns the penthouse off the top of that, which is interesting.

He went traveling early in his life, and we find out why he chose to go to Poland in particular.

James Paver: To be honest, I don’t know. It was through this program where, you know, you’ve got to teach English, and I’m not usually wanting to just go down the well-trodden standard path. I usually do something different, I suppose. So, that led me to pick somewhere that was from the rest of Europe, but could be a bit weird and different.

After traveling all over Europe, he tells us the reason why he decided to come back to Australia.

James Paver: I was keen to rip in. I think it was just go and get a bit more worldly and go out and, you know, make mistakes and have some fun and then come back and start building a career. So, I wanted to get into that. So, that’s what I did, and I was excited to get into it.

After coming back he jumped straight into university and we learn about his interesting experience whilst studying.

James Paver: You do it in the holidays during university. I think it’s one weekend a month. And then there’s a few different modules that you do, but they might be a month long in the summer holidays. And the rest of them are two weeks long. And some of them-I have pretty interesting stories.

Like, I think on the third module, like in the middle of, you know, throughout uni, in holidays, you’re meant to go and get a rest. But then, I went on this one, and part of the training was doing these 12-hour missions back to back. So, there was eight days worth of this. You’d average an hour [of] sleep a night. Some nights, no sleep. Some, an hour or two hours. So, that was interesting.

So then, you come back to uni, and you’re pretty exhausted. But it was definitely worth it. They gave me some leadership skills, gave me a greater understanding of people and how to work with people and how to work under pressure and high-intensity pressure, I suppose. And then I worked through that. And eventually, I started working during uni at Investec Bank, the investment bank and in the property team there. So the structured real estate finance team.

And so, there was this point in time where I was at university, finding your interests, working for Investec Bank, in the army still-and it started becoming a bit overwhelming. And so, then the army was one of the first things to go, and then uni wrapped up. And then, I was into the banking world-so, it was high-net worth property development investment banking.

Finding the Ideal Job After University

Many people struggle to find their ideal job straight after university. Paver explains how he was able to get himself into that position in investment banking.

James Paver: At uni, I was at UTS and they had a few different scholarships that they would run. And one of them, Investec Bank, would recruit from UTS or that team would recruit from UTS. And they-essentially I think it was something like that-they’ll give you a few grand to do three months of work experience. And if you do all right, then you’ll carry on.

And so, I did that. And that was in 2010-I think that was. And so, it was still pretty rough in the banking sector, post-GFC. And so, it was a time where they were going through a bit of a restructure. During that phase though, there were still deals getting done and a book that had to be managed and all of that sort of thing. So, that was where-and it’s sort of throwing them in the deep end. You learn, you know, as much in your first week doing that as you’re doing your degree.

We delve into how he met John Boyd and the job he had where he gained some valuable experience.

James Paver: My uncle introduced me to him and landed me that job. And then that was just sort of a, you know, junior assistant type sort of role-learning how offices work and how the world works, I suppose. And really, that original one with John Boyd. But then after that, at Investec, it was as an associate doing property finance analysis and managing transactions through and managing existing debt books.

Through that though, it was very interesting. I really valued that time, because what it showed me was it gave me an excellent exposure to high-net-worth property developers and investors-and across all sectors across all geographies in Australia-so that I could, I developed an understanding around how the whole deal works across all the sectors and expose[d] me to some really interesting and really successful individuals, and let me analyse and look at their business models. So that, eventually, I could start adopting them and applying them like I’m doing now.

So, I want to talk through some of them, but some of the smart investment models that would apply, which, you know, focused around minimising. I mean, on one end of the scale was minimising the amount of equity they’re using by securing, you know, underperforming assets and increasing that performance. Getting bank debt against it, using that extra debt to get DAs, generating extra value out of the DA, going back and getting more debt to generate, you know, to deliver the project and out of a small seed. They’re generating these big-bulk value of profit, but also the retained asset that they’ll maintain.

So, then there are these clients that would have this book of assets. So, some of them-this one client had left school at 13 years old, become a panel beater, and then, you know, at 17 or 18 years old, sold Fords and Holdens. And then he started doing development with his brother. And now, they’ve got a book of over $500 million worth of assets. And when I was doing it, it was just a bit under that. And he was only 40 years old.

So, you see some of these models, and some of the rest of them like some are a bit more cookie cutter, you know, doing subdivisions. Some of them were [on] how to structure joint ventures and how to piece it together. There was a bit of that that I learned, I suppose. Through that, it made me think, well, maybe, I want to be on the other side of this fence rather than the bank, sitting here and having them brought. And it was around that time where I started forming a view of-well, I want to eventually own my own firm. I don’t, and before that, I’d always thought I did want to own my own firm but I didn’t know what field it is.

I didn’t particularly care what I would do as long as I was able to start building my future. I made a decision around that time-if I want to do that. Do I want to go the funds management route and learn that skill set and then eventually supplement that with someone else’s skillset in development or the other way around? Do I want to learn on the ground, you know, development skills and then build and then supplement that skillset with the party capital experience? So, I thought, ‘Well, now I’ve got a bit of banking experience. I’ll go to the development group’.

And so it was a while after that, that I started working. I got a job with Leighton. I could go through the closure of a lot of the banking institutions of Investec had a round of redundancy. So, I snatched that opportunity and jumped ship over to Leighton Properties. So, that’s where I started building the development skillset.

Paver talks us through another example of a development that his client has in his development portfolio.

James Paver: That particular one was pubs, I think. It actually started off as a post office. That was the first deal he did I think, and then he built a book of pubs. And then just before the GFC, he had a book of 13 pubs or so. And then just before the new smoking laws, he sold his book of pubs. Then the smoking laws came in and the pub values had dropped. And so he sort of cashed out at the top, and that kind of gave him some cash to start rebuilding his book. So, that was exited. Then it was pubs with resi attached to them as part of the developments.

Diving Head First Into Property Development

Some people struggle to get a foot into the development side of property, but Paver details how it is possible to get into property development.

James Paver: I was always sort of trying to think about something. I’ll talk about myself in a while about how we did. But for the others, I think some of it was a lot of it’s through hustling with land owners, I suppose. And so being able to put the deals together, I’m just thinking of a smart developer out in Perth that was putting together, very straightforward, but was putting together sites that had, you know, development capacity.

He would pre-sell the end products and increase, but use simple products, like $500,000 for an apartment or whatever. And he would pre-sell them under an option arrangement and say, ‘Well, if you put in $250,000 now, then I’ll give you a discount on the asset’. And then that cash he would use to put into the acquisition of the site and the lights. And then, you know, through that he would package up, you know, the whole development to deliver the development.

So, these mom and dad investors or mom and dad owners would be participating in the development process and he wouldn’t have to use any of his own cash because he would spend profits. So, because he had a building book and a sales book himself, he would click the ticket on the building margin and the sales, and obviously, the profit, without using any money. I mean, it’s not a standard one, but he-I just know that he executed that model really well.

Tyrone Shum: For listeners out there who don’t know what book means in this term for development, can you sort of just elaborate and explain for them as well too?

James Paver: A book is a pipeline of numerous developments that have been delivered at any given time. So, usually associated with, you know, your balance sheet, how many projects or assets you have on your books.

We discuss his time working at Leighton and the lead up to when he decided he wanted to start his own business.

James Paver: I went across to Leighton for a commercial development in North Sydney, which was called 177 Pacific Highway-which is now the Vodafone Tower in North Sydney. So, it was a 40,000 square metre, A-grade office project, 5-star green star and 5-star neighbours. So, it was an A-grade asset. And so, I came into that before commencement in the establishment phase, I suppose. It was essentially the holy grail of commercial development for a developer in the sense that it was a pre-leased, pre-sale project.

So, we essentially secured an option over the existing site and had a 30,000 square metre pre-commitment for the lease. And so, it means that you essentially can underwrite the development with that fixed cash flow that is going to be available to whoever owns the building. And so we secured the building contract with CPB and then packaged that up. And then pre-sold that package to a group out of Singapore called Suntec.

They’re passive funds. They don’t take development risk. And the deal essentially was that they will fund our initial costs and a hundred percent of the delivery costs, including our profit. And then on completion, they get the keys to an asset that is fully leased. And so, as a developer, we had to take on the development risk. And so, we would pass that down to the building contractor for the actual delivery risk. The residual risk for us then was the leasing. We had a 30,000 square metre pre-committed, so there was 10,000 square metres of vacant space and then as we were delivering it, it was in 2014. So, the leasing market was weak and incentives were high. And so we had to, so that the pre commit, which was like, that was CIMIC Group, they contracted their head count.

So, they only needed 8,000 square metres now. So, for the job now over the balance of the project year and a half, I had to lease the balance of the 32,000 square metres of vacant space. And if we didn’t then there was a rent guarantee over all of that space, which would amount to, you know, hundreds of millions of dollars. I embarked on that process and then progressively leased to Vodafone, Jacobs, CBRE, CISCO, Objective and NBN, and then the NBN lease, which was the last one I cut on the day before practical completion. So, I got there in the end, and it was a great project.

Tyrone Shum: How long did that process take you to find these tenants?

James Paver: It was a bit of a hunt. We had CBRE on now as our leasing agent. But it was from 2014. We were into the leasing process for the balance of space. And then, I think through the course of 2015, I’ve closed most of the deals. And then the fit out started happening in 2016. It was about a year that I did most of those deals.

It kind of got to be creative with what you’ve got at hand. Because there were pre-agreed structures with the end-owner who was receiving the asset. It was a bit of, I suppose, playing tricks with the incentives to be able to work out okay. Well, if we generate enough income out of the sign, so we might’ve allowed a particular amount of money for the Vodafone signage income there. And then we do a lease with them for that different number or whatever it is, then that money can generate enough revenue out of the end-owner to then feed back into the tenants base rent, I suppose. And so there [were] a few things like that going on to try and make it stack. But I suppose when you’re under that pressure, you come up with some creative things to make it work.

We find out how he was able to pick all of this up in such a short span of time.

James Paver: I suppose in the first instance, I hired really good people around me. So, I think that now at Avenor, my business partner, Pete Clemesha, he was at the time at Leighton as well, working on the same project, but he left early. He left in 2014 before these were doing. But around the same time, Steve Rayleigh who was the national head of leasing at Leighton, he was still there. So, his role was winding down. But in the first instance, I’ve gathered as much as I could from them to help me on that journey.

So, that was one part of it, having the right people around. And now Steve works with Avenor as well in commercial. So, there’s that. But then, the other one is I feel I’m a very determined person. I’ve got high ambitions. And I’ve worked pretty hard, and I enjoy it. So, I was very excited to be able to learn all this stuff, knowing that the end goal was going to be going and doing this myself. And so, models like that, where you’re putting in a couple of million and making 60 out of it is enough of a carrot to want to learn it pretty quickly.

We delve into his property development journey, and we find out whether he faced any challenges along the way.

James Paver: To be honest, it pains me to say, but it’s yet to come. I think because I’m still quite young, I’m fully aware that there is going to be stuff that happens. We do take a lot of care and put a lot of effort into minimising risk generally. We don’t just go for any deal, and deal volume isn’t our strategy. Deal accuracy is more our strategy. So, being able to take our time, select the right deal, select the right approach and then not overcommit ourselves to a level that means that we’re exposed to something that, you know, we can’t withstand. So, I suppose in doing that, we minimise our risk.

One of our projects at the moment, an example of that, I suppose, is one of our purchases at the moment. It’s a residential tower development in North Sydney, Walker Street. And so, that deal has been a slow burn. We started amalgamating individual units in 2016 and 2017, and then we’ve amassed a 2,500 square metre site and done a deal with the next adjoining owners to create a 4,000 square metre site. And we’ve now got state approval for a 30-story tower.

So, it’s a success in that we’ve now got approval, but there were definitely moments through that journey where you feel like you’ve just burned a lot of money on a site that’s not going to come together. So, there were definitely moments through that where the risk was high. But I suppose persistence and the way that we set up those deals in the first instance meant that we minimise the risk of it not coming off.

Facing Property Development Challenges

Paver talks us through some of the challenges that he faced to get these units to come together.

James Paver: There are no residential tower sites in North Sydney CBD. It’s very, very strict on maintaining the commercial core. And so, this is the only high density residential site in the North Sydney CBD. And it’s next to the freeway. And so, it’ll have permanent uninterrupted views of Sydney Harbour and the Opera House and The Heads. And so, it’ll be a very highly sought-after product once it comes online. And so, I think part of that meant that the initial land owners-the people that owned the units-they weren’t going to move unless it was outright buying essentially. And so, to do that, we mounted a war chest and had to go in and start working through each unit.

We find out about his financial situation at that time and how much he was able to accumulate.

James Paver: We bought 24 units and then came to an arrangement with the adjoining, the three more lots to our north. And so, I think for a planning outcome, it’s a good outcome to have. So, these are the only undeveloped sites or developable lots in that area.

And so, originally we were just going to go with ours, and those would have been a separate development that needs to be pursued. But as we came to arrange with the States, essentially, we’ll put the planning across theirs as well, so that we all participate in uplift and we can redevelop the whole precinct so that there’s no chance of isolation or anything.

Paver details what his initial vision was for that area.

James Paver: It’s a very obvious one. Next door is a 22 story resi tower. Over the road is another 23 story resi tower. And around the corner, the council’s rezoning its own car park to be a 60-story tower. The Metro Station is 200 metres away. That’s going in at whatever that is 50 stories. And then the next one down, Winton’s delivering the Dennison Street, which is, you know, 40-something stories.

Dexus just finished their 100 Mount Street, which is similar. And the North Sydney CBD, the council has lifted the height across the whole CBD. So, there was a huge uplift. These are these little red-roofed apartments that were built 80 years ago, and they’re kind of falling down and the like-and then, it’s in the CBD. So, it actually started off on it when I was still wrapping up the Vodafone Tower, hunting around for what’s next. And so, that was coming off. I started turning our attention to that.

Tyrone Shum: Getting into development means that you will need to invest your own capital into it, but the way the deal is structured can help you immensely.

James Paver: I suppose that’s one example and another one has been a slow burn, but has been successful of late. In 2014, we started having a go at, Google was in the market as a tenant. We approached the State Government and said, ‘We want to put a tech precinct together with Google. And we’re going to do it at Glebe Island’. So, we had a consortium of John Holland and MTR who run the northwest metro rail. And Leighton, we were still with at the time and Google and we started doing that together. But Leighton Group went through a restructure; Leighton Properties closed.

So, Google started off again with [inaudible] lease, and the state took that asset to market. So, that was the first crack at a tech precinct. And we were looking at Australian technology park with them. And then, at the same time or similar time, the state government was out with White Bay for the next round of tech innovation precinct to White Bay. So, that didn’t go ahead. And so, we’ve been involved in that world for a while.

I suppose in terms of things not coming off, that for a number of years was just not happening for us. We were having a few cracks, a few false starts with different capital partners, with different tenants. So, we bid pretty hard for White Bay with some capital out of Singapore. And then Multiplex came in as our delivery partner initially. Then that process wrapped up for the market. But we worked really hard with it last year, and then eventually-and you might’ve seen it in the press over the last couple of years-that now we’ve anchored, we’ve secured a side of Central Station with anchoring a new tech and innovation precinct at Central Station in Sydney.

Similar to the Walker Street thing was this rollercoaster of you’re putting in a lot of energy and over a longer period of time, and then, but then, you work your way out of those risk positions into a position where you start kicking some goals.

Having to invest your own capital into deals might make it tough when it comes to other expenses, so we find out how Paver is able to balance everything.

James Paver: I suppose part of it, when we kicked off at first, we didn’t have much of our own balance sheet. It was doing these sorts of structured things where we essentially bring the institutional knowledge of a Tier 1 development firm being Leighton properties. And then we white-label that tank. Because when we had a number of people from the Leighton team that Pete and I brought into our team, and then we started building out the team around us. And so, we would white-label that into nondevelopment firms. So, landowners who don’t want to give up the rest or want to retain an asset on completion, but don’t have the development experience, we will white-label it and deploy our skills for them, and then participate in the profit or participate in whatever it is. So, there’s that sort of thing.

And then other ones, I suppose, you know, cash flow which is what you’ve identified as well is critical to it all. We landed a $1.1 billion hospital project in Brisbane, which is first in quarter run by Australian Unity. And so, they were one of our first major projects, which we started working on with them. And so, I think there was a lot of that service-based revenue that, in establishing some of these and then in that we would structure some success fees. And so, it would essentially be in exchange for deploying out, I suppose, IP on behalf of these firms, we would structure in, which we could do in a particular market at Central Station. We could deploy that across a number of sites down at Central Station with a number of parties.

Well, if we partner with this group, then we’ll participate. And so, then we’re committed to that site, and that’s how we kicked it off. And then that gets a bit more fire power to be able to take a bit more risk.

That Aha Moment in Paver’s Investing Journey

It has been an interesting journey for him and we hear about the moment where everything clicked for him.

James Paver: It’s a tough one, I suppose. I feel like I’m coming into a bit of a moment around that at the moment. The next 12 months is going to be quite formative for the firm. Some of our revenues will be dropping over the next 12 months which has turned my mind to the next strategic phase of our growth. And so, I’m starting to build some more governance structures, bring some more skillsets in, so that I can position ourselves for raising capital, deploying capital, and deploying our own balance sheet on a bigger scale.

And so, I think the aha moment is, I suppose, the last four years [have] been a lot of grind and a lot of, like I was saying, sweat equity. And then, now, as I see the opportunity that comes from some of this, you know, having some balance sheet deploy, it kind of makes me think, that is absolutely a ticket towards opening up a whole lot of opportunity that before I felt like wheels are spinning a lot. The way that I’m thinking at the moment is a bit different, I suppose. And I suppose that’s an example.

We learn about what one of [his] strong motivating factors was early on in his property journey.

James Paver: When I was choosing to go into property economics, I was just at a bit of a loss to be honest about what the options were. And I think part of it is I do want to do something. It was just a placeholder standard thing. In fact, that’s probably a common theme across a lot of what I do. I don’t buy into just the standard run-of-the-mill, you know, living. And I’ve heard a bit, I think, I’ve just heard from other people that property’s good fun. I didn’t particularly know what it was or how it works. And I knew that you could make money out of it.

And then, I suppose part of the decision-making around the decision to go from banking to development-that’s probably what I can talk to-is that when I was at uni or when I was in investment banking, you’ve got a huge amount of people that have ended up there because they’ve done commerce law degrees and they’re hyper competitive and you know, so they’re highly intelligent people and they’re working really long hours and they make this particular amount of money and they have structured career progression that you are at the mercy of the, you know, control of a lot of other stakeholders and senior stakeholders that can probably influence your success or not.

Property, I kind of formed this view, right or wrong at the time, that you’re not in a space where, I was particularly in-I suppose in the early days of it-you’re in a space where there is hyper-competitive commerce law guys who have got 99 or they’re in the high 90s UAIs and sitting at their desk. And so, I felt you can still make just as much, if not more money, and you can work less if you work smartly.

Tyrone Shum: It’s like ‘book smart’ versus ‘street smart’. You know, if you’re ‘street smart’, you don’t necessarily have to have all these qualifications and degrees and everything to get into property development because it’s about relationships. It’s about hustle. It’s about persistence, you know, grinding, hard work-that kind of stuff.

James Paver: I saw some of those clients at Investec and a bunch of them have never gone to uni. Some of them left school early. So, it’s not about, I suppose, that it’s not a competitive industry. It’s a really competitive industry.

Obviously, every man and his dog know about property and are an expert in property because they own a property. And so, it’s not that you get away from that. But, I think, it’s that I was doing a lot of long hours at Investec, and I was made redundant there. And then, at Leighton Properties it was the same. It was working really long hours and within an institution and then, they-because of structural decisions that were made at a higher level-they decided to restructure and then managed to strike an arrangement that worked well. That was part of our redundancy.

And so, then that was twice, and I was like, ‘Well, I’ve got to take it into my own hands and do what I suppose I was always wanting to do and start putting things together’. And that’s, I suppose, where the thinking came from.

On Mentoring, Coaching and Reading

We talk about the idea of mentorship and his experience with people throughout his journey that can provide assistance.

James Paver: I was lucky enough. So, at Investec Bank, David Gonski was the chairman. And when I was setting up Avenor, I reached out to him a couple of times before, and then I just went and caught up with him. And I suppose being able to just have a chat with someone like that gives you a really good insight into business. I wouldn’t say that he’s sort of a mentor, because it’s not like an ongoing thing. But, at the moment, that’s something that I’ve identified. This is something I want to build on.

So, I started the process a couple of months ago, putting an advisory board together for Avenor. So, speaking with some executives and managing directors that I’ve come across over the years, I’ve started piecing together who the right people are to put some strategic input into the firm and then some governance oversight into the firm. And so, speaking with a few people about that. And hopefully, that comes along.

Paver shares some of his best books recommendations along with any other resources that might be helpful.

James Paver: I’ve just started some business coaching at the moment as part of this, like I was saying for the next 12 months, strategic growth. We’ve got business coaching and advisory board and some new hires as part of that.

But one of the ones that I’ve just started listening to is, The Road Less Stupid. Literally, over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been ripping into it. And it’s exploring this concept of how intelligent investors-and this is actually very true for those clients from Investec where a bunch of those people had been bankrupt once at least, but sometimes a couple of times. And so The Road Less Stupid is about this concept of avoiding dumb tax, which is where a result of poor decision-making you make a loss.

And so, what is it that you can do to maintain your revenue growth but minimise the risk of loss by avoiding stupid decisions? And so, the chapter I was on last night is talking about ‘thinking time’. And so, they’re talking about having a particular period in each day where you just sit and think about the big issues and actually accurately identify problems that need resolving and then come up with a strategy to solve them. I haven’t started yet because I did that yesterday. But it was interesting.

On ‘Working Smarter’ and ‘Working Harder’

We find out the advice that he would give to a younger version of himself.

James Paver: I’d say do what you’re doing. I’m kind of really enjoying what I’m working on, I suppose. And it’s definitely a lot of hard work. But I think it’s being able to find the right balance in that work.

I think in the early days, actually, if I could talk about the early days a bit, I think working a bit smarter rather than harder could have helped. A lot of long hours, late nights, slogging away trying to work through it. And then, I saw there weren’t any other people doing that. So, maybe, I could have shared the load a bit and surrounded myself with the right people.

He shares with us some of the goals that he is most excited about achieving in the near future.

James Paver: Definitely about the building the firm and building the capacity of the firm for the funds management component. Or, I suppose being able to raise more capital and deploy more capital, I suppose.

Definitely building the team to supplement that skillset into the team is definitely something that’s exciting. And then, if I were to go to the end of that five years, definitely looking forward to having completed some major projects. So, that Atlassian Tower in Central is like a 70,000 square metre office tower, which is part of the tech precinct. It’s been a very long journey, and in five years, that’ll be complete. And so, it would be good to be able to stand there and look at that. And I see it as one of the most sustainable buildings in the world. I think that will be pretty exciting.

Tyrone Shum: The last question I have for you is how much of your success is due to your skill intelligence and hard work and how much of it is because of luck?

James Paver: I would say a lot. The luck component is the, you know, born into a good family and have a good set of morals and surrounding. So, I’m definitely very grateful for that, and I did nothing to deserve that part of it. But, you know, since then though definitely attributed to a lot of, you know, maybe 80% to the hard work component.

The luck component might be the redundancies that kind of forced me to make a decision. If they didn’t happen or they kicked down the road, then who knows what might’ve happened. Might be in a different firm or the golden handcuffs might’ve been put on, or it would’ve been too hard to get away. And so, being able to get that nudge definitely helped. But it’s taken a lot of hard work and will continue to take a lot of hard work-that’s for sure.

Originally published at



Tyrone Shum

I'm the host of Australia’s #1 Property Podcast bringing you the latest stories, strategies, and case studies from the most innovative property investors.