A-Delia (bottom right) with the centre management team at Tiong Bahru Plaza after an intra-company foosball competition that was held in August 2019.
Behind the malls of Frasers Property, we have a group of dedicated individuals working tirelessly to bring our shoppers the best experience. As part of our People Story series, we bring to light some interesting insights and anecdotes from the individuals behind the scenes, speaking to them to find out more about their jobs and interests outside of work.
This month, we spoke to A-Delia Koh, Leasing Manager at Tiong Bahru Plaza and Central Plaza. Having been in the leasing industry since 2008, A-Delia shares with us the joys of working in leasing, meeting and working with different tenants, her motivations, and career aspirations.
When did you join the leasing industry and how has the journey been?
I joined the leasing industry in 2008, after working in the construction industry post-graduation. Although I graduated with a degree in Building and did not receive any formal education in Real Estate, I have always found the latter to be very interesting. The leasing industry has always been of interest to me, particularly in the retail sector. I also love interacting with and talking to people, which constitutes a large part of my job in leasing.
Back then, when I had the opportunity to make the switch from construction, I handled industrial leasing. Although it was not in the retail sector, the job was a stepping stone which eventually led me to receive an opportunity to work in retail leasing, with the help of my colleagues.
Fast forward to a few years later, I joined the Century Square leasing team in 2017 and was posted to Tiong Bahru Plaza in 2018. I enjoy being able to meet different people on a regular basis, and find joy in learning how business owners operate, think and work towards expansion.
What is a typical day at work like for you?
A huge part of leasing involves scouting, selecting, and onboarding tenants. When selecting tenants for Tiong Bahru Plaza, we have to consider if their brand or trade is suitable for our mall. Once that has been determined, we identify the right unit for them and look into our retail budget. Finally, we will have to pitch the tenant to the management team and explain why they will be a good fit for our mall.
A lot of time and research goes into securing a tenant.
Besides that, I write reports and act as the bridge between tenants and the organisation. Be it good news or bad news, the leasing team is the one that communicates with the tenant to solve any concerns or issues. I often liaise with colleagues from other departments to help solve these issues and look for solutions that can benefit both our tenants and the organisation.
What is the most challenging aspect of your job?
The biggest challenge comes from balancing the needs of all parties involved when leasing a space out in the mall. This is where collaboration truly matters. The leasing team works closely with colleagues from other departments such as Marketing, Asset Management, and Operations to devise solutions and solve any concerns which the tenants may have. With great team support, we are always looking to bring in more novel and interesting concepts to the mall for our shoppers to enjoy!
What do you enjoy most about your job?
I really enjoy talking to tenants, especially those who are aspiring to start a business. In my line of work, I get to see businesses expand their footprint from just a single store to having multiple outlets across Singapore, and I am grateful to be a part of that journey.
What is an important skill that a leasing manager should have?
Besides having a passion for retail, learning the art of negotiation is important for those in the leasing industry. As you will need to balance stakeholders’ needs and talk to many different people who want different things, each situation has to be managed with the right emotions. There are times where people may want to take advantage of you, but you must be firm and convince them to understand things from your perspective to reach a consensus. To do this well, you will need to understand the tenants’ business so that you can come up with effective negotiation strategies that will benefit the parties involved.
What are some memorable moments you have had at work?
I have forged close friendships with tenants throughout the course of my work. There is one tenant who sells honey, whom I will always remember fondly. It was initially difficult to convince him to come into Tiong Bahru Plaza, but we eventually won him over through perseverance and hard work. Subsequently, he would send us morning greeting messages with motivational quotes. It was a great way to start our mornings and I even got to learn new things from the quotes that he sent.
The team at Tiong Bahru Plaza relaxing over a game of foosball in the office.
I also like that everyone in the Tiong Bahru Plaza team treats one another like a family. We get along well and help each other in times of need. We also occasionally have foosball matches during break times to relax from our daily grind.
What is one achievement you are proud of?
Previously, we found that Level Two of Tiong Bahru Plaza did not have as much foot traffic as the other levels. My team and I put our heads together and eventually decided to redesign the tenant mix on that level. We brought in Daiso and Sushiro, and later Welcia-BHG and Pizza Hut. Since then, we have seen an improvement in both foot traffic and tenant sales!
This is an achievement that the entire team at Tiong Bahru Plaza is proud of. We are constantly thinking of ways to improve shopper traffic and experience, so that the mall can serve the diverse needs of our community.
What are some of your career goals?
I hope to improve the portfolio of brands in Tiong Bahru Plaza to attract more shoppers. In particular, I would like to bring in more brands from the athleisure or beauty sector. We now have a few tenants in these sectors, including Decathlon and Skechers, and Puma on a temporary lease. In the future, I hope to bring more of such brands into our mall.
What do you do to relax?
Besides playing foosball with my colleagues, I spend a lot of me-time after work. It is important to unwind and carve out some time for self-care! I usually watch Netflix, read books, or go out.
I recently finished Alice in Borderland on Netflix and am currently watching Money Heist. During lunch, my colleagues and I often discuss what is worth watching on Netflix and that is how I decide what to watch next.
What motivates you in your job?
I love building rapport and making new friends with tenants whom I bring into the mall. Sometimes, I have lunch with them to have conversations outside of work. Getting to know them better on a personal level allows me to forge friendships and deeper working relationships with them. When we see each other as friends, it also becomes easier for me to relate to them and discuss business later.
Of course, the perks of getting first dibs on tenants’ products or new menu items are always a plus!
What are some causes you feel strongly for?
I think everyone can play a role in tackling poverty. Years ago, I took part in a rice distribution exercise in Cambodia and it was an eye-opening experience. We had raised some funds to purchase rice to distribute to the needy in Cambodia. When we arrived at the distribution site, everyone started coming to us in swarms. Even though we tried getting them to collect the rice in an orderly manner, they came with whatever containers they had and took what they could.
Although it was a small exercise, it made me realise how every one of us can play a part in helping others in need. No matter how little your contribution may be, every gesture of kindness can go a long way in helping someone else in the community.