Katya Crema

A high-flyer in many ways, Katya managed to juggle her studies in property with a successful olympic career and working in the industry.

Tell us a little about your background

Prior to starting my career in the built environment, I was an elite ski racer, and competed on the ski cross world cup circuit for nine years. Whilst studying an undergraduate in Environments at the University if Melbourne, I competed in the 2010 Vancouver and 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics - a challenging juggling act of sport and academics!

Since retiring from Olympic sport in 2014 to pursue my professional career, I have worked across architecture, property development, sales and more recently property advisory.

In 2010 I joined my family’s property & construction business, Crema Group, initially as an Assistant Development Manager, and then moved into an Associate Director role for the group. Over the four years I worked with Crema, I had the privilege of working across numerous successful multi-residential projects, most recently managing the development and sales of the $120 million mixed-use apartment project, Derby Place, Kew.

In 2017 I joined HIP V. HYPE, an entrepreneurial group of companies that utilises design thinking to resolve more sustainable, more socially responsible and more intuitive solutions for our cities. Founded by my partner Liam Wallis three years ago, the business operations are focused around four pillars: Development, Design, Sustainability and Research, with an aim to deliver better outcomes in the built environment.

In January 2018, I commenced a new role with PwC in the Real Estate Advisory team, with the goal of diversifying my skillset and broadening my experience in the property industry.

What are you working on at the moment?

I'm currently working on a business case assessment and activation for a number of proposed tourism concepts at Mount Buffalo in northeast Victoria. It’s a fantastic opportunity to combine my passion for real estate and value maximisation with my love of the alpine environment.

I am also a founding member of the Women of ABP Alumni Network. I am working with a small group of passionate women in the built environment industry to host a series of networking events throughout the year. Our next event will be held at Corrs Chambers Westgarth and will feature three women at the top of their field in construction, property development and construction law.

Which female built environment professionals are inspiring you at the moment?

Lisa Loschiavo – Director of Atelier Projects. There are very few female directors of construction companies here in Melbourne. Lisa is one of three founding directors of this relatively new and growing company.

Sonya Miller & Olivia Christie – Directors of Armitage Jones. It's inspiring to see two women running their own property development and project management business.

Tisha Lee – Director K2LD Architects. I love Tisha’s passion for design coupled with her ability to run a large architectural practice and a family household! Multi-tasking! The architectural work K2LD are doing in the primary school space is really interesting.

What has been your proudest career achievement to date?

Juggling a professional sporting career along with the demands of university and work was a fun! And it's an experience I will take with me into my career. Within the professional context, during my time at Crema Constructions, I founded the Gallery In The Sky program, a charitable initiative that uses high profile high-rise construction sites as a platform to showcase Australian artistic talent. We erected three major artworks on our construction sites, which looked incredible in the Melbourne skyline.

What would be your dream project?

My passion is to work on innovative, city-changing projects that move our industry forward, and contribute positively to society. My goal is to generate economic, environmental and social value by delivering pioneering projects that are market leading in design, sustainability and end-user experience.

What do you think women offer the profession? What would you like to see more of from women?

It would be great to see more women take confidence in themselves and the skills and knowledge they have developed, and to take that next step up in the industry. We are seeing the rates of men and women studying courses within the built environment at an equal level now. It would be great to see these equal numbers translate from university through to senior managers, directors and business owners in the industry over the next 5-10 years.

Your favourite place on campus?

The large concrete steps outside the new Melbourne School of Design.

A memory of university life that has really stayed with you?

I spent my first semester of my first year of university on crutches… Trying to juggle crutches with a Melbourne Uni campus map and architecture textbooks was a memorable experience.

The Dean’s Lecture Series presentations at the Melbourne School of Design are always memorable!

Best piece of advice for our current women students?

There are so many opportunities out there in the built environment industry for women. Be confident, back yourself and don’t be afraid to step up!

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