Goodman Group’s Abi El-Kobaili on How Effective Communication Remedies Obstacles

Before becoming an industrial building manager for Goodman Group, Abi El-Kobaili worked as a teacher in primary education and at a behavioural needs high school.

While admitting that education and building management appear dissimilar on paper, El-Kobaili says she draws on many methods developed during her years spent teaching, mainly employing clear, respectful and transparent communication in executing seamless operations.

Since starting at Goodman as a relief building manager, El-Kobaili has ascended through the ranks to oversee the operations and maintenance of 19 buildings. Additionally, she was elated to be appointed to the role of property manager for Oakdale West, a new estate in Kemps Creek, Sydney, set to be completed in June.

El-Kobaili is inspired by the dynamic nature of her role as a building manager that necessitates responsibility for a vast array of tasks such as coordinating contractors, engaging with customers and the wider Goodman team, and managing day-to-day maintenance.

She sees effective communication as the antidote to most challenges and obstacles within facility management. El-Kobaili is proud to work for a company that champions diversity and inclusiveness and advocates for equal representation of men and women in the industrial building sector.

Talk us through your career background and education, and what led you to be a building manager for Goodman Group at Oakdale West Industrial estate?

Abi El-Kobaili: I was a teacher for about four years, starting as a casual primary teacher and then progressing into a permanent teaching role at a behavioural high school. I then chose to explore a different career path.

My building management journey started at Meriton where I worked as a residential assistant building manager. I eventually moved into a building manager role and managed six apartment buildings, as well as multiple strata and building management committees (BMC).

I managed a building in Mascot that was part of a large BMC mixed-purpose precinct involving residential, hotel and retail. While managing this site, I was given the opportunity to oversee a newly developed residential building and was involved in organising settlements and engaging with the new homeowners.

The role was diverse, as I managed a rental portfolio and engaged with homeowners, tenants and contractors to effectively oversee the management and maintenance of the building.

However, I felt I was ready for my next challenge and wanted to expand my skill set beyond residential property.

I was interested in Goodman Group because of its reputation as a leader in industrial and commercial property. I started at Goodman as a relief building manager in 2023, and was given the opportunity to manage Oakdale West, a new estate located at Kemps Creek set to be completed in June.

In this role, I am able to draw on the skills I acquired in the residential property sector. I am the direct point of call for customers and oversee the operations and maintenance of newly developed industrial properties.

I manage 19 properties, however some are still under construction. Many of the customers I look after are high-profile companies, including Australia Post, Primary Connect (Woolworths), Telstra, Ebos and Maersk.

What does an average day look like for you?

No two days are the same for me, so there is no average day! I start most mornings listening to a podcast on the way to work – I like TED talks and Diary of a CEO – and begin organising daily tasks and developing a checklist of priorities. I usually conduct daily inspections of the properties and check in with customers – there’s a lot of walking around the estate.

Typically, most days involve meetings, phone calls and emails. Some meetings are planned in advance and others happen spontaneously throughout the day. I am often coordinating contractors, managing defects, engaging with customers and the Goodman team, and ensuring that our buildings comply with safety regulations.

What are your responsibilities and who are your stakeholders?

I’m responsible for conducting daily site inspections and managing landscaping presentations and maintenance schedules to ensure they are on track. I also manage contractors to ensure compliance with both legislative and Goodman operational requirements.

Managing the day-to-day operations of buildings requires comprehensive knowledge of services such as HVAC, electrical, fire, hydraulics, lifts, landscaping, and pest control. I also deal with a broad range of stakeholders, including our customers and contractors, as well as internal stakeholders.

What other departments do you work with?

I work with a variety of teams including senior management, development, operations, property management and the building team.

It’s great working hand-in-hand with the property and development teams as I see the buildings come together from the ground up. We work together across a range of tasks, from coordinating systems audits to rectifying defects.

Working with operations mostly concerns managing issues around compliance and safety, whereas working with senior management can involve anything from discussing budgets, contributing to strategy developments and receiving guidance and mentorship.

Are there any misconceptions about the building management world that you would like to address? How true is the stereotype that construction and building management is a boy’s club?

My experience has been really positive. I deal with many different people in unique roles and from all walks of life. Building management is not gender-specific and Goodman promotes diversity and inclusiveness, alongside advocating for women in the industrial property sector.

I find my role in this industry dynamic, with varied responsibilities and opportunities – building managers handle everything from maintenance through to operations and customer relations.

What are some career highlights?

My current role has already given me a few career highlights. I was honoured to be given the opportunity to manage a new estate at Oakdale West and manage high-profile customers such as Australia Post, Woolworths, and Telstra.

It has been a great learning process to be involved in Oakdale’s construction phase and see the initial project vision come to fruition.

What are the main challenges and obstacles within the building management world?

Some common challenges include dealing with unexpected maintenance issues, coordinating multiple contractors and vendors, managing customer expectations, and ensuring operations comply with regulations.

I believe that with effective problem-solving and communication skills, solutions can be developed, and obstacles subsequently overcome.

What do you see as the biggest changes to building management in the last five years?

I think the biggest changes in building management have manifested in the areas of diversity, sustainability and technology.

Improvements have been made to technology that has enhanced our systems and processes, in addition to producing valuable building data. We now have more refined safety processes and maintenance schedules, in addition to relying on different platforms to record data.

The focus on the environment continues to grow, and sustainable features and green building practices are now a non-negotiable aspect of new buildings. It has been interesting to learn more about sustainability and witness first-hand the advances in energy efficiency, renewable energy sources, solar panels, and electric vehicle (EV) chargers.

Another changing area is diversity. It is fantastic to see that efforts are being made to promote diversity in hiring practices and leadership roles, to ensure a more inclusive and equitable workforce.

Do you find your background in education, particularly working at a behavioural needs high school, relates to building management and collaborating with people from all walks of life?

Even though you wouldn’t think the two careers are alike, there are so many similarities. Teaching and building management involve effectively communicating with people, just in different capacities.

As a teacher, I interacted with students, parents and colleagues to educate and support the learning process, while, as a building manager, I work with customers, contractors, builders and colleagues to ensure the smooth operation and maintenance of our properties.

Written by Helena Morgan. Photography supplied by Goodman Group.

This story was first published in Facility Management. To read the article in full, click here.

Comment below to have your say on this story.
If you have a news story or tip-off, get in touch at
Sign up to
INCLEAN’s newsletter.

Leave a comment:

Your email address will not be published. All fields are required