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Women at Work: Louise Morris

Laura Peppas

In this unpredictable market, starting your own business can be incredibly risky. Entering a business with family can be even riskier. 

But when Louise Morris’ father Barry asked her to set up a property development business with him, she never had a doubt it would be successful. 

“My dad set up a business with his parents when he was my age, so I was confident that a family business model would work in our family,” she says. 

It seems Louise’s predictions were right on target—since establishing Morris Property Group in 2009, she and Barry have seen the delivery of over 900 apartments in Canberra. The firm has grown to a team of 20, including Louise’s brother James, and also has a Queensland office. 

As the director of development, Louise’s duties range from delivering apartments off the plan to clients or commercial buildings to large tenants. Her involvement is down to the last detail – for instance, she will often work out where power plugs are placed. 

In December 2013, Louise was awarded the 2013 Australian Property Institute Young Achiever of the Year for the ACT. 

She says watching developments unfold is a highlight of the job. 

“One thing I never get sick of, is when after you’ve helped people with their homes and they’ve moved in, you might drive past and the lights are on, people have hung art on the walls—you realise they’re living in something you’ve made,” she says. 

Louise will often go from visiting construction sites, hardhat in tow, to business meetings with clients in the same day. Her latest projects include the much-anticipated Mayfair Apartments in the city, where demolition is underway, and the Macquarie Park townhouses near Jamison Plaza, which recently commenced construction. 

She says over the years she’s noticed a shift in the “Australian dream,” with a surge in demand for apartments and townhouses. 

“What we’re seeing now is our clients like to live local, so they will buy in an area where there’s shops and a school and where there’s an easy walk to work, there’s a lot less drive to have the detached house and the long commute—which is the old version of the Australian dream—because the new dream is being amongst friends and having that bustle, convenience and the lifestyle,” she says. 

“We’re seeing a preference certainly for apartment living; many people have pets in their apartments now, and families are living comfortably. People are looking for apartments that give them everything; storage, a workable kitchen, they’re becoming more savvy about where they live. Living in an apartment doesn’t have to mean living in a shoebox.”

Louise, a third generation Canberran, studied a Bachelor of Law and Commerce at the Australian National University and practiced in commercial law for Meyer Vandenberg before her venture with her father. 

She says working in property law gave her a taste for construction and planning issues.

“I found I wanted to be on the client side more than the law side,” she says. 

“It’s a challenging industry—you’ve got to think strategically all the time, you need to have a good understanding of how your detailed decisions can impact the finer details but also how strategic decisions can have a flow down effect, how the big picture and small picture work, and also how well the project can adapt to peoples needs.”

Louise is expecting her second daughter in May and says having a work/life balance is important, particularly when members of your family are colleagues.

“We set down ground rules when we opened our office, acknowledging that we would need to be very careful about blurring the lines between family and business,” she says. 

“We don’t think it’s fair that family get togethers end up being project meetings…We just get so excited about what we are doing!”

For more information on Morris Property Group, visit them online


Laura Peppas

Laura Peppas is HerCanberra's senior journalist and communications manager and is the Editor of Unveiled, HerCanberra's wedding magazine. She is enjoying uncovering all that Canberra has to offer, meeting some intriguing locals and working with a pretty awesome bunch of women. Laura has lived in Canberra for most of her life and when she's not writing fervently she enjoys pursuing her passion for travel, reading, online shopping and chai tea. More about the Author