an image of Joanne Thorlby

Joanne has been integral in running Watson Group (New Zealand) since its inception a decade ago. She is responsible for driving high quality delivery through oversight of operations, accounting, design, marketing, and support functions on Watson Group projects. 

Prior to joining Watson Group in 2015, she had a decade long career at EY as a project management, accountancy and management consultancy. Joanne is a Chartered Accountant and has a Mathematics Bachelor degree with Honours from Loughborough University (UK). 

Joanne Thorlby

We caught up with Joanne after she completed our programs on Real Estate Development Fundamentals and Real Estate Finance Fundamentals in June 2024.

The Watson Group is a vertically integrated developer – please describe your role.  

I am responsible for operations at Watson Group, a vertically integrated developer. I work across the entire value chain, from site acquisition, through to design and build, and management, as well as many internal support functions, such as finance and accounting, design, marketing and sales. It’s very varied and every day is different, I love it!

You traveled about as far as you could to take these programs. What compelled you to travel from New Zealand to Cambridge to learn more about real estate?   

I wanted to learn from the best, and where better in the world than Harvard University? The framework for property development is global, so not only did I travel to Cambridge to learn at a prestigious university and world class lecturers, but also to meet and learn from my global cohort.

You signed up for both Real Estate Development Fundamentals and Real Estate Finance Fundamentals. Why did you choose to take both programs? And how was the experience?  

The two programs are intrinsically linked in their content and value, so it was a no brainer for me to do these together. Doing both courses together was invaluable – as the content is so synergistic. It was also super enjoyable due to having more time with both the lecturers and classmates, we built a special bond and gained so much value from our real-life reflections and group discussions.