Steve Ayris, the 320th person I’ve met on my quest to have lunch with 500 strangers, has property and finance running through his veins.

Steve is the West Australian state manager for Specialist Finance Group (SFG), one of the country’s leading mortgage broking aggregation groups. His role takes in everything from liaising with lenders and recruiting brokers to helping brokers grow their businesses and running professional development days for brokers.

That requires industry knowledge and relationship-building skills – both of which Steve has in abundance.

Steve began his career in banking. Later, he sold project homes, which involved more than just basic sales – Steve also had to do unofficial credit assessments on interested buyers, to ensure they were likely to be approved for a home loan. Steve then switched from property back to finance, serving as director of Westland Mortgages, until, in 2007, he sold the business to his current employer, SFG.

As we were having lunch, what struck me about Steve was how much interest he took in me and the insightful questions he asked. Steve might have decades of experience, but I suspect his social skills are even more important. To be a good leader and salesperson, you need to be good with people.

Thanks for a great lunch, Steve.