99% of our team is women
99% of our Lettings and Property Management team is now female, how did they all get into property, and how did this shift occur. From prima ballerina to vet, designer, psychiatrist, motor mechanic or party planner, our team didn’t all plan to work in property. But by happy accident, recommendation, friend or family influence, they have built successful careers in what is still a male-dominated industry with a ratio of 85% men to 15% women*.
Over the past four years, our lettings and property management teams at Royal Docks and Nine Elms have organically evolved to become 99%, all-women teams. Prospering on their skill, experience, and knowledge of property, people, and London as well as a shared sense of humour and a vision for quality service. We asked them about their experiences and working in the industry. We also asked our sole male letting agent for his view too.
So, we put our questions to Inga (IL), Lettings Manager, Lavinia (LC), Senior Lettings Negotiator, Sam (SC), Client Account Manager – training, Valentina (V), Property Manager and Chief Operating Officer of the shredder lol and Jack (JS), Senior Lettings Negotiator at our Royal Docks hub and to Victoria (VF), Lettings Manager, Evelina (EO), Lettings Consultant and Tanzila (TA), Senior Property Manager at Nine Elms. Here are some of their best responses.
How did you get into property?
Victoria and Jack were both influenced by women but from completely different places
in their lives.
JS: My sister built a career in property, and over the years, I talked to her about the industry, and the idea really stuck with me, and so I ended up following her into property.
VF: I used to watch Sarah Beeny and I just had the feeling that I would be good at it, so I started as a Junior Sales Negotiator and went on to become a manager just 18 months into the role. After the 2008 recession, I transferred to lettings due to the changing nature of the market. The rise of ‘generation rent’ and the demand in the lettings market has only consolidated my decision.
EO: I was introduced to the property industry by friends, and to be honest, I haven’t looked back.
SC: Connections. My ex-stepdad gave me my first job opportunity straight out of university, and it was in his estate agency!
LC: I love dealing with people, and so, property was very attractive to me.
Has being a woman been a help or hindrance?
Tanzila had to project a tougher persona, Inga and Evelina both feel that as women
they can build an instant rapport and are well received by clients. Sam commented on
being mistaken for a man, and yes, we asked Jack his opinion too! JS: At the negotiator level, I think women are favoured over men as they are perceived to
be better at converting deals and handling people. However, as you climb the career ladder,
you see that quickly change.
SC: It is funny, but from my name, people often assume that they will be meeting a man and so do a double-take when they meet me or speak to me on the phone.
LC: So far, I don’t feel that it has not made a difference either way.
VF: Honestly, this has depended on the company I worked at. In one company, in particular, where I was the only senior female manager, on occasion, I felt that my opinion or point of view was not taken seriously or treated as respectfully as that of my male colleagues during meetings.
TA: Being a woman in this field is not easy because it’s a very male-dominated industry, and I was the only girl in my office when I started. However, once I was trained and learned my role, my ability and knowledge started to earn me respect. I did have to prove myself and be strong, firm and in-control to be taken seriously.
What do you love most about the job?
Problem solving, speed, diversity, and competition, some different responses to the
SC: Problem solving, it is always fun when you think through a situation and find a great way to resolve it so that everyone is happy.
IL: I love that every day is different, and there is a lot of diversity in what I do. V: The people I work with and the fact that I feel like I am at home. I also get to put my ‘extreme’ organisational skills to good use with the team, who appreciate this aspect of my personality.
LC: The competitive marketplace and that no day is the same, and then best of all, the look on my clients’ faces when I secure their dream home for them.
VF: I love the industry and the speed of the London property market and discussing it with peers, clients, and industry experts. I enjoy managing a team and helping them achieve their goals.
EO: I love the dynamism of the job, London, and working with people from all over the globe.
What do you find most challenging?
Growing demand for rental properties is a welcome change in the market but does
come with its challenges, which most of the team seemed to agree on when answering
IL: Keeping up with demand is becoming more challenging in this market, we are often getting three or four interested parties in the same apartment.
V: Trying to keep landlords and tenants equally happy means working very quickly and thinking on your feet.
LC: Winning business in an increasingly competitive market to keep up with rising demand.
JS: The market has become very competitive with tenants wanting to put holds on apartments or trying to book them many months in advance.
VF: The competitive market, and sometimes the lack of loyalty from clients that you have worked with and often gone over and above, to help them with difficult circumstances.
EO: People not returning calls or not turning up to appointments or turning up without notice and wanting to view apartments immediately.
TA: I find it most challenging when the clients/tenants don’t fully understand how lettings works and what their responsibilities are and then treat me with disrespect. Often maintenance or issues with the property are tied to regulations that must be followed, and although I’m here to look after their best interests, they sometimes fail to see that.
How do you feel working in a team of mostly women?
SC: I like it. It is enjoyable, and there is less of the casual sexism that you find in offices
with largely male teams. The women here are quick to shut down any inappropriate
comment or joke.
IL: It is hugely enjoyable as we are a team of strong women, and that brings with it a unity to the team.
V: It makes for a great and supportive atmosphere, and I could not ask for more.
LC: Enjoyable, I like it and the team and the relaxed atmosphere we have.
JS: This is not my first time working in a largely female team. It is not something I think or get concerned about it is just business as usual.
VF: I Love it! Also, I am fortunate as we socialise together and have the same sense of humour.
EO: We have a fantastic atmosphere, and it just makes the job even more enjoyable
TA: I love the fact that I am now in an all-women team at Nine Elms. It just proves to me that gender no longer matters in this field anymore.
Where do you see your career going or do you think you will leave the industry?
LC: At the moment, I don’t see myself leaving the industry, I am not entirely sure what will
happen in the future or indeed when/if I will decide to start a family.
JS: I will definitely be staying in the industry and ideally getting more into the developing side, having managed a couple of refurb projects.
VF: I am content in my role for the moment as I am still learning and working on developing my coaching and management skills further. I doubt that I will leave the industry as I am too old to dance now!
TA: I don’t see myself leaving this industry. I have a huge passion for property, and since joining Strawberry Star my interest in development has also grown.
What advice would you give yourself as you were starting out?
We saved the best question for last:
SC: Don’t take things personally, I used to get stressed out over big property management jobs. I would tell the younger me to just do your very best, and it will be good enough.
IL: Put everything in writing. Confirm. Confirm and Confirm.
V: Be more confident and don’t stress over small things.
LC: Don’t doubt yourself and have more self-confidence!
JS: Make notes, work with as many different members of staff as you possibly can and learn from their strengths to develop a style that works best for you.
VF: Don’t take rejection personally.
EO: Be confident in your skin. Be the best you can be and always go the extra mile no matter what.
TA: I would tell myself to use the opportunity to learn all that I can; management, lettings, sales and anything related to this industry, so that I am not limited in my options, and have a wider range of experience.