International Women’s Day (IWD) is a day that celebrates how far women’s rights and gender equality have come, and highlights what still needs to be done. By sharing experiences, storytelling and calling out imbalances we all have the opportunity, and even a duty, to shape the current state of play and move the dial for the future.  

Looking back through my career and reflecting on my personal experiences there were occasions where I felt my career development stagnated, particularly during a time mid-career when I was stuck at senior consultant level for about 11 years, and I had difficulty getting on the first rung of the management ladder. It could’ve been partly due to being off on maternity leave for a spell and working part time, which resulted in me being overlooked for promotions at that point in my career. However, once I found the confidence to move and pursue a change that enabled me to progress and move up in my career, I’ve not looked back. 

I’m now a Regional Managing Director and an honoured member of Hollis’ Management Board, where I am proud to sit alongside two other women board members: Kerry Macleod, Chief Technology Officer and Melanie Olrik, Chief People Officer. I am responsible for overseeing our operations across Scotland, Ireland and Northern Ireland and lead our environmental consultancy service.  

 Encouragement and support to lift-up others 

Strong female role models are essential and I’m a firm believer in the saying “if you can’t see it, you can’t be it”. Once you reach a stage where you can inspire and encourage other women, I feel we have a responsibility to support and create opportunities to lift other women so they can attain their desired goals. 

It’s fair to say that women are under-represented in the real estate industry, and this year’s IWD theme is inspiring inclusion. At Hollis, we support, develop, and empower women in our business through multiple initiatives engineered specifically to help and enable women, like our Women’s Mentoring Programme. I’m always pleased to take part in the programme and share some of my insights and experiences gained from working for over  20 years in the real estate industry with women at different stages in their careers. During mentoring sessions, we explore options, identify strengths, and areas for development, and hatch a realistic and achievable plan.  

I find this very rewarding, as I am passionate about building self-belief and bolstering women to take their careers wherever they want.  Women in business face a different set of hurdles to men when it comes to career development and progression, so it’s vital that women can seek support and advice from others who have been there. 

Professional development and networks 

We also offer the opportunity for membership to the organisation Women in Property (WiP), which creates opportunities, expands knowledge, and inspires change for women working in the property and construction industries. WiP provide professional development opportunities, including external mentoring, CPD (Continuing Professional Development) and an annual conference, as well as local networking and learning events. Additional programmes at Hollis include our ‘Let’s Talk… Women in Property’ and Unconscious Bias sessions, where we discuss the barriers topics and share our experiences to learn from one another. 

Open discussions 

While we are going in the right direction in offering support and creating spaces for open discussions and learning internally, we still have a long way to go as a sector in displaying more gender equality. Change will only come not by upskilling women or changing behaviours to fit in a man’s world, but by enabling women to tap into their strengths and values and supporting women to stand out. I look forward to seeing the industry continuing to improve on inspiring inclusion throughout.