Their actions have inspired others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more. This Women’s Day, 99acres celebrates women who have shown the courage to emerge as leaders in male-dominated industries. Here’s to STRONG Women. May we Know them, May we Be them, May we Raise them!
I joined corporate real estate industry in 2007 and have been a part of it since then. My first job was with a real estate consultancy firm and it was there that I realised that I have a passion for the same. I realised during the tenure that finding workplace solutions for end-users gave me a sense of accomplishment.
What/who was your inspiration?
Finding real estate solutions to large corporates was my goal and gave me immense satisfaction. My inspiration came from some of the established firms who were instrumental in helping large corporates setting up their operations in India.
Were you discouraged in your initial years of growth because you were a ‘woman’?
Yes, I did face some challenges in my initial years in the industry. Corporate real estate is probably considered one of the toughest industries for a woman to break in. It did take me some time to establish myself and build teams that believed in me and my vision.
What kept you going?
I have always believed in the saying “When the going gets tough, the tough gets going”. The harder the assignment, the more determined I was to succeed.
What other challenges did you face as a woman?
I would begin this answer by saying that “Being a woman is a blessing as well as a curse”, and I am not saying it as a philosophical statement. What I mean is, as a woman, people/clients are more open to interact and listen to you, on the other hand, our words are taken on a lighter note which results in unsuccessful transactions regardless of our constant efforts.
Do you think the society, especially in your industry, still prefers men over women?
Yes, to a large extent. I would like to substantiate it by pointing out that one does not find many successful women in this field.
Share one experience where you got the opportunity to prove your mettle.
Recently, there was a prestigious transaction approximating 3,00,000 sq ft to be executed for a reputed German multinational company in Bangalore. Being a large space acquisition, the client was being wooed by established stalwarts and regional players alike. With multiple players vying for the same assignment, what set us apart was our approach to the client’s requirement. Being a part of a sole occupier focused firm, we offered the client a solution, which went beyond his current real estate requirement. We offered a real estate solution that not only addressed his current requirement, but reduced time in transaction and also, saved millions of dollars in move management.
What really sets this experience apart is that despite competing with industry stalwarts, I was able to impress the client and prove my mettle.
Are you taking any conscious steps to battle gender bias in your field/organization? As a company, do you have any pro-women policies?
Corporate real estate is a traditionally a male-dominated industry. While it has taken some time to build my reputation in the industry, I constantly encourage women to take up challenging roles in the CRE world. As an advisor to clients, we are sometimes required to visit properties or showcase properties that may be at some remote locations or far off parts of the city. Thus, as a precautionary measure, one should be aware of the surroundings one is in or is getting into, be vary of who you are meeting and what you are eating or drinking before/during/after the meeting.
As an organisation, my current company ensures gender diversity and equality in the workplace and has several pro-women policies and benefits. To name a few,
- Strict action and expulsion from company in any case/complaint of sexual harassment at the workplace
- Cab service for late night pick up and drop if required
- 5 star accommodation at company listed hotels for outbound travels
- Regular women safety and self-defense workshops to train the female workforce on various threats they could face at any given point of time
- Besides these, my company also follows government standard policy directives such as maternity leave policy, work from home policy and healthcare policy.
What do you consider you biggest achievement so far?
My biggest achievement in the recent past was advising one of India’s biggest telecom giants in acquisition of an office space of over 100K sq ft, with a potential of creating over 1000 employment opportunities.
How is your company coping with the current issues the real estate sector is facing?
The recent reforms and initiatives by the government primarily affected the residential sector. We are an occupier focused workplace solutions firm focused on commercial, retail, hospitality and industrial sectors. Hence, being in the commercial real estate space, the impact was minimal.
Do you want to share a message to the budding women entrepreneurs out there?
As an advice to women who aspire to make it big in the industry, I only have one thing to say, believe in yourself and be passionate about your work. Apart from that, be assertive and take a firm stand when necessary.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the interviewees and do not necessarily reflect 99acres’ opinion or stand on a subject.