In review – Emma Hendry on the Property Council of Australia’s “Girls in Property” Conference

How do you introduce girls and women to the Property sector? How do you encourage them to understand the opportunities and potential of an industry that generally seen as broad and vaguely defined?

Last week I had the opportunity to answer these questions and many more at the Victorian “Girls in Property” event hosted by the Property Council of Australia, where I was able to engage with an audience of girls yet to decide on their own career paths and demonstrate my own experiences through examples within the property sector.

In speaking on the day about some of the challenges and adversity in the industry, I wanted particularly to highlight the opportunities that the sector has afforded me;

Research & Future Skills – I have partnered with universities as a grant and innovation collaborator, micro-credential course creator and lend myself to provide keynote speeches, as well as judge & mentor events; such as hackathons and innovation workshops.

Leadership – As a female CEO in a male dominated industry I am an active role-model, and passionate about using my platform to promote diversity, with a focus on supporting women to pursue leadership roles.

Global Reach ­­­– It has not been without hard work, however my journey in this sector has brought me to a global stage, at international trade delegations & bi-lateral trade discussions, as well as global industry summits and conferences, sharing my insights amongst other distinguished executives recognised as global experts of their respective sectors.

More personally, the Property sector has afforded me a great career path full of challenges and hard work, but overwhelming benefits.

My approach to leadership within this space is defined by three key areas of focus:

I have held the objective of enhancing the safety and sustainability of cities and communities by enhancing our built-environment, through close collaboration with clients and championing opportunities to integrate new and emerging technologies to solve emerging problems and evolve the way my industry operates today.

The approach to solving industry problems is often performed best when you can work proactively in creating a new method of practice. I want to demonstrate to these girls, as much as the industry at large, the value of creation and the sharing of ideas in innovating and becoming thought leaders.

Standing up for what you believe in and recognising the opportunity to support people and worthy causes. One of my main objectives in mentorship has been to support diversity and inclusion, equality of opportunity and education for all.

A Career in Property

The Property sector is very much the backbone of Australia and its economy. It plays a role in our lives every single day; from our homes to our schools, offices and beyond.  Although female participation has been rising within the sector, we still have a long way to go. It isn’t just about gender diversity but rather a practice of diversity and inclusion for all – to attract, retain and develop the right talent to transform our sector.

For these young girls, it was important to stress the fact that sectors are going through the “fourth industrial revolution” – an emergence and enablement of technologies which is set to transform industries at an unprecedented rate. Moreover, as we are moving towards living 100 year lives & working in transgenerational workplaces, as well as adjusting for shifting socio-economic trends – the future generation of leaders will need to adopt a new way of approaching their careers. This will require us to rethink how things are done and how they should be done. As this transformation takes place, this will open up new opportunities and roles within the sector – many of which did not previously exist.

For a young student, the bombardment of new ideas and opportunities to decide between can be a daunting concept. The property sector for one is extensive, varied and diverse in the roles and skillsets that are required from both traditional roles to the new digital and technology driven roles; such as AR/VR developers, gamification, coders and digital architects.

Likewise, interpersonal skills are increasingly in demand and to compliment the rise of digitally enabled services, we see roles in trades, to project management, marketing and communications, managerial and even finance having a resurgence.

Another factor our current and future workforce need to consider is the shift in traditional work life, more jobs will become project, contract or freelance based – this could be within one workplace or employees could be lending themselves to multiple employers. This shift is a warning to steer clear of honing one skill-set and instead seek to be multidisciplinary.

As an employer, companies also need to keep abreast of changes; looking globally to find best practice and apply it locally, read the trends and account for this when looking into your employment and overall business strategy.

But one thing is clear: this is a great sector to be a part of, no matter what your skill base, background or interests are there is potential and opportunity for everyone.

In closing I wanted to leave these future leaders of industry with five key ideals, things which I have learned across my journey within this sector, lessons which I believe would be equally applicable to anyone about to enter the modern workforce:

  1. Never stop learning
    The best example of a leader is one who is constantly challenging themselves, as well as others, to learn and discover in all matters. If you don’t feel challenged or uncomfortable in your professional environment, you are not growing.
  2. Develop your portfolio career
    A diversified knowledge and skill base are in high demand across modern industry. It is critical to develop a well-rounded and versatile set of abilities within your field of expertise to become a valuable colleague.
  3. Find your passion
    This may take time but finding a profession or field of work which you feel motivated and passionate about contributing to will encourage you to develop professionally at a greater rate.
  4. Be yourself
    Authenticity is a must for those who want to establish themselves professionally. If you represent yourself authentically, you will be known as a reputable and esteemed professional and more importantly you will feel greater self-achievement.
  5. Don’t be afraid to fail
    Failure in the right context is a great teacher. A ‘fail fast and fail often’ approach allows a greater opportunity to learn, recover and better leverage opportunity in the future.

The new generation of leaders will have to tackle issues and build on ideas never imagined before. I hope that in delivering my experiences across the Property Sector, I can inspire these young girls to enter the workplace of the future with confidence and ambition.