22 October 2008, Cream of Surrey
As women rise meteorically through the ranks in business, competing for the US Presidency, becoming Prime Minister of the UK and other countries, occupying senior posts in medicine, science, the literary arena, corporate business and indeed without limits in any field, we look at some of the successful women in the property world. Long gone are the days when lady novelists felt compelled to conceal their identity behind such names as George Eliot, George Sand or Ellis Bell, not daring to be seen to be intellectuals. And women, we find as we talk with some of the top people in property, are not simply incisive thinkers but unafraid to use their femininity to their own advantage. Many have paved the way before there could be such progress, and women now not only hold the respect of their peers of either sex, but achieve superlative results, particularly in their dealings with people.
Our research found that in the world of property in particular clients were prepared to open out to a woman in a way that they found more difficult when dealing with a male voice on the phone or the presence of a man when viewing houses. Some of our interviewees found that this response was logical, since many of their clients were women and it was women who ultimately chose the house in which their family would live. Buying, letting and selling property is not simply a business transaction but also a highly emotional one; possibly the most important lifestyle decision people are ever called upon to take. Below, we look at the answers to a series of questions we asked which are both surprising and optimistic on the subject of Women in Property.
Camilla Dell of Black Brick Property Solutions
Having set up her own property search agency at the beginning of last year, Camilla Dell, Managing Director of Black Brick Property Solutions, is yet more proof that women can be incredibly successful in the property world. Black Brick, which operates in Central London and South East England, has a client list brimming with high net worth individuals, many of which are men. But Camilla doesn’t feel her status as a woman is particularly limiting. “The only time it can be a slight issue, “ she says, “is when dealing with clients of certain cultures and nationalities, who are still living in the dark ages when it comes to doing business with women. It’s rare, but it does still happen.” Although the majority of Black Brick’s clients are male, their wives will naturally have input in the decision making process when it comes to buying property. Camilla believes a woman’s ability to empathise with both parties, understanding the pressures of both husband (financial and time) and wife (family needs), is something which is valued by her male clients and something which can make women better consultants in the property world. Rather than being a limitation, being a woman may indeed have it’s advantages. Camilla finds her entrepreneurial clients enjoy dealing with successful women, and in fact support it. She is certain that her company has won business from its competitors as a direct cause of it being run by driven and ambitious women. “It gives us an edge”, she says. When asked about the ‘feminine touch” Camilla feels it is very important that this never be confused with the ‘soft touch’. “Some of the most ferocious, driven and successful people I know in property are women,” she says. “It is precisely because of that drive that they are where they are. So in that sense yes, the feminine approach can be more effective.” For Camilla, the most lucrative skill in property is being able to combine drive, ambition, tenacity and professionalism, maintain a balanced outlook on life and be able to understand both sides of the equation (male and female). She garners a huge amount of satisfaction from every part of her job – winning business, closing deals, satisfying clients, getting referrals from happy clients, and, something she sees as essential in maintaining a successful business, having a happy, driven and motivated team behind her.