Stand up, says Leanne Pilkington
16 November 2018

The Women in Real Estate conference (WIRE) was only a couple of days ago, but we’ve already been flooded with questions, comments and feedback from those who attended (and those who didn’t) who want to keep the conversation going.

So, REINSW is launching the WIRE 2018 article series: a dedicated article for each keynote speaker so you can fully engage with their presentation and put their expert advice into practice.

First up is REINSW President and Laing+Simmons Managing Director, Leanne Pilkington…

Leanne Pilkington never saw the purpose of women’s events.

“I never wanted to stand out because I was always part of a male-dominated workplace and industry,” she says. “I didn’t want to separate myself.”

But after attending a women’s networking event (and with encouragement from her professional circle), Leanne emailed 12 women to ask if they’d like to join her for lunch and a chat about the real estate industry.

When 65 women turned up to the lunch, Leanne knew she was on to something and Real Women in Real Estate was born. But even then, Leanne still wondered why women's events were necessary. As she held more events, she answered her own question.

“In my experience, women communicate and engage differently when men are not in the room,” she says. “We want to be in a position where we can be vulnerable and communicate without being judged. And this makes women's events important.

“Women need to be inspired by others who have stories and challenges similar to their own. Real estate has been a boy’s club for a long time, especially in corporate leadership. But women are succeeding and thriving as managers, directors and agents every day. They just aren’t as visible or vocal as the men.” 

But being visible and vocal don't guarantee success. 


Listen, learn and adapt

Leanne says you must be prepared to listen to feedback, take it on board and make changes where necessary. 

“As a female leader, you cop a lot of flack for not solving every problem affecting women in the workplace. But understanding the challenges and showing how you overcome them sets the path for others to follow.

“As women, we know how to juggle competing responsibilities and understand the power of efficiency. This puts us in the perfect position to adapt to and embrace the benefits of technology in the real estate industry.

“In the near future, 70 per cent of property management jobs will become automated and by 2022, 50 per cent of businesses will lose staff because of technological advancement. 

"However, new jobs will arise in 38 per cent of those businesses because of technology. This means we have an opportunity.

"Tech-enabled agents will do a better job than those without it, that’s a fact. But at the core of our profession are the skills that can’t be replaced by artificial intelligence or technology. Skills like complex problem solving, critical thinking, creativity, emotional intelligence, negotiation and collaboration. These are skills agents – and in particular, female agents – exercise every day. We have these skills in abundance. 

"So, while we can dazzle our clients with new technologies – and we should – soon all agencies will have the same advantages and clients will once again respect what only we can offer: hyperlocal knowledge and emotional intelligence.” 

Investing in yourself

Realising the skills agents possess now can never be replaced by technology, Leanne made it clear to the audience that investing in yourself must be a priority. 

“When I was named General Manager of Laing+Simmons in 2000, I realised I didn’t have the skills to achieve this position in any other industry.

“I identified very quickly there were issues I needed to address and, more importantly, I took action,” she says. “I recognised I needed to learn and grow, so I achieved my MBA.

“There is so much opportunity available in our careers, communities and now enabled by technology. Don’t wait for me or anyone else to tell you to upskill. Stand up and take responsibility for your own personal and professional development. Do it for yourself now.

“Things are going to change, but everything you need to succeed is right in front of you.”

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