Quality mentors can give women a helping hand in our industry

One of the big lessons from my career has been the importance of having good mentors who act not only as a role model, but as a sounding board.

I have benefitted from some fantastic tutors throughout my life who have played a big part in my career. It started with my mum, who taught me that hard work pays off, and has continued into my working life.

For example, I was a branch receptionist at Halifax when I was identified as someone with the potential to be a mortgage adviser. I was trained by Christine Newell, who is now mortgages technical director at Paradigm. She is a great supporter, and gave me the confidence to believe that I am good at what I do. That sort of support and guidance stays with you.

If we are to improve the prospects for women within the property industry, then we need to do a better job identifying good mentors, and those who are willing to fulfil such a position. Personally, I am a firm believer in giving something back to help the next crop of talent coming through. It’s why I became a school governor 14 years ago and, at the same time, I have benefitted as it has informed the way I work with peers. It can be as simple as sharing ideas around what has worked well for me, and what hasn’t.

However, it’s not just for mentors to steer young, female talent. It’s vital for these talented women to have the confidence to ask for help when they need it. This isn’t always easy, particularly for women who may feel wary about how this will be viewed by their bosses and peers alike.

Yet, the reality is that asking for help is not a sign of failure — it’s actually a strength. Believe me, bosses will always value staff who are well aware of their own limitations and know when they need some assistance.

It’s certainly true that there are times when women are treated differently in this industry. I spent some time as a mortgage adviser at Connells, and it was during this period that I took up golf. I did so because I got so fed up with mortgage lender BDM’s saying they didn’t think I would enjoy a golf day, assuming I didn’t play. Despite this, I believe that it’s important that women stay true to themselves — be who you really are. Today’s market is much more accommodating and understanding; it’s through women being open and expressing themselves that further improvements can take place.

It’s worth remembering that the property industry has come a long way when it comes to gender equality. There’s no disputing the fact that there is still a long way to go on this front, but real, tangible progress has already been made. We are seeing more women being appointed to significant roles within the sector, and we have some fabulous young women making strides too, and I know they will bring about further change. I’m confident that in their hands we will see the prospects improve further for women at all levels of their career.

Are you a woman in the financial services industry keen to get your voice heard? Contact [email protected] - we would love to chat!

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