#IWD2020: Superstar women in property

With International Women’s Day shining a spotlight on gender issues around the world, PrimeResi profiles twelve property industry leaders pushing the boundaries and changing the game…

With International Women’s Day shining a spotlight on gender issues around the world, the UK property industry is again shifting uncomfortably in its seat. Long-standing disparities are being addressed, but progression is happening at a glacial pace, and women in property remain a minority.

The industry wants change. According to a recent survey by Real Estate Balance, 80% of employees believe that company action to address gender issues is important to their job satisfaction – and over three-quarters of men also see it as a priority.

Despite this, it is thought that women make up just 30% of senior leadership roles in property and 42% in middle management roles – both of which are down from 2017 (Diversity in Real Estate Survey 2019).

Celebrating women’s achievements in the industry, PrimeResi profiles twelve leaders and teams pushing the boundaries and changing the game…

The developers

Kathrin Hersel, property director of development firm Almacantar
Kathrin Hersel, Almacantar’s property director

As Almacantar’s property director, Kathrin manages all development, asset and investment functions at the London-based developer, covering site assembly, planning, design, construction and leasing of the development pipeline.

She is directing the team in the delivery of some of the most high profile projects in London – The Bryanston, Hyde Park a partnership with the Portman Estate, Centre Point on Tottenham Court Road, and Lyons Place.

Before joining Almacantar in 2012, Kathrin was development director at Land Securities where she worked on a range of transformational developments including One New Change, Wellington House and 20 Fenchurch Street. Kathrin is a Chartered Surveyor and board member of the Westminster Property Association.

Francesca Sharkey, development manager at Qatari Diar

A trained architect, Francesca studied at the University of Cambridge, the Welsh School of Architecture and qualified with Distinction from the Royal Institute of British Architects. Before joining developer Qatari Diar she worked on several prime resi schemes across London including Quadrant 4 for The Crown Estate and Merchant Square for European Land.

Francesca is now Qatari Diar’s Development Manager for Chelsea Barracks (Phases 1-3), an entirely new neighbourhood being created in Belgravia. Having joined the team in Spring 2015 she currently works on the developments of Chelsea Barracks from all stages of concept design and planning through tender and construction to completion and handover.

Jessica Parsley, development manager at Clivedale London

Jessica completed her architectural training whilst working for Terry Farrell and Partners, and went on to manage both design and construction phases on high-end resi projects including Chelsea Waterfront, Earls Court Phase One and Paddington Gardens as well as the £1bn over-station development at North Greenwich for Knight Dragon.

As of February 2018, she has been managing the delivery of Mayfair based super-prime developer Clivedale London’s second ultra-prime commercial offering, 73-77 Brook Street – overseeing the full project cycle of the project which will be launching this year.

The designers

Laura Hammett, founder of interior design studio Laura Hammett
Laura Hammett

Since launching in 2008, Laura Hammett has grown her eponymous business into a thriving luxury global design studio. Today she has 174k followers on Instagram (@laurahammett.interiors) – one of the highest in design world.

A trained interior architect, Laura’s talent was spotted early on, when she was snapped up within two weeks of graduating from Brighton University in 2001 by high-end interior design agency, Godrich and was involved in the design of various celebrity homes. After a stint with style maven and designer Suzy Hoodless, Laura set up online boutique Echo Interiors in 2007, where she curated art and luxury homewares hand-crafted by emerging designer-makers from across the world, such as Reynoldsware ceramics and Johnstons of Elgin cashmere, with whom she still works today.

Laura Hammett’s signature classic-contemporary designs are now highly sought-after by the world’s top developers and homeowners. Recent work ranges from properties in London (including a very grand Grade I listed townhouse in Fitzrovia and multi-unit development in Kensington), to substantial family homes in India, Hong Kong (featuring a roof top pool), Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Switzerland and Brussels, as well as private apartments in New York, Miami, Athens, China, Paris, a private residence in Cannes – and a 19-seat private jet.

Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara, co-founders of architecture practice Grafton Architects
Yvonne Farrell & Shelley McNamara

In a remarkable double, Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara’s Grafton Architects won the 2020 Royal Gold Medal for Architecture – the UK’s highest honour for architecture, bestowed by the Queen herself – and the annual Pritzker Prize, billed as “architecture’s Nobel”.

Grafton was founded by Farrell and McNamara in 1978, and has created a wide range of striking buildings around the world, from Dublin apartment blocks and private homes to a university campus in Peru.

The firm won the World Building of the Year award in 2008 for the Universita Luigi Bocconi in Milan, got the Silver Lion for their exhibition at the Venice Biennale in 2012, picked up the inaugural RIBA International Prize in 2016 for UTEC in Lima, and curated Venice Architecture Biennale in 2018.

The entrepreneurs

Olga Turner Baker of Ekkist
Olga Turner Baker, co-founder of WELL Building Standard consultancy Ekkist

Olga is a chartered surveyor and WELL Building Standard Accredited Professional, and is one of the first people in the UK to become a WELL Faculty member. She advises both developers and private clients on how to build/renovate to the WELL Building Standard and how to make healthy changes to homes.

The former Savills and CBRE consultant was named as one of EG’s rising stars of the year in 2016, and was listed in the Forbes 30 under 30 rundown last year (in the Manufacturing and Industry category). Turner Baker’s latest venture, AirRated, is a first of its kind for testing indoor air quality within residential homes.

Hannah Marsh, co-founder of HomeViews.com

After 12 years in the marketing business, at successful British luxury beauty start up Aurelia and FTSE giant GSK, Hannah Marsh co-founded HomeViews.com, described as the TripAdvisor of the property industry. Providing a platform for residents to post reviews and rate developments, the site now lists 900 build to sell and build to rent developments across eight UK cities and carries over 9,000 reviews ranking value, location, facilities, design and management.

The agents

Jo Eccles
Jo Eccles, founder of buying agency and property management firm SP Property

Following a stint at HSBC and Credit Suisse, Jo Eccles briefly worked in property PR before starting SP Property aged just 23 years old and today is one of the most successful property finders in London with a high-profile media presence (thanks to regular writings in the Metro, a sizeable following on Twitter and numerous television appearances).

Showing how buying agencies can successfully diversify into new areas, SP Property now manages over £1bn of residential property in London including prime developments like Lodha’s Lincoln Square project.

Lucy Jones, managing director, Rentify

After spending 16 years at LSL, Lucy Jones moved to Knight Frank, where she set up and managed the Investment Lettings and Management team before being promoted to equity partner and then Head of Lettings. She is now joined by many of her former Knight Frank team (including big industry names Giles Barrett and Matt Hahn) at new online lettings agency Rentify.

Knight Frank’s Priya Black

Priya Black, department head, Baker Street New Homes, Knight Frank

Heading up Knight Frank’s Baker Street-based new homes team, Priya Black is in charge of marketing some of London’s most exciting new developments, from King’s Cross to Southbank Place, on behalf of the capital’s biggest players, including Argent LLP, Canary Wharf Group and Ballymore.

Becky Fatemi, managing director of PCL agency Rokstone

Set up in 2011 and based on Marylebone’s ultra-cool Chiltern Street, Rokstone is the only all-female agency operating in PCL and has sold nearly £1 billion worth of real estate in the capital’s luxury core.

The firm’s “360-degree” service includes selling incredible homes at record-breaking prices (the highest stands at £200m) on behalf of individual private clients, corporates and developers.

Becky Fatemi, MD of PCL estate agency Rokstone
The marketeers

Set up by former Luchford APM duo Tania Thomas and Henrietta Harwood-Smith in 2017, Maison’s collective of female senior property PRs have won a raft of big-name accounts in the face of stiff competition from more established names.

With a passion for design and wellbeing, the team manages global media relations, communications strategy, reputation management, partnership initiatives, events, and digital initiatives for clients spanning the worlds of property, lifestyle, interiors and architecture.

Tania Thomas and Henrietta Harwood-Smith of Maison Communications