We're proud that a number of female colleagues and business leaders are celebrating long tenures with the firm in 2021, providing CI's valued clients with trusted guidance, specialty knowledge, and colleagues with ongoing collaboration and dedication.
With ongoing efforts from the property industry to advance gender equality, and the theme of this year’s International Women’s Day being #ChoosetoChallenge, we caught up with some of our leaders to explore what success and progress looks like for them. The respondents are Rujuta Shah, Head of Finance - Asset Management (Celebrating 12 years' with CI), Carmen Velasco, Executive Assistant and Quality, Health, Safety and Environment Officer (Celebrating 11 years with CI) and Sian Gow-Gates, Head of Corporate Real Estate (Celebrating 8 years with CI).
CI Australia: Is there an achievement you're most proud of in your career so far and why?
Carmen: I was once a Program Officer at the Australian Embassy in Manila (Philippines). The Ambassador had a discretionary fund to use on projects to improve the income and lifestyle of the disadvantaged. This gave me the opportunity to focus on projects that would benefit women particularly, including the funding of education of young women, learning candle making, sewing, creating jewellery and empowering them to set up small business enterprises. It was very uplifting to see it all happen and to see these women gain more confidence, independence and most importantly, some added income to their families.
Sian: Juggling my family and career is a key achievement for me so far. However I wouldn’t have been able to do this without the support of my family and CI understanding flexibility in working arrangements, particularly for those with young families.
Rujuta: As a people person, my team and the open and honest relationships I have with each individual is something I’m proud of. I’m a strong believer in that if something’s not working, we should change our approach to fit and nurture our people, not change the people to fit the approach. This mindset has helped me retain what I believe to be the best talent and attract new employees along the way.
CI Australia: Your achievements, experiences and skills are unique. How do you utilise them, along with your many years spent at CI, to add value for our clients?
Sian: Having worked in the UK and with a client base across Australia and New Zealand, I have a diverse background across a number of asset classes. This allows me to provide a holistic approach to all property matters for our clients.
Rujuta: I like to multi-task and as a result I often think outside the box about how to optimise benefits for our clients and our business that might not have been uncovered. My clients and colleagues appreciate this.
Carmen: There’s one golden rule that I’ve taught my children who are now adults - It’s that if you’re going to do something, you’ve got to do it properly. I apply that same principle and dedication at work to assist in maintaining a robust management system that we have in place, and maintaining our yearly QHSE certification.
CI Australia: What does the IWD 2021 theme of #ChoosetoChallenge mean to you?
Rujuta: I believe that #ChoosetoChallenge is summed up well in a broad sense by Sheryl Sandberg’s quote: “In the future, there will be no female leaders. There will just be leaders.”
Carmen: Do not be afraid to try new things or challenge a belief or system. You’d be surprised at what can be achieved!
Sian: Choosing to question inequality, rather than letting it slide.
CI Australia: What do you think is key for businesses when not only attracting but retaining female talent?
Sian: For me, a healthy work culture that is conscious of the gender balance within the group is key to this.
Rujuta: I’d like to see a more industry-wide approach to there not actually being any special rules or policies designed to attract and retain female talent specifically. I think policies like flexible working, support for parents and families and career progression should be available regardless of gender. Particularly in regards to hiring, qualifications and selection criteria should remain the same and to successfully achieve this, some companies still need to shift aspects of their culture or mindset.
Carmen: Ongoing support and the respect for those with families. In a modern world with access to great technology, we (women) are highly capable of managing both our careers and families and doing so in the way that works best for us.