I know our readers, so I won’t even begin to explain the reasons why this blog is somewhat belated. This is “life in strata” after all. You get it. Crazy times.

On Thursday 8 March we gathered together at the stunning Park Hyatt Sydney to celebrate International Women’s Day (IWD) with a scrumptious high tea overlooking unparalleled Sydney Harbour. What a glorious day.

Thank you to SCA (NSW) for taking a slight leap of faith and partnering with Women in Strata on this event. Registrations surpassed capacity almost immediately, resulting in the need to schedule two sessions. I am not sure I’ve ever seen so many mini cheesecakes in one day (notice I said “seen” not “eaten”… Alright. Maybe just two. It was a long day 😉 )

Suzanne Mercier spoke to us of “confidence” vs “competence” and asked the question: why do we equate the two? As women, she said, we often struggle to find the same level of “confidence” as our male counterparts (I just loved the story of her husband admiring his growing belly and shedding scalp!). Does that mean we lack competence? Not at all. Suzanne gave us some actionable tips for how we might tap in to our unique skills and share those with the world in a way that is uniquely ‘us’.

This dovetailed nicely with my presentation when I shared with you the business case for “being unapologetically you”, drawing on my own experience as a property lawyer who’s a little left of center, the result of which is a thriving business where I get to work with my ideal clients every day. I was thrilled to be approached by a number of you after the presentation, sharing with me your own experiences as you struggle to stay true to “you” in the midst of balancing your sometimes conflicting roles as wife, mother, boss, manager, and woman. Thank you for sharing your stories so candidly. I’m looking forward to seeing many of you again on 17 April 2018 at Your Strata Property – Live.

Some lively discussion (was it the champagne in the afternoon session perhaps?) led to an important comment from the floor: “We all have a voice. We need to remember to use it”. That is very true, and there are some very experienced, senior managers and sector specialists who have been in this industry for many years, who are particularly confident when it comes to using their voices. From them, we have much to learn. To them, we look for strength, advocacy, and support. We encourage them to lend their voices to those who may not yet speak with as much confidence.

Such is the beauty of a group like Women in Stratawe are able to connect voices with the voiceless, through our events, mentoring program and regular touch points, like this blog.

One such highly experienced, accomplished woman with a powerful voice is Kellie Wright, CEO of Clisdells. Kellie wrote to me very soon after the event, with her own inspirational words, and I have her permission to share them with you today. Thank you, Kellie.

What Glass Ceiling?

By Kellie Wright

I can’t remember a time when I didn’t want children I also can’t remember a time when I didn’t want a career.

I grew up in a very traditional home in the country, my father worked to bring in the money and my mother worked at home, keeping the house, my sister, my father and much later on my little brother, clean, clothed, feed on home cooked meals, and very loved. Despite my mother offering to go out to work, my father always maintained that he would provide for the family, just like his father and grandfather had. Mum never begrudged that, well not that she let on to us anyway, she loved looking after us.

You would think then that my father would have difficulty accepting my determination to have a career and a family. He, and my mother, never ever did, they were and still are incredibly supportive and proud of my achievements.

If my old fashioned traditional parents didn’t believe there was a glass ceiling that was going to stop me from having a career and two young children, why would anyone else? Maybe some might say that I’m a lucky one, I have never felt that I was treated differently because I was a woman, at 17 I had my Real Estate Salespersons licence, at 21 I was the mother of one baby and co-owner of two companies. At the time I didn’t appreciate the magnitude of that, I just did it, because in my still very small world, why wouldn’t I?

Fast forward a few years, divorced, two children and one of the few young women working in strata. Sure when I look back now, there were the times when if I really want to I can recall when I should have been paid what the male before me was, or I should have been offered that promotion before one of the “boys”but I honestly never felt that I was being held back because I was a woman.

I made the most of the opportunities that came my way, I fought back from knockdowns and negativity and as the country girl in me grew more determined and confident, I went looking for more opportunities. Sure I had many a nervous “imposter syndrome” moment, and still, do from time to time but I knew if I worked hard that I would be recognised and reap the benefits.

And never ever did I see a glass ceiling.

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