I was recently introduced to Holly Porter who invited me to a fundraising dinner hosted by Chicks with Bricks to raise money for the Prince's Trust. Chicks with Bricks is a proactive network set up to support women in the built environment. It was founded by Holly in 2005 with an aim to connect emerging and established female leaders in the construction industry. Chicks with Bricks held this dinner to raise money for The Prince's Trust and specifically its Built Environment Leadership Group, an industry-led initiative formed in 2006 which aims to support disadvantaged young people and women into the construction industry. Given my interest in all things property and my passion for supporting young people with their future careers, I was intrigued to hear more about the work of both organisations and so attended the dinner.
The event was held in The Ned, a beautiful hotel and an example of how creative we can be with developing buildings in inner London. A once disused Midland Bank, through a collaboration between Soho House & Co and the Sydell Group (very much in tune with the Mishcon de Reya/Estates Gazette ethos), this Grade I listed building is now host to an exquisite 5* hotel and members' club.
I entered a reception room on the sixth floor and was met with a sea of faces but, unusually for a property related event, many women. I networked away over champagne with some friendly men and women ranging from kitchen designers, and property developers to engineers and academics all with an interest in development in the UK.
After bubbles we were moved into the drawing room. There were 3 speakers on the night – all inspiring women of course.
First up was Michela Hancock, Senior Development Director at Greystar, who spoke about her inspiring journey into the industry despite her father's attempts to put her off and shared her experience of securing her job whilst heavily pregnant.
We then had the privilege of hearing from Victoria Quinlan, Chief Operating Officer of Lendlease Europe who shared her top tips for women in the industry.
Finally, we heard from Milly Rawley, a 20 year old woman from Dartford who bravely shared a story about depression, abuse and homelessness before she found The Prince's Trust. With their help and through participating in their Women in the Built Environment programme, she is now in the Prince's Trust's administrative team and says that she has been able to develop self-belief and trust herself and others again.
The stories, journeys and lessons learned from these three women were empowering and I hope women in the industry will continue use platforms such as these to make themselves more visible to inspire others. Organisations such as Women Talk Real Estate are doing a fantastic job of making sure that this happens.
Some fabulous prizes were up for auction, including tickets to see Mariah Carey, lunch with Lord Sebastian Coe and a long weekend on the French Riviera. Charles Hanson MRICS did a fabulous job of encouraging bids and a total of £12,400 was raised as a result.
The evening was hugely inspiring to both men and women and being surrounded by such high achieving women in the industry really makes one wonder how, in 2017, women represent only 12% of the industry. This is not acceptable and it is great to see Chicks with Bricks as well as The Prince's Trust taking steps to change this. I look forward to embracing the Chicks with Bricks network and meeting more inspirational women in the industry with whom I can connect with others and collaborate with as the real estate and construction landscape in the UK continues to be transformed.