On the afternoon of the 25th of March 2014, the Franco-British Chamber of Commerce and Industry partnered up with World Woman in Real Estate (W.W.I.R.E) to hold a seminar and workshop, at the Cercle de l’Union Interraliée, on the subject of the ever-changing role of executive women in real estate. The seminar began with a short introduction from Bob Lewis, the President of the FBCCI, followed by a word from W.W.I.R.E. founder, Janicka Bassis, who presented the objectives of the organisation: to aid and promote networking between successful women in the real estate world. She recalled the inspiration behind the origins of W.W.I.R.E. and went on to discuss its future and possible impact on the industry.
Robert James Oliver, former Senior Vice President of Joseph P. Day Realty Corp. and now a lecturer at Sciences-Po University in Paris, introduced and moderated what became a lively exchange of ideas between a panel of some of the most prominent female members of the real estate industry.
The speakers were Stéphanie Bensimon, Director of Transactions France/Belgium at Invesco; Corinne Colson-Lafon, President of Steam’O; Dominique Dudan, president of Union Investment; Karine Rougé Director of Services and Investment at Ocea Smart Building; and Janet Stewart-Goatly, Director of CBRE.
After a few words from each speaker about their background and experience, the panel centred the discussion on changes being implemented in the industry, with a focus on those brought about by women. Following this, the audience were invited to ask the panel questions. The topic of recruitment of women in the industry was raised, as well as the proportion of women in board rooms and how best to increase that number.
The afternoon then progressed to the workshop part of the meeting, where the guests in tables of 10 were given a set of broad questions, about personal experience in the industry, and a topic to focus their answers around. These topics were work-life balance; work and flexibility; leadership and management and talent recruitment.
After a fifteen minute discussion, one speaker from each table came forward and presented their table’s ideas in relation to the topic they were given. Here, a wider range of issues were addressed, including international opportunities, and the advantages of moving abroad compared to within one’s own country; graduate schemes and recruitment; specific training for the real estate business; and the importance of having a mentor or ‘sponsor’ in the work place, capable of leading and supporting ambitious women.
The workshop leader, Claudia Garcia – founder of DARE to, a leadership program for women – brought the seminar to a close, giving the floor to Bob Lewis and Janicka Bassis, who each concluded with plans for next year’s seminar. The meeting was a real success with both organisers hoping to create a White Paper on best practices for helping to develop the careers of executive women in the real estate industry.