"I am predicting a rebound in 2021 because, after the year that was 2020, I truly believe in the resilience and brilliance of caring and talented people."

What a difference a year makes

03/03/2021 20:21:49
Lessons learned from a year as National Chair of Women in Property
By Monica Green, director The Partners Group
Photo shows: Monica judging the 2020 Women in Property Student Awards with fellow judges via zoom.

MMonica Green, Women in Propertyany people would have said good riddance to 2020. It is a year that will be remembered for COVID-19, lockdown 1 and 2, furlough and recession. It was a difficult year with great loss, anxiety and fear. But it was also the year that I took up the reins as National Chair of Women in Property, and I will remember it with some fondness, despite its challenges.

Be careful what you wish for
I remember sitting in a restaurant in London with Property Week in February 2020 being interviewed about my ambitions for the year ahead (my chairmanship started on 1st March).  My theme for the year was flexible working: to encourage employers to embrace working from home, offer flexible hours of work and help their teams achieve a better work-life balance.  

The phrase “Be careful what you wish for” springs to mind as little did I know that COVID-19 and the subsequent Government-imposed national lockdowns would make working from home the norm, albeit combined with the stresses and strains of home schooling, for many people. Only time will tell if the positives of flexible working and working from home are adopted more widely in the post-pandemic world.
I have been a member of Women in Property for seven years and served on the Yorkshire and North East Committee as PR coordinator throughout this time.  I accepted the role as National Chairman because I believe there is still lots of work to do to challenge stereotypes, celebrate diversity, champion role models, and embrace flexible working (amongst many other things). Women in Property gives women in this industry a voice and the power to make change, and by working together we are even more powerful.

Teamwork was certainly the quality that helped the organisation pivot and respond to the challenges of 2020. Women in Property is a network of members from all disciplines within the property and construction sector, and in-person events were very much the norm.  So, like many other organisations we had to quickly take our events online, including our mentoring programme. This required the executive team and branch committees (who are all volunteers) to learn new skills, master Zoom, and support the membership at a time when their own lives were being turned upside down due to the pandemic.
One year on and members (and non-members) have enjoyed four mentoring sessions, eight podcasts, and almost 200 webinars featuring a wide range of CPD topics, personal development, mental health, inspirational speakers, informal networking, yoga and seasonal drinks.

Resilience and brilliance

Last year highlighted to me how even in tough times people display their resilience and brilliance.  This was the theme of our 2020 Student Awards presentation with guest speaker Antarctic explorer Felicity Aston MBE who inspired the student finalists and the rest of the virtual audience with her tales of sub-zero expeditions and finding the motivation to get out of her tent every day.

My year as National Chairman is drawing to its end, and whilst it had its challenges, it also had numerous successes and moments of which I am immensely proud. Pivoting the organisation so that physical CPD, networking and social events could take place online, making our mentoring sessions a success on Zoom, seeing flexible working become more acceptable and respected, launching our Inclusion Champion roles, and crowning a highly commended runner up and the winner of the student awards – everyone adapted quickly, showed great resilience, and were brilliant.

Whilst the future still looks uncertain and the economic recovery depends on the success of Brexit and the rollout of the vaccination programme, I am predicting a rebound in 2021 because, after the year that was 2020, I truly believe in the resilience and brilliance of caring and talented people.

Best of luck to all the incoming Branch Chairs and their committees, as well as to my successor Rachel Bell from Stride Treglown.