Over the course of the last 3 months we have brought you interviews from some of the Powerful Women of Proptech in partnership with our friends at Proda.ai. This week is the last in the series of interviews which has brought us the perspective of women working in our industry and sees the tables turned as Proda's own Marketing Manager and interviewer throughout the series, Manisha Veja gets the chance to tell her story as the interviewee.
How did you first get into the PropTech industry and what does a typical work-day look like for you as Marketing Manager at PRODA?
MV: My first experience of the PropTech industry has actually been through PRODA itself. I joined at the cusp of the lockdown here in the UK, and have been experiencing the ‘new-normal’ of working from home, throughout the whole lockdown, at PRODA too. This has meant that my experiences with most of our wider team at PRODA, has been through slack and zoom, alone!
There’s really no such thing as a 'typical work-day' when handling the marketing responsibilities at PRODA. We are still a start-up that are doing something pretty different to anyone else in the PropTech sector right now, so just like the nature of the business, my role is also pretty unique. Some of the everyday tasks include everything from running marketing campaigns, alongside working on press releases to inform everyone about any exciting news PRODA has to share, and working on a virtual event, like the most recent for the PropTech industry: Reimagining Real Estate, as well as interviewing some of the amazing women that we have had the opportunity to feature in this blog series, over the last few months.
Having interviewed the range of female leaders in the PropTech sector over the course of this blog series, do you believe a shift is seen to be taking place, towards more females in senior positions in the PropTech space?
MV: I think it’s clear that there is a real effort by many people in the PropTech space to make this shift happen, and to see a lot more women in senior positions. However, like many of the women I spoke to during this series have also highlighted; this isn’t something that is likely to change overnight. A conscious effort needs to be made by employers and the senior decision makers in an organisation to make this ideal, a reality.
I know from personal experience, that having supportive management in PropTech is vital to bringing about a shift. Having come from a tech background myself, I also know the lack of senior female leaders is definitely not something that is exclusive to the PropTech industry, with the only difference being that tech is an older industry to PropTech, so change is much more likely to happen and welcomed more openly in PropTech.
It’s always daunting entering into a new industry where there are any kind of pre-conceived notions about gender that are holding new talent back, and that’s always going to be a difficult hurdle to overcome, but I do feel there are a whole lot of organisations pushing for a positive change. The PropTech industry is essentially made up of disruptors and innovators and its great to see the same forward-thinking attitude from organisations when pushing for a positive change with the current gender dynamic, within PropTech too. At the end of the day, any barriers causing a lack of new talent only means a lose-lose situation for any industry, regardless of gender.
What were some of the most common challenges and pressures that women feel they have faced in the PropTech industry?
MV: Many of the women I spoke to mentioned the lack of female speakers at major events, they spoke about how this, quite naturally, made them feel excluded and stresses the importance of giving more female leaders the opportunity to speak at these events. Seeing powerful female leaders speaking at events creates a role model that other women can aspire to be and this, in turn, encourages women to not only take that step in their careers towards PropTech but also ask for the promotions and job opportunities for those senior positions, if they’re already in the PropTech sector.
The lack of representation of females at major events only acts as another barrier discouraging women from entering the PropTech sector. Another challenge highlighted by a few women in our blog series was the pressure of constantly feeling the need to ‘keep up’ with their male colleagues, through the different stages of their lives.
In last week’s blog, Stephanie Rall mentioned how being a mother alongside working in PropTech, sometimes made it more difficult to keep up with all of life’s everyday demands. This further highlights the need for organisations to support women in the workplace in order for everyone to get a fair chance at promotions and opportunities, and not feel like they are being left behind.
The power of PropTech is undeniable, and the industry is considered one of the fastest growing in the world. When the world overcomes the current uncertainties we are all facing together, what do you believe the future will look like for PropTech?
MV: I think ‘post-Covid’ life has taught many of us to see life through a different lens, people have become much more introspective over the last few months and that means organisations have also turned their attention to how they operate and how to do so, in a better way. Our blog series highlights just one of the many ways that steps towards positive change are taking place.
There’s also a huge spotlight on health and well-being now, which means there are great advancements happening in PropTech, as well as other industries. Finally, I would say the importance of more effective use of time has also become a major theme recently. Working from home and cutting out the daily commute time, has forced many of us to allocate that time towards doing something much more productive with our working days, and has allowed many people to change their lifestyles completely.
What excites you the most when you think of the new future of PropTech that we are heading towards?
MV: The importance of saving time with the use of technology is probably the most exciting for me . Pre-Covid, people were happily spending hours travelling to work and this attitude is changing now, or has already changed, dramatically. The emphasis on saving time also extends to other parts of most business functions within real estate itself, and I think we have all turned towards working out how to be spending our time much more effectively.
The use of technology to make this happen is an exciting theme, because the possibilities are endless; technology like that of AI is at a place where many of us could not imagine it being, just a few years ago. PRODA itself focusses on the use of AI-technology to save people time when processing their rent roll data and that is what is exciting - the concept of saving time performing everyday tasks and instead allocating this time to other high-yielding tasks, that are often pushed to the back of our ‘to-do’ lists. The synergy of technology and real estate to change people’s everyday lives is something that is very powerful and exciting for me to see, especially with me being new to the industry.
Finally, what advice would you give to any young women or women in general who may be considering a career in PropTech, but feel there may be a barrier due to preconceived notions regarding gender?
MV: I came into PropTech industry as a newbie myself, and have not had a negative experience so my advice, of course, would be to go for it. I have had great support, both from within PRODA, as well as externally from organisations like UKPA with Frankie and Sammy or Louisa from LMRE and many more. Speaking to the women from this blog series, I can say the general consensus is the same; PropTech is a very welcoming and supportive space to be in, with no need for any reservations.
The lack of senior women in the industry should not act as a barrier, and any stereotypes of the typical PropTech organisation that is full of just men should be dispelled from this blog series alone. Like many women have also mentioned, the organisation you choose will play a large part in what your experience will be like, and that goes for any industry and any job role. I was lucky enough to have my first role in PropTech be with PRODA and for it to be a great experience. To create a shift towards more female leaders in the PropTech industry, we firstly need to increase the number of women in the industry on the whole, and to change these figures, as women, we need to be able to go for the opportunities we want, without any reservations.
Huge thanks to Manisha and the team at Proda.ai for their collaboration throughout the series.