International Women’s Day

As someone rightly said, “A challenged world is an alert world and from challenge comes change.” As the world celebrates International Women’s Day on the 8th of March – we at Acumentis celebrate all the women at Acumentis who have chosen to challenge the status quo.

On this special day, we asked some of the hard-working staff at Acumentis the below question, to get a sneak peek into their lives of working as a successful industry professional.

“In an often male dominated industry, how have you chosen to challenge?”

Maria Ergos
Client Services Team Leader – Rockdale, NSW

“For me, there are 4 main mottos that I live by in a male-dominated industry – Hard work, courage and most importantly effective communication and confidence.

We have to focus on increasing the self-confidence of women in the industry. I don’t necessarily challenge the men in this company/industry, but I stay true to the person I am and challenge myself in each role.

Women need to have the courage to step in and take a seat at the table! That’s what I am all about.

In my experience, opportunities rarely arise when you want them to. I believe in having a ‘can do’ attitude and then focus on working out the how.”

“Having commenced my career in the Valuation industry as a young woman as an administration assistant, I realised that this sector of the property industry provided interesting and diverse opportunities.  I chose to challenge myself and decided to obtain the qualifications to become a valuer whilst also working full time. The results that I achieved and the confidence in my abilities during my studies, was underpinned by the support of Acumentis management and my peers.  During this time, I obtained my Advanced Diploma in Property Valuation and Graduate Degree in Property Development. Since becoming a qualified valuer, I have primarily specialised in valuations for Government clients and grown into an Associate Director’s role with Acumentis’ Government Services Division. During my time as a valuer I have been the recipient of a Quality Service Award and Valuer of the Year Award. I am extremely proud of the achievements, along with the support and opportunities the firm offers which continue to develop my professional skills, leading to a wider level of services to our clients.”

Alicia Morris
Associate Director – Rockdale, NSW

Susann Vassallo
Accounts Receivable Officer – Glen Iris, VIC

“Since my earliest job, I have mostly been employed in male-dominated industries. At the start of my working life at the age of 19, it was still noticeable that a woman struggled to become a manager or work in an executive role.

I have been in administration (e. g. reception, PA, EA) for most of my career but later in my life, went into the accounting field. In the 30 years of my working life – both in Europe and Australia, I have seen a change in how men and women work together. The older generation might have not caught up, but most of my generation respects each other.

I have come to realise that when I expand my knowledge and learn from my experiences, I am more confident in my professional and personal life. Being aware of new trends and learning how to use new technologies, helps to stay in the loop.

People should be employed based on their experience and ability to complete the role. Recently there have been more women appointed or promoted to senior roles. These days women can run major companies such as Gina Rinehart taking over from her father.

Personally, I don’t think men and women should compete against each other, but rather work together and embrace each other!

“Would you like to take your husband’s consent before accepting the client’s request for an interstate property inspection?” was one of the questions posed to me as a new intern with a leading multinational property services firm boasting of virtues such as equality and women’s empowerment. The look of concern on their faces showed they genuinely felt the gesture to be ‘supportive’; the possible scowl on mine proved they couldn’t be any more disrespectful! I did however choose to laugh it off and had to convince my bosses time and again over the next few years, (sometimes by working twice as hard as my male counterparts), that I was quite invested in my career.

Five years and an uprooted career later, it was suggested that we start a family since the move to Sydney essentially meant I could not ‘pick up where I left off’, professionally speaking. A Master’s Degree (part-time), a TAFE qualification (part-time) and a 2 year stint as an assistant valuer (full time) got me back on the professional track. I have worked hard, and I feel proud of persevering, not taking the easy way out.

Some clients and agents are surprised when a woman valuer turns up to inspect an Industrial property. “Not many women would like to do this kind of work. It’s great to see a change in their thinking” quipped an older client during an inspection recently. Although delivered with a hint of condescension, there was some truth to the observation that there aren’t a lot of women in this line of work. I am happy to be one of the few who are making a difference, one step at a time. At the moment, like many women, I am simply trying to recover my equilibrium while managing the roles of a successful professional, a loving partner and a hands-on mum all at once! It’s hard, but I #choosetochallenge myself …”

Shweta Sengupta
Senior Valuer – Sydney, NSW

Steph Costi
Valuer – Subiaco, WA

“Having been in the valuation industry since the age of 19, I have only met a handful of female valuers. I take great pride in knowing that I am part of a small but important group of female professionals in this industry. It has been a pleasure to see more and more females studying Property Valuation at university as part of our Valuation Prac program at Acumentis. I believe females have a multitude of skill sets that are continually being brought to the profession. By harnessing our lived experiences, we contribute strongly by utilizing empathetic and person-centred approaches with clients and colleagues. Such approaches greatly contribute to building rapport with clients in the field and assists in building and maintaining our relationships with our colleagues. Throughout my career, I have chosen to challenge by having confidence in my decision making and judgement and I am continually making progress by venturing outside my comfort zone.”

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