Property Australia

500 Women in Property thrives in lockdown


It’s been a year of highs and lows for our 500 Women in Property program participants in Victoria. We caught up with some to learn how they’ve stayed connected through challenging times.

The extended lockdown period in Victoria has not stopped 500 Women in Property program participants from finding new ways to combat Zoom fatigue and connect with each other online.

Arabella Richards, centre manager with Dexus, loved the chance to talk with her interstate counterparts through the national coffee roulette initiative.

“In one of the catch-ups I was paired with someone in the ACT. We found that we had real synergies in our current work and spent the hour chatting about city and outdoor activation – a live challenge for our industry at the moment – and she was able to share some of her experiences and contacts,” Richards says, adding that “things would have been even better if we were in the office”.

“Strangely, even though I’ve only been living back in Melbourne since January, several of which have been in lockdown, I feel as though I’ve been able to really develop my network in the virtual world,” Richards says, adding she now thinks differently about networking.

“There is a real authenticity to our interactions, despite not being face-to-face, as we’re sharing a similar lived experience and facing many of the same challenges. It will be great, though, when we can finally meet more in person.”

With face-to-face events disrupted due to restrictions, the Victorian Diversity Committee has turned its attention to a series of digital meet-up sessions for 500 Women in Property participants.

“We encourage participants to block out a small part of their day to take a break over a virtual coffee,” says Rachel Duggan, the committee’s chair and regional general manager with The GPT Group

“The sessions are facilitated by members of the committee, who create a safe environment for participants to discuss both the trials and silver-linings of lockdown.”

“In addition to the relationships that participants have with their sponsors, we know they derive so much benefit from meeting with their peers. We’ve been pleased to learn that participants from the previous years’ programs did not let lockdown get in the way of their regular catch-ups.”

Pragya Gupta, an associate at Gray Puksand and part of the 2019 cohort, has developed a program of creative online activities for her professional network.

“I met a wonderful group of industry peers who I might not have otherwise been exposed to in my day-to-day work,” Gupta explains.

“The breadth of experience from the program cohort allowed me to expand my thinking and grow, both professionally and personally. We committed to catching up this year to continue building the relationships we developed through the program, but COVID derailed our plans.

“Though we haven’t been able to see each other face-to-face, we have pursued some innovative ways to meet online, and are thankful to have the support from our employers and connections in the industry to send goodie packs to attendees at home. Each time we meet, we learn a new creative skill. It’s a great escape from the monotony of regular online meetings and still allows us to connect in a meaningful way.”

In October, for example, the virtual catch up will cover lighting tricks to help people create a better work-from-home experience.

Kathy Mac Dermott, the Property Council’s chief operating officer, is pleased to see the momentum of 500 Women in Property program continue with resources designed to help participants connect in a virtual world, Academy courses and national livestream events.

“It has been terrific to hear that our members are as committed to this initiative as ever, despite the challenges thrown at them by the pandemic,” Mac Dermott says.

“We look forward to bringing this year’s cohort together again in 2021 when it is safe to do so.

“With the support of our national program sponsor, The GPT Group, we are determined to ensure our 500 Women in Property get the best of both on and offline worlds.”

The 500 Women in Property Program has been extended to 2021. If you are a Victorian program participant and would like to join our next Digital Meet-Up, please reach out to Allyse Wafer