Stefanie Frawley is the Director of the Portfolio and Transaction Management within the Occupier Services Division at Colliers International, managing several major corporate’s property portfolios. I’ve known Stefanie for more than 10 years, having worked with her at Colliers International many years ago. In this profile, Stefanie discusses the changing face of the property industry for women – for the better!
Did you always want to work in the property industry? No – I originally wanted to be a journalist! I did work experience for a newspaper and hated it. As my part time job in high school was working for a residential firm as a receptionist on a Saturday, I fell into property.
Who has been a mentor to you in your career, and how has that effected where you are today? I have had two very influential mentors. Early in my career, Kelly Allison provided me with the foundations of commercial property knowledge, negotiation skills and providing me with a strong female role model in what was those days a male dominated industry. Peter Evans who I have worked with for 14 years at Colliers International has been instrumental in my career development. He has coached me through the toughest negotiations, provided me with career progression and in more recent years, supported me with flexibility in the workplace when I first became a mother.
What advice would you give to someone starting out in the property industry? Find a great mentor and learn everything you can from them! Learn what your own strengths are, foster those and work on your weaknesses. For those starting out and not knowing what to do, I would recommend looking at any job role within the industry as an opportunity to get your foot in the door. Once you are in the industry, there are so many different opportunities to grow your career – even an entry level admin role can evolve into senior roles through the right career progression.
What do you do to maintain physical and/or mental health? Running after two very energetic toddlers keeps me pretty physically active! When I’m not chasing them around, I enjoy going for a walk and spending time by the beach. I also enjoy time with my husband, parents, family and friends. Whether it’s brunch, dinner, catching up for a drink, weekends away or just a BBQ in the backyard, these are all essential for my mental health.
What do you think are the critical things holding women back in the industry? There are still limited women at senior management level both within agency and on the client side and it would be great to see companies better embrace and provide strong female leadership. There has definitely been an improvement at supporting women in agency roles but we still have some work to do to achieve a better gender balance. Whilst I think we have come a long way in the past few years, supporting part time or flexible work arrangements would keep women in the commercial property industry and continue to provide career progression irrespective of their working arrangements.
The biggest positive change I’ve seen over the last 15 years is more women choosing property as a career.
What positive changes have you seen in the industry over the years? When I first started in commercial property, women in operator roles were a very small minority. I would go to business meetings and of 15 or 20 people, I would sometimes be the only female in the room! This has certainly changed a lot in the last five years, and although we still have a long way to go, it’s looking to be heading in the right direction.
How did you get to where you are today? Have you had a diversified career path? Whilst working in a residential agency at the end of secondary school, with the encouragement of my boss at the time, I chose to commence studies in the property degree at RMIT. After I started the degree I heard about the corporate/occupier services business during a lecture and decided that was what really interested me. So when an opportunity came up at Colliers International in that very division, I jumped at the chance. Before working at Colliers International and during my university years, I worked at a residential agency and then as an assistant property manager in a mid-sized commercial agency where I was exposed to residential, commercial and retail property management.
Who has influenced you in your career? Working together with a team of three very strong successful women, Amanda Falahey, Kelly Allison and Maryanne Loving, for almost 10 years has been the biggest influence on my career. Together we forged a strong team and pushed each other to excel. My mentor Peter Evans has been hugely influential, pushing me out of my comfort zone and fostering career progression.
What do the WIP Network events mean to you? Whether it is a networking lunch or part of the ‘Speaker Series’, the WIP Network presents a great opportunity to meet and connect with other women from diverse property backgrounds.
Where do you see women in the property industry in the future? With changes already taking place, I believe that we will see more women in senior roles and greater gender equality in some of the traditionally male dominated divisions such as commercial sales and leasing.