Raina Lodhia is one of two co-founders of Form Creative, an Interior Architecture and Workplace Strategy consultancy. She has worked across a variety of aspects of the property industry over the years, and here she shares with us her thoughts on the changes ahead.
Did you always want to work in the property industry? No, I wanted to be an IT nerd! I am nostalgic about the 90’s; MS DOS, gaming and the simplicity of the IT landscape at the time. I would even volunteer to go to people’s houses to set up their PCs.
However, an interview with a specialist recruiter in property led to an offer with them in a customer facing role, and this led to series of opportunities within the industry. Property is a dynamic, high energy industry and I thrived on this.
Who has been a mentor to you in your career, and how has that effected where you are today? If I was to single out one person, it would be David Castro, who taught me not to rely only on conventional wisdom. He taught me that the best and most innovative solutions draw on disparate sources and to always think ‘big picture’.
Having said this, being in the property industry exposes me to so many interesting people from whom I have gleaned so much. The property industry is, at its best, a living breathing networking organism, and there is so much value to be taken from random interactions.
What advice would you give to someone starting out in the property industry? To mis-quote Victor Papanek, the only important thing about property is how it relates to people. At Form Creative, we always bring it back to how does this workplace serve the needs of the people who occupy the space. Don’t just listen to the person writing the cheques. Any individual associated with your project or company, at any level, can contribute to your expertise.
In this industry, in particular, it can be difficult to schedule down time. Liana and I allocate time to ourselves to rejuvenate weekly in various ways including being pampered at a day spa or even lifting heavy weights.
What do you think are the critical things holding women back in the industry? I don’t believe there are structural things about the industry that hold women back. Having said this, the hours are long, the post-work social obligations can be numerous for some sectors, but this applies equally to men and women. So, be realistic about the work-life balance you want to achieve and pursue roles that align with that.
What positive changes have you seen in the industry over the years? What I love about the younger generation of women coming into the industry is that they fundamentally believe and expect complete gender equality.
How did you get to where you are today? Have you had a diversified career path? Yes, absolutely. A broad range of professional experiences has fostered the ability to relate to a broad range of people across diverse environments.
Who has influenced you in your career? Stefanie Frawley, who first encouraged me to transition from an administration role into a portfolio management role at Colliers International. I am always inspired by Amal Clooney and Sunita Williams (space-nerd alert!).
What do the WIP Network events mean to you? As previously mentioned, property is networking! It is great to have a forum within which to connect with other women in the industry, to share knowledge and contacts, trade war stories and get the inside track on current market conditions. One of our key projects to date came via a lead from a WIP event!
Where do you see women in the property industry in the future? Everywhere!