Savannah de Savary, founder and chief executive of Built-ID, talks to Property Week about her time in the property industry and shares her cultural recommendations.

Savannah de Savary

Savannah de Savary

How did you join the property industry?

I moved to New York after university and initially struggled to break into the property industry, armed as I was with nothing more than a humanities degree and enthusiasm. So, I undertook a real estate intensive at the NYU Schack Institute of Real Estate, where I had the great fortune of being taught by a professor who had been one of the few female leaders within Manhattan’s real estate development sector. She was both inspiring and supportive beyond compare and, with the help of her guidance and introductions to other female mentors, I joined the property industry.

What does your job entail?

I am the founder and CEO of a social impact software company that focuses on digital community engagement. My primary focus is to lead our development of cutting-edge technology products that exponentially increase constructive community participation in built environment projects. Alongside business strategy, a key part of my job is creating an inclusive environment where our talented and diverse team thrive.

What do you like most about the property industry?

The property industry has the potential to positively impact communities on so many levels. It is where we live, learn, work and play. As an industry, we not only have the opportunity to create meaningful and long-lasting community impact across our country, but an obligation to do so for the benefit of future generations.

And what do you dislike most about it?

Although we have made significant progress in the last decade, we still have a long way to go in terms of truly addressing ESG, with some still viewing it as a box-ticking exercise. Transformational change from an environmental and social perspective needs to be driven by an authentic desire to do so – that is when the most impactful results will be achieved for communities and the property industry.

What would you change about the property industry?

If we are honest with ourselves for a moment, the lack of diversity is still an issue. Our industry should be a reflection of the communities it serves, but we have been slow to embrace change compared with other sectors. Progress has been made, and there are some truly inspirational figures from diverse backgrounds shaping the future of the property industry; but we can and should do more to embrace the wonderful diversity of our society, creating a more inclusive sector that anyone and everyone feels they have the opportunity to participate in.

What barriers or challenges have you overcome?

I am sure I am not alone when I say this, but a persistent challenge for me is ignoring imposter syndrome. When I experience this though, I have learnt to reflect on how far I have come to establish myself in the industry and recognise that I – like many other females in this industry – have made a material impact. Have confidence in your vision and purpose, and others will soon get behind you.

What are you most proud of in your career?

I am proud of the tangible social impact we have generated for our clients and communities alike. Since 2019, more than one million community ideas have been shared on our digital platform. To see so many people engaging with our technology is remarkable, and is evidence of the nationwide desire of communities to elevate their voices around projects that impact them.

What do you value in people?

Honesty and integrity are values I respect in people. And, as life can be rather serious at times, a healthy dose of humour can go a long way with me.

What advice would you give someone starting a career in the property industry?

Do not be afraid to admit you are still learning – candid conversations are always the most valuable. Also, do not hesitate to reach out to industry players who inspire you for advice and mentorship – you would be surprised how many people might be willing to help you.