Sara Bailey, head of real estate and incoming senior partner at Trowers & Hamlins, on how she got started in the property industry, her proudest career achievement and her cultural recommendations.
What do you value in people?
Honesty, integrity and a sense of fun.
What do you like most about yourself?
My positive outlook. I believe that there is usually a solution to most issues and during more challenging times, I try to stay focused on achieving a positive outcome.
What does your job entail?
I have recently been elected senior partner of my firm, where I am involved in setting strategy, managing the partnership and growing the profile of the firm. I am also head of real estate, where I advise on a broad range of high-profile public and private regeneration projects, partnerships and joint ventures.
How did you join the property industry?
I started as an articled clerk in 1990 and joined the property world through a new-found love for property deals. When the chance came to qualify and work for then head of property Jonathan Adlington, who had an eclectic practice, I took it with both hands. It was a great introduction to the property world and I was always inspired by the societal, cultural and environmental aspects of the built environment.
What do you like most about the property industry?
Its can-do attitude and ability to adapt through challenging times – the fact that through the sector, there is the ability to change people’s lives for the better. The built environment is the backbone of society and I am particularly driven by the positive impact it can have on people and places.
And what do you dislike most about it?
The lack of diversity. The sector is working hard to address this, but there is still more work to be done. And I mean diversity in many senses – what I would call ‘true diversity’: diversity of age, culture, and importantly voice. It is a bit like turning a tanker, but I am determined to play my part.
What barriers or challenges have you overcome?
In the early days, the property world was challenging. At times, I was the only woman in the room. Things are definitely changing for the better now, but I remember my first Mipim was a sea of men in suits; I certainly stood out in my orange dress!
What are you most proud of in your career?
Playing my part in building the real estate practice at Trowers to what it is today and helping others from different backgrounds – men and women – to feel empowered enough to grow and be successful in this sector.
What advice would you give someone starting a career in the property industry?
Don’t be shy – be confident and enjoy it.
What do you want to change about the property industry?
Real estate has a huge part to play in shaping our future. My vision for the sector is one that fully embraces inclusivity and equality and one that has a positive impact on society. This needs to become a fact not an aspiration.