Joanna Barraclough, divisional director, south, at Countrywide, on how she got started in property, her top album and podcast picks, the celebrity she’d most like to meet and her number-one travel destination.
How did you join the property industry?
I used to play table tennis professionally, representing England up to the age of 19, which provided an excellent foundation to be personable, hard-working and able to handle the peaks and troughs of a sales environment. My first role in property was as an administrator in a regional estate agency branch. From there, I worked from the ground up before diversifying into new-home sales management.
What does your job entail?
I oversee Countrywide’s new-homes teams across the south of the UK, ensuring we deliver the best service possible to our developer clients.
I act as an extension to the regional teams, advising clients on development mix; pricing and bespoke sales; and marketing strategies. I also work closely with some of our largest national clients, winning new business and supporting our colleagues on the ground to bring out the best in their performance.
What do you like most about the property industry?
It is fast-paced and demanding. If you work hard, it can offer a career that is both diverse and rewarding. My love of meeting new people has served me well and there are ample opportunities to network, travel and not be stuck behind my desk.
And what do you dislike most about it?
The negative side of a fast and fluid industry is having to learn to go with the flow more, adapting to change quickly and accepting that plans may change at a moment’s notice. A customer and client will always take precedence and, while being organised is key, sometimes it is all hands on deck on completion day.
What would you change about the property industry?
The lack of capacity in most local authorities, which causes delays on planning. Our industry needs to be more dynamic at the front end, so that buyers have more choice and prices are not driven up by lack of supply.
What barriers or challenges have you overcome?
Adapting to different markets, pricing structures and buyer demographics across a large geographical area.
While the market is clearly different from Penzance to Dover, the process almost always remains the same. By focusing on the process, the results look after themselves.
What are you most proud of in your career?
I have been heavily involved in launching Abbey Place, a substantial scheme of 173 shared ownership units in Greenwich, where we sold the entire first phase in under a month. We have an incredible and dedicated shared ownership team and I am immensely proud that, at a time when house prices are at an all-time high, we are still enabling buyers to take that first step on to the property ladder.
What advice would you give someone starting a career in the property industry?
Listen actively to deliver the best possible customer and client journey; spend time learning from experienced colleagues; and network. People buy from people and these contacts are invaluable.