Sue Winterbourne, corporate success director at property services firm Leaders Romans Group (LRG), on how she got started in property, her best and worst purchases and her number-one travel destination.
How did you join the property industry?
I started as a trainee negotiator in 1994 at Townsend. I was there until 2004, when I left as an area manager. I then joined Countrywide as an area manager and left in 2014 as a lettings director. I joined Romans in 2014 and went from being an area manager to a lettings director, to my current role as corporate success director.
What does your job entail?
Establishing new corporate clients and ensuring the current clients are happy. Motivating and engaging with staff to help them achieve their aspirations and goals.
What do you like most about the property industry?
Every day is different. The way the industry has changed has kept me interested and challenged.
And what do you dislike most about it?
Although I have been in the industry for 29 years, there is not a lot I dislike about it. It is rare, but I dislike the way some people talk down to others, and I do not like it when our staff have people shouting at them – emotions fly high when you are moving – but that is the same with any job.
What would you change about the property industry?
Government policies that restrict landlords’ legal rights, and the ever-changing regulations that are placed on the industry without listening to industry experts.
What barriers or challenges have you overcome?
When I started in the industry, women and lettings did not get much or any respect – it was very much a boys’ club. You had to work smarter to make the right impact. I have previously been told by a line manager that it was my job to make the coffee as I have small feet and that I only got a deal as I have boobs. I have been overlooked for promotions because of the risk I would get married and have kids. I feel I have overcome all of this.
I became top lettings producer in my first 12 months in my first company and was made a manager within two years. I had my first child in 2004, changed companies to further my career, had a second child and still carried on developing my career. By working hard, I have managed to show my girls that you can achieve goals and aspirations. Also, being dyslexic has not stopped me progressing through the ranks.
What are you most proud of in your career?
Lots of things. The best feeling is when you see someone you have recruited progress and do well in their career, knowing you have supported that person and helped shape their career.
What do you value in people?
Honesty and a good work ethic. Building people up, not down.
What advice would you give someone starting a career in the property industry?
Don’t expect it to be easy. You have to love the industry and working with people.
Something to watch:
I like something that holds my attention or that I can flit in and out of, as I am an all-or-nothing person. The only thing I will not watch – and never did when I had control of the TV remote – is talking animals, such as Babe. I still remember not liking Black Beauty, Lassie or Flipper – those childhood TV shows never sat well with me. Cartoons and Disney I can cope with, though.
Something to listen to:
I like live music in any form, from local bands to major stars. I admire strong female singers like Pink and loved seeing her in Hyde Park this year. She is a good role model for young and old alike, and sends a great message about how you should approach life.
My best purchase:
My best purchase has been my two dogs Piper and Hugo. They are Hungarian Vizslas – my ‘ginger ninjas’ or ‘Velcro dogs’. They are our bundles of fun and give the family lots of joy, making sure we get out and about as they need exercise. But Hugo is the worst, too – he has eaten three sofas. He was a rescue dog and took some time to settle indoors, but we love him dearly.
Top travel destination:
My number-one travel destination would be a cruise around the Bahamas or a Greek island, being waited on by a personal chef and taken around all the different islands, with my family flying out to see us in different locations. Also doing lots of watersports and just chilling on the water. I am a warm-weather person who loves being near the sea.