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Celebrating our Leading Ladies

By Catherine Rayward

THIS International Women’s Day, we are shining a light on a few of the women that make Ray White great. Not only are they outstanding real estate agents and business owners but also inspirational women who live this year’s IWD theme ‘Cracking the code’ everyday. While innovation has the power to transform lives, we know that there are still many barriers to equality. Access to inclusive digital technologies and education is critical. We sat down to talk about their real estate careers, the many hats they wear and what advice they would give to women starting out in the industry.

Sonya Treloar, Ray White Bridgeman Downs

My advice would be, don’t let anyone tell you that you are not good enough to succeed in this industry, believe in yourself and get a good mentor who shares your values. Let real estate be your career, not what defines you.

Vicki Pain, Ray White Rural Dayboro | Eumundi

A friend noticed an ad in The Courier Mail about Ray White recruiting, he said I should look into it and 17 years later I am still here and now have two offices. Knowing what I know now, I would tell women thinking of joining the industry to just do it. If you have spent your life raising children and navigating life with your partner then you have every skill in negotiating you will ever need.

Angela Duncan, Ray White Aspley

My advice is never apologise for being a powerful freaking woman. It’s such an amazing advantage to work with clients, juggle our crazy lifestyles and a huge strength that I believe most women can be both tough negotiators as well as calm and empathetic for all clients.

Cristine Jones, Ray White Ferntree Gully

There are very few Aussie racing tracks I haven’t taken on in her 1927 Austin Supercharged Racer. Before I started in real estate 20 years ago, I was a mechanic and race care driver.

What I learned from being in a male dominated industry is to never doubt what you are capable of, just give it a go!

Fiona Conde, Ray White West End

My advice for up and coming women in the industry is that it’s not as glamorous as you think, it’s going to be lots of hard work and agents are really just glorified telemarketers in a cute outfit. But you have to be willing to put in the work to succeed.

Aimee Carding, Ray White Sherwood | Ray White Graceville

I tell women starting in the industry to never be ashamed of asking for help. You can achieve anything and it is important to remember your goals are just as important – so make time for these and set up a support network to help you be able to achieve what you want.

Vivien Yap, Ray White Dalkeith | Claremont

I started in real estate after a long and successful career as a pharmacist. There’s no end point to how much you can grow. I think a lot of people think they have to draw a line in the sand. Don’t give yourself a goal that you can’t completely smash, so break your goals down to bite sized goals but never lose sight of your dream. Make yourself available to do everything you can possible to make it happen. If you want to do 25 or 50 more sales, don’t just talk about it, implement it as there are no shortcuts in life.

Wendy Samrani, Ray White Caringbah

I started my real estate career straight after school in 1992 when I was 18, I got stuck into my real estate licensing course and Diploma in Business Valuations, studying part time while I gained experience in full time real estate as a mail clerk and receptionist with a big commercial/residential firm. The best advice I have ever received is to treat your clients with respect, treat them the way you would like to be treated, present their property the way you would your very own, work hard, be transparent, enjoy kicking goals and reap the rewards – (this golden advice was given to me by my father).

Sarah Bower, Ray White Norwood

I started in real estate as a residential property valuer 15 years ago – mainly conducting mortgage refinance valuation for banks. I moved into sales five years ago and also became an accredited and practising auctioneer around three years ago. I now sit on the board of The Society of Auctioneers and Appraisers (SA) Inc. My advice is to stick in there!

Margaret Black AM, Ray White Rural Atherton

In my spare time I love to travel and I have a trip to Europe planned this year. I love spending time with my family and my grandchildren bring me great joy. I do devote a lot of time to volunteer work and because of this I was honoured to be awarded a member of the Order of Australia. I am currently a director on the Carinya Home for the Aged board.

Ruby Rozental , Ray White Commercial Western Sydney

Prior to joining the Ray White network I was a property/M&A lawyer for around 17 years. The opportunity to join Ray White arose just after our second child was born, as my husband Peter Vines was growing restless in his role with a big corporation and I was wondering how to resurrect my client list after another stint of maternity leave. Our ‘recipe’ was almost a sure thing – he had a great reputation as a commercial agent in Western Sydney and strong client relationships, and I had the operational and legal skills to manage the business side.

Megan Jaffe , Ray White Remuera

I have a background in healthcare as a registered nurse, and then management and consulting in the private healthcare sector, when I also obtained an MBA. After an experience as a frustrated vendor, I was inspired to pursue real estate as a career. I started Ray White Remuera in 2007. It was always my ambition to be a business owner. After working as a salesperson within other brands, I found alignment with Ray White as the brand I wanted to begin the business ownership journey with.

Catherina Khouzami, Ray White Liverpool

Real estate was something I stumbled upon. I was at uni studying law and working in IT sales before that.  My mum was doing a bit of real estate work and I went to help her with a couple open homes and I loved it. My advice is simple but there’s actually a lot of depth to it. Always be looking for a seller and one of the best ways that I can do that is great customer service. Referrals are my best way to get new business. I’m always up for a chat, no matter who I meet.

Vivian Li, Ray White Wantirna

I was actually a science teacher and moved to Australia to study accounting and finance.

I accidentally fell into the industry, when I started a part time job in a real estate office while studying. My boss saw the way that I was interacting with clients and really encouraged me to get into sales. Being a perfectionist, it can be hard to give control over. Some of us can be very detail oriented, but we are all human and sometimes we need to let go of some control. I now have embraced a wonderful team and we learn from each other.

Jody Fewster, Ray White Cottesloe | Mosman Park

I had a successful career founding a Management Consulting firm in Sydney, servicing the senior executives of some of Australia’s largest corporations, before real estate. I hold a Bachelor of Commerce and an MBA from Harvard Business School. I founded my Ray White business with my business partner Deborah Brady in 2018. I credit my success, among other things, to the training I received at Harvard. Being consistent and just doing the basics really well is so important.

Tahlia Gabrielli, Ray White Mt Gambier

The best advice and something that sticks with me all the time in my business and with my team is ‘you can never stop learning.’ The reason I love this line is the minute you think you know it all, you don’t need to go to that conference/ training session or listen to that expert’s advice or read that book is the minute you should really check in and see where you are at and what you are doing in your career and business. There is always something that you can learn, something you can improve on, something you can do better or even a new way to look at a situation. You have to be open minded, stay hungry and be passionate and I feel  it is important in any industry and job role to be on the front foot, to be innovative and to continually grow.

Cindy Cash, Ray White North Richmond

I began in real estate as a receptionist with Ray White Kurrajong 20 years ago. I’m very authentically me. My advice to upcoming agents is to be yourself, don’t be a carbon copy of someone else because you will never succeed. I am also a very determined person. I never give up no matter what and I’m not afraid to ask for support, I’ve got a great team who I trust completely. There’s also no shying away from the work you have to do either. There’s no excuse for not putting in the hard yards to succeed.

Elsie Corby, Ray White Rockingham | Baldivis

When I started there were not many women in real estate, particularly in the top echelon.

However I have learned that real estate is one of those professions where it doesn’t matter who you are; you can be old or young, male or female, and you can still be just as successful as the next person. I think it just comes down to having a good motor and tolerance for stress. My advice to young people starting in the industry would be to make sure that you learn all the systems available and choose a good, well managed franchise to commence your career. Just be pleasant to people, show respect with a high level of communication.

Helen Yan, Ray White Balwyn

I have been in real estate since August 2010.  I love selling and I always go above and beyond for my clients. We truly do have the most supportive network in which agents can thrive and grow. There is no secret to success in real estate, you just must work very hard for your clients.

Leesa Paull, Ray White New Farm

I have been a proud member and administrator at Ray White for over 28 years and the unofficial “Queen of the perfect week”. I started her real estate career working for a high performer going on to mentor other administrators across the Group to become more organised and create better systems. I have always been an advocate for the administrator and am passionate about helping young administrators realise their dreams of building a career in administration. I now work with a wonderful admin team at the Ray White Collective (or New Farm Group) winning the Queensland and International admin team awards last year were highlights of her career, this team is truly the backbone of an even greater business. My favourite quote: Your smile is your logo, your personality is your business card. How you leave others feeling after having an experience with you becomes your trademark.

Anita Martelli, Ray White Rotorua 

In a previous life I was a bank manager for the Bay Savings Bank. I had an interest in real estate from a young age but in my role as bank manager, with the processing of loan applications, I got to see lots of new build applications and it was something I enjoyed. It wasn’t until I was in my 40s and expecting our third child that I decided to get my real estate licence. At the time I was thinking I would go into real estate a few years down the track but the owner of a large franchise company asked me to go and work there. Initially I wasn’t ready, but she persisted so one day I went in “just to see” and I kept going from there. She was a great mentor. My advice to others looking at going into real estate is to think long term. Work hard! Be enthusiastic! Go the extra mile for your clients. Always think about how you can assist each client so that they have the best outcome. Clients know if you are working hard and they appreciate it. Reputation is everything and repeat business will follow. I’m always happy to talk to anyone thinking about a real estate career.

Genevieve Hill, Ray White Patterson Lakes

I have been in real estate for almost 18 years. The best advice I ever received was to treat people the way they like to be treated, don’t take things for granted and be true to yourself. I think what it takes to succeed is don’t wait for things to happen, you have to make it happen. Be consistent.

Chrese Morely, Ray White Ascot

2023 marks 16 years since I started in real estate. I started my career at Ray White Ascot. My mother told me many years ago to choose a work path I was going to enjoy and to work hard to be the best I could be. She said success will always come if you are great at what you do and enjoy it. She was so right. Being a commission only business, the real estate industry can be tricky to navigate. I have found that surrounding myself with like minded people and being a part of a close team of genuinely good human beings has meant that we can provide consistent and quality service for our clients.  It’s the people that are the cornerstone of any success story.

Eleni Notaras , Ray White Commercial Canberra

I’ve been around real estate my whole life as my father was a residential agent when I was a child, who then made the change to commercial real estate during my teenage years. He then opened his own agency where I worked part time while I was completing my tertiary study. I started in residential property management helping in accounts, reporting and anything that was required really. I was out of the industry for some years when I worked in my other profession as a designer and dress maker before returning to commercial real estate as a property manager, again working in the family business part time when my children were small. When they were all at school, I started working full time for the ACT Government in their land release program before transitioning to a full time commercial property management role.

Julie Mahoney, Ray White Julie Mahoney

I have been in real estate for 14 years. The best advice I have ever received was definitely from my dad. This advice was: what does it take to succeed today?

What is takes to succeed today is undoubtedly, process, discipline, and communication, both technically and verbal. Mix this with genuine passion for our industry and top it off with an unrelenting work ethic. Stay true and stay humble!!

Karla Lynch, Ray White New Farm

I was working in hospitality and got sick of working the strange hours. I wanted to work doing some kind of administration job and to do 9-5pm. I ended up working with Ray White New Farm as the receptionist and everything worked up from there.

My advice is to be authentic and be yourself. Learn from people in the industry that are at the top of the game and surround yourself with motivated and positive people.

Emily Scriven, Ray White New Farm

I originally began in 2021, straight out of high school, working on Saturdays at Ray White New Farm. After a year of working in hospitality, I decided that wasn’t for me and took a leap by asking Karla Lynch if she would consider hiring me. I did an interview and got the job and have been working for her for over a year.

When starting in the industry, you have to make sure to keep yourself grounded and take in as much advice and information as possible. The real estate world can be very overwhelming and competitive between people but just focus on learning from people you look up to and apply their teachings to your own methods and develop your own opinions and ways of doing things. Karla has always given me the opportunity to learn through doing, and I believe that is the best way. From being on the phones, to doing open homes and liaising with buyers and vendors, I have been able to establish my own set of unique skills and learn how to deal with a diverse range of situations. Your skills will come with time as long as you back yourself and the person you work for and you have a strong work/team relationship.

Vanessa Golightly, Ray White Papanui

I started my real estate career by accident really – when I completed my business degree I took an office job and it just so happened to be on the reception desk of a local real estate company! The rest is history and 17 years later I am now a business owner. My advice for anyone just starting their career is to make sure you have the ability to float yourself financially for 12 months and start in a successful team, it is hands down going to give you the best springboard in your career versus trying to start out alone.From a practical angle, trust the process and follow it with every listing and sale, don’t take shortcuts. Don’t ever speak on behalf of your vendors, always present interest to them and let them talk first. Robust vendor communication is key, you can’t have too much. Don’t turn the buyers and sellers against each other in negotiations, it won’t help. Instead express the gratitude from each side for their interest, their offer and their participation in the negotiations and so on. It’s a profession where the harder you work the more you can earn and there aren’t too many careers you can say that about so enjoy the ride and remember it’s worth the effort.

Jessica Cao, Ray White Upper North Shore

After an international career in sales, based in Shanghai, I began in real estate 10 years ago.

The best advice I’ve ever received was the more “no”s you get, the closer the next “yes” is.

Judi O’Dea, Ray White Paddington

At age 48 after finishing my career in fashion retail, I found myself alone at home, with my kids going to school and my husband going to work and thought what am I going to do? I didn’t want to waste my talents.

One of my favourite things is an open home. I run them very professionally and when people come in I ask certain questions of them so I can create a platform for further conversation. I am always mindful of building relationships because that’s the foundation of our business.

Marina Gear, Ray White Inner West Group

What I’ve learned in my eight years in the industry is the two things in life you are totally in control over are your attitude and your effort.

Kim Olsen, Ray White Kim Olsen Property 

I celebrated 10 years in real estate last year, and moved across to Ray White on my anniversary!

Be authentic to yourself, and to those around you.  Don’t wear different hats, be the same person in business as who you are in your personal life.

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