March 16, 2020

Thank you Canberra Weekly for page 22 of this week’s edition celebrating IWD 2020:

Growing up in Queensland in the 1960s, there was nothing strange when the Year 10 careers night at my all-girls school offered six options: secretary, nurse, teacher, cook, nun and nanny. University was for the “very smart ones” – code for “not me”.

I took a jump in 1984: a bank manager told 22-year-old me I didn’t need to buy an apartment until I found a husband … so Mum went guarantor.

I took a jump in 1985: I was the first female at Brisbane City Council to cross over from the secretarial stream to the almost exclusively male clerical stream.

I took a jump in 1987: leaving local government after nine years, and again in 1989: leaving Brisbane for Canberra, marriage and children.

I took a jump in 1992: into the public service doing overseas aid projects, human resources and refugee work.

I took a jump in 2008: I left the security of a 16-year federal government career at 46. I always loved real estate, reading the Saturday real estate section like a form guide. I found a career that wasn’t academic, it was intuitive – it didn’t rely on formal education; it was relationship-based.

I took a jump in 2011: despite the end of a marriage and a forecast that said I would always be renting, I continued to build on my successes.

I took a jump in 2018: putting together all my knowledge of community organisations and social enterprises to develop a new model and opened my business: what I believe is Australia’s only social impact model of a  real estate agency.

I’m the only agency (other than community housing or publicly listed real estate companies) revealing my profits every year and giving 10% of those profits to local homelessness initiatives, in partnership with Hands Across Canberra. Separately, $400 of each DHA investment sale goes to Soldier On.

Decades have changed everything – and today my daughter is never told there are only six “boxes” to fit into and bank managers don’t tell her to “find a husband”.

So, to all the females out there: jump! Even if it immobilises you with fear, back yourself. Nothing is impossible now for me or my daughter. It took me until I was 49 to believe in myself and to learn that men in suits aren’t always right … and I’ve still got a few decades left in me!


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