The Property Council sat down with
Marija Starvic, Lawyer at Allens to discuss her experience in Property Council’s 500 Women in Property Program over the COVID-19 pandemic period. 

Hi Elysia, you have been involved with the Property Council’s 500 Women in Property Program over the COVID-19 pandemic period. Could you please tell me about your experience over this time?

My overall experience participating in the program has been a positive one. Initially I expected that the program would be placed on hold, but I was pleasantly surprised that the Property Council were proactive and utilised technology to keep the program going. It was a lesson in thinking on your feet and not letting circumstances affect the end goal of progressing the career development of 500 women.

It also showed how committed the Property Council is investing in women in the industry. My highlight is the coffee roulette chat sessions. I was able to network and really get to know the participants I was matched with and talking about COVID-19 was a great initial icebreaker. 

COVID-19 has resulted in Property Council shifting the 500 Women in Property program to be delivered fully online. Can you tell me how you found the digital program offerings, and how it helped you throughout this period?

The digital offerings were a great alternative. I enjoyed the webinar sessions and panel discussions which I thought were insightful and very relevant. I particularly enjoyed the "Polish your Presentation" course. The course was interactive, and it was great to hear from and interact with multiple participants at the same time. I have implemented many of the skills we talked about as they were highly relevant especially now that Teams Meetings are standard. 

Communication and connecting with colleagues, friends and family has never been more important. Can you tell me how you stayed connected to your sponsor? How have you connected with other participants? And were there any new and/or different ways you chose to communicate? 

I had dedicated meetings with my sponsor and other colleagues who are also participating in the program. We discussed and reflected on the webinars, coffee roulette sessions as well as well as brainstorming ideas as to how we could keep connecting throughout the program. Video Teams Meetings, emails and LinkedIn were invaluable to create and maintain connections. 

What would you say are your biggest lessons/take away from the program so far? Have you implemented any of the advice you received from your sponsor/coffee roulette match, or something you learnt from the property council academy courses?

My one-on-one networking skills have progressed, and I am more aware of my presentation skills online and how I come across in the online sphere. The biggest lesson I have learnt is that developing a career is not linear and that creating opportunities and taking advantage of what is on offer is key.  

For other women in the industry, is the program something you would recommend as part of their own development? 

Yes, I would recommend the program. Connecting with like-minded and career focussed women and hearing their stories is invaluable for career development. The importance of connection in the wider property industry community was also relevant and learning about other roles within property was useful. 

500 Women in Property is an initiative of the Property Council’s Diversity Committees throughout Australia and is a sponsorship program. It involves a personal commitment from Property Council Members (women and men) to identify and champion women in their organisation or business sphere, who they believe would benefit from further networking and professional development opportunities.

For more information on Property Council’s 500 Women in Property Program please visit our website or contact our National Diversity Programs Manager, Chloe Philp at 500womeninproperty@propertycouncil.com.au