International Women’s Day Series 2023 – Rowena Crowley

How did you get into the position you’re in today? What drew you to property?

I developed a strong interest in property when I was a teenager, I loved looking at houses, still do. I did Residential Property Management for a few years before I moved over to the commercial world. It was in 2007 that I got into asset management which is where my real love of property came from actually.

What is asset management to those who aren’t as familiar with it?

Asset management is taking an asset and looking at the full lifecycle of the building and future planning of it. It involves tracking and monitoring of assets and maximizing a property’s value. Property management traditionally focused on the day to day activities of a property however our team focus on both the day to day running of a building, along with improving long term value for all stakeholders.

What are the core aspects of property management?

Core aspects of property management include protecting our clients’ investments and avoiding stranded assets. A stranded asset is an investment that losses value prior to its anticipated end of life. Sustainability within the building and operation of a building is an essential part of reducing of global emissions, reducing operational costs and protecting value.

Are there any challenges that come with the industry?

The world of property is constantly evolving with new operations, tech and platforms always coming onboard. To stay on top you constantly having to upskill and stay on top of new trends. You really can’t afford to be complacent.

Is work life balance a high priority for you?

Absolutely, I have two gorgeous girls aged ten and eight and it’s really about making sure they’re happy I’m fortunate to get a lot of support which is essential balancing a career and motherhood. My husband and I have a very equal partnership in terms of responsibilities, parenting and supporting each other.
Knight Frank really support work life balance and offer great flexibility.

How has the role of women changed in your industry over the past ten years?

There are a lot of women who are driving change. My previous boss, Claire Solon, Managing Director of Greystar is a great champion for women in property, she was also a past president of the SCSI and she drove an awareness for equal pay within the industry.

It’s interesting from going to the SCSI annual dinner ten years ago versus now…you can see that the ratio increasing. It’s really positive for our industry and a good indicator to see key female professionals at the table.

How can we get more females into the industry?

It’s all about education… I educate my children and friends as to what surveyors do. I think it’s about getting into schools and talking to students before they enter college. The SCSI have a great program encouraging this initiative. They have a few committees running in-house which I’m involved in.

We have a fantastic TY programme here at Knight Frank. Every year we have numerous Transition Year students come in and get a flavour for what we do. They spend time with different departments and get hand’s on experience in that relevant area. I enjoy sitting down and taking the time to explain what we do. It’s a great opportunity to peak interest in property from an early age.

What are three events that helped shape your life?

Hmm, I’d have to say getting married, having children and of course my career!

Who in particular has inspired your career?

I’ve actually been very fortunate to have fantastic mentors, both men and women, throughout my career. Each person has brought different elements to where I am and what I do. I’d like to think that I help bring that to my team.

  • Roger Mansfield was great when I was in Asset Management in F&C – he gave me a passion for asset management.
  • Claire Sole was great for driving women in property and encouraging her team to push themselves in their career.
  • Tony Mooney, my very first boss centred everything to teamwork. He taught me early on that if the team does well, you do well. And that you can’t move forward in your career without the support and collaboration of your peers.

What was your dream job when you were a child?

I always wanted to be detective and solve crime but my mum wouldn’t let me… she thought it was too dangerous! I love watching detective crime shows especially all the BBC dramas.

Finally, what advice would you give to young women who want to succeed in the workplace?

I would tell women to be confident and to push yourself outside of your comfort zone. No matter what role or what industry we’re in, we’re continuously learning. And that doesn’t change as you get more senior.

If you’re applying for a job and you tick 99% of the requirements it’s easy to obsess about the 1% you don’t have experience in. Know your value, have confidence in yourself and go for it!

I think women tend to hold back a little bit more. Be confident. Sometime we have a tendency to say “oh no I could never do that…’ but we can! Believe in yourself.