For International Women’s Day 2022, we spoke with some of the inspiring women across British Land neighbourhoods to talk equality, proud moments and what advice they’d give to their younger selves.
Kenneila Quashie is property manager at Broadgate so we asked her about sky-diving, how she celebrates International Women’s Day and the women who inspire her.
Tell us about yourself
I’m Kenneila Quashie, Property Manager for British Land, Broadgate. I have been with British Land coming up to five years. Currently, I look after 2 & 3 Finsbury Avenue.
What is your proudest moment?
I am most proud of myself for embarking on solo travelling in 2018. I made a list of things I wanted to do and went and did them; sky-diving, bungee jumping, discovering communities new to me. I realised the power of being independent and self-sufficient.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I wish I was kinder to myself. I would tell my younger self that it’s not the end of the world if you fail. I would say not to worry and although it feels like a big deal now, it really isn’t. I got good academic grades, but I wanted better! I was kind to others – just not myself.
Tell us something that not many people know about you?
Everyone knows I love karaoke! I also like to write poetry and have performed live once. I like to express my thoughts through words and started writing a book, I managed about 10 pages and have since stopped, one day maybe I’ll finish that.
Is there a woman now or in history, that has inspired you?
My mother. I had a strict upbringing; my mother can be the toughest of humans but also the softest. All the determination and dedication you see in me, comes from my mum. I’ve seen how she copes in struggles and challenges, nothing fazes her, but also how she is when she is at her best. I’ve always said, ‘I want to be like mum when I grow up’.
What has the global pandemic taught you about yourself?
How valuable family is. Before the pandemic I spent a lot of time with friends and then I bubbled up with my family and have discovered how much I like hanging out with them. Now that we are no longer in bubbles, I look forward to spending time with my younger siblings. The pandemic also taught me to appreciate a healthy work-life balance and the importance of switching off.
What is your view on equality of the sexes?
Obviously, I believe women are the better sexes! There have been improvements over the years, for example maternity leave is better in some sectors than others. We still have a long way to go, especially in the property industry where there is still only a handful of women in senior positions. I hope there is more opportunity for women to be taken seriously in this sector. For instance, if there are women who are vocal, let them be, let’s break down the stereotype that women have to behave in a certain way to hold senior positions. And of course, we have a way to go with regards to equal pay.
How do you celebrate IWD?
Go to work, do our thing! One of my biggest passions is helping young people, those that come after me to make sure they feel they can do things and one of the ways I can do this is by mentoring, talking about my journey, acknowledging how far we have come and relish all the opportunities that are out there.
What does IWD mean to you?
Empowering each other, celebrating our accomplishments, highlighting the positives of being a woman in the workplace. Unfortunately, we are still having conversations about how far we’ve still got to go. There’s so much more work to be done in acknowledging the intersectionality of women and how sometimes we may have progressed in one area for some women, there are different battles for different women, for example some women may face greater challenges and barriers because of their age or ethnicity too.
What does it mean for you to be a woman working in real estate/property industry?
Initially, I thought it was going to be hard going into ‘the big boys club’. I was quite timid when I first started, I didn’t want to be seen as the ‘angry black women’ and then I realised I can’t progress if I don’t say what I want, to learn and do. People are going to have their opinions and stereotype regardless of who you are.
Now we have a more diverse group of women in management positions, which wasn’t the case when I started out. I always try and put my hand up and take on additional responsibilities where I can. I struggled with being one of the youngest members of the team in my earlier years. I felt a huge sense of responsibility being an ethnic minority, and a woman, like I can’t mess up. Some of my colleagues who work for our service partners would tell me ‘You’re doing it for us’. Over time I have learned that it’s not only my responsibility to be a role model but that I have a responsibility to myself and my wellbeing too.
Every role I’ve taken on has started at the deep end and I love it. I like a challenge, I love being exposed to so many versatile sectors of the property industry such as retail, leasing, marketing. Every day is different, I could be having a quiet day or a ‘everything is falling apart day’ it’s about maintaining the calm. It’s only when I talk to people about my role, I reflect that I do a lot and I do it well.
When I go and talk to school children and young people and see the pressure, they put on themselves to know what they want to be – I feel confident to tell them that its ok not to have all the answers already, and that the biggest learning I have done is that failing helps you grow.
I also like applying technical knowledge, I am a nerd, I don’t want to stop learning. I am always looking at what the next course might be, what more could I be learning.