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edition 3 (198)
March 2015
Human resources

Sisters are doing it – but together

A real estate association is born for the fairer sex

EWA ANDRZEJEWSKA

Sisters are doing it – but together

A truce between women is called friendship. True or false? Those working in the property sector, who have just established the Association of Women in Real Estate in Poland (WIREP), would certainly deny this! They actually do seem to like and support each other

Ewa Andrzejewska, ‘Eurobuild Central & Eastern Europe’: Is the Association of Women in Real Estate already up and running?

Renate Kremer: The association is already operating, but informally. On December 3rd last year, all the necessary documentation was submitted, and this was additionally supplemented at the beginning of January. Unfortunately, I do not have any specific information about when it will be formally registered. We are waiting to be entered on the National Court Register [KRS], because without this we cannot draw up the membership forms without it, we can’t organise formal events or sign sponsorship contracts, and so on. I hope that we will manage to get everything sorted very soon.

But the key question is, what was the association established for?

Katarzyna Jasińska: The forming of this association is a natural consequence of the changing position of women in business as well as their thinking about their work. Instead of mainly relying on themselves as has been the case so far, or trying to extend their knowledge and competences independently, they are maturing to integrate and form communities, the want to support each other and share their experience. Men often consult with their colleagues or co-workers about their ideas or even decisions. But women are more inclined to fight the corner independently. I think that the key idea lying behind the association is support. And this is not because women do not support each other. On the contrary, but only when they are asked for it or when someone offers them help. They are reluctant to talk about their needs or problems on their own initiative as they consider it to be a sign of weakness. Admittedly, we are not paving the way in this respect. But we are the first organisation to bring together specialists from the real estate industry.

Ewa Brzozowska: I think this is an initiative that was born partly due to the condition of the sector and the economic situation we are currently in. At the moment people are looking for support and also for alternative solutions to various issues. In my view, joint activities could be the driving force to achieve this.

Renate Kremer: I came here from Munich, where such an association is already thriving. When I settled in in Poland I started to look for similar initiatives. Women basically operate differently from men – in their private life but also in their professional life, and so the platform is intended as an initiative for strengthening their sense of self-worth. It is also meant to support education by making available practical information from people who have worked in the sector, people who have made a career. We, that is, the management board, have only set the direction for the future development of this initiative, and the rest depends on the involvement of individual members.

How was the composition of the management board decided upon? Just a few months ago some of you did not know each other...

Sylwia Müller: Renate was the initiator of everything and she acts as a kind of liaison. She contacted us and also other women. Then there were a few meetings, including the founding meeting, which was attended by 21 women, and the management board was chosen at the meeting in a vote.

What are the first few steps that the organisation is taking?

Agnieszka Ciupak: We have already created the entire base: the regulations, the documentation, the logo and the website, which should come online on March 1st. Furthermore, the group can be found on Facebook (27 people) and LinkedIn (49 people). There has also been meeting with the German equivalent of the organisation.

Renate Kremer: The German association has already been operating for ten years and we want to learn as much as we can from them. Once a year they organise foreign excursions, this year their plan was to go to Prague but now they have changed it to Warsaw. So on April 24th–26th there will be a meeting in Warsaw. It will probably be attended by 25 people. On the first day there will be the opening and a lecture on the Polish property market as well as a presentation about the people in the association and networking. On the second day we want to introduce them to the key properties in Warsaw: residential, hotel, office and retail facilities. There will be a party in the evening. Interestingly, the news about the establishment of our association has now gone around the world and an equivalent association in the UK has also become interested.

Who can become a member?

Sylwia Müller: Women from the real estate and construction sectors. We are also open to lawyers and bookkeepers connected with this market. The initiative has generated a great deal of interest in the real estate agency field. A new member has to be recommended by two other members of the association.

Renate Kremer: You also need to become familiar with the statute, our code of conduct. Besides, the person should contribute some positive energy. The work done by the management board is voluntary.

What do you think the association will look like in a few months or a year’s time?

Renate Kremer: Around 20–30 pct of all the members are usually active. We were wondering how many women there actually are in the sector and how many would like to come together in such a group. I think that around 100 people in a year’s time is a likely figure. It is worth mentioning that we already have regional branches because we also want to be active outside the capital city. In a year or two we want to be an opinion-forming body, which will cooperate with other associations. We want to help set market standards in such fields as property management or sustainable development. In the future it could also be a great place when it comes to the job and talent hunting. I repeat: we are just setting the general direction right now, the rest depends on the market situation or the response we receive.

Katarzyna Jasińska: I think that the evolution of the association into a platform that supports entrepreneurial women who are starting their adventure with the real estate sector, and which will facilitate building professional relationships and finding your place on the market, is an interesting idea. I am saying this as a relatively new person to the sector who is eager to draw on the experience of the people who have been working in the sector for many years.

Agnieszka Ciupak: Based on the response we have received after our initial activities, I can now see how great the need was for setting up such a platform. ν

Women empowered: Who is behind wirep?

Ewa Brzozowska, vice-president

A vice-president of the board of Egis Poland and Egis Polska Inżynieria. She has over twenty years of experience in senior management positions in finance, engineering, business development and operations. Before starting her career in Poland, she worked for legal advisors in Paris.

Renate Kremer, president

A business development manager at Conject in its Polish office, located in Warsaw. The initiator and a founding member of WIREP. She has worked for over 18 years in senior and leading positions in design, project management, commercial development and real estate consulting.

Sylwia Müller, member of the board

A vice-president of International Facility Management Association (IFMA) Polska Chapter with twenty years of professional experience in sales, procurement and facility management. She will support the development of WIREP in such areas as sponsorship, event organisation and the exchange of experiences with other associations through her wide professional network.

Agnieszka Ciupak, board member

Since July 2014 she has been heading office leasing at Griffin Real Estate. Agnieszka has been employed in the real estate sector since 1998 and has an extensive experience in managing leasing projects across Poland. She has also worked for Globe Trade Centre and UBM Poland. A trained economist, she graduated from the Warsaw School of Economics, Prywatna Wyższa Szkoła Biznesu i Administracji in Warsaw and the Silesian University in Katowice.

Katarzyna Jasińska, vice-president

The country manager at Bene Warszawa, where she is responsible for the business development and reputation building. She has 15 years of professional sales and marketing experience. A graduate of the University of Economics in Katowice, she also holds a postgraduate diploma in management from the Warsaw School of Economics.

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