8 March 2019
Spain ranked 28th in the Women in Work Index according to this year’s PwC study. Out of the 34 OECD country members that work together to promote economic growth, prosperity and sustainable development, Spain ranked the same place as last year and made an improvement on female economic empowerment, along most of the member countries.
At Sotheby’s International Realty, especially in Spain, men and women have equal chances of growing their career towards a leading position. Alejandra Vanoli, Managing Director of VIVA Sotheby’s International Realty group, leads a team of around 25 people across the Balearic Islands and Madrid, and the group is expanding fast - it will be opening various Sotheby’s International Realty offices across the mainland this year, such as in Valencia and Bilbao. Barbara Caprara, Office Director of Ibiza Sotheby’s International Realty, leads the local team in Ibiza and has worked for 15 years in the real estate sector on the island, knowing the market and her clients inside out. We are having a conversation with both of them.
Having many years of experience in a leading role, you probably have seen how different gender ratios influence the workplace. Does gender balance play an important role for a healthy workplace and if so, to what extent?
I don’t believe that gender difference strictly leads to labour issues but I do know that women at the workplace understand different situations and handle them with more flexibility. This particularly influences the vibe in the workplace.
How does the company benefit from having (leading) women in the workplace? What is the women’s strength?
Without a doubt, the ability to multitask and resolve conflicts. The general vision of the team and ability to promote and boost its productivity, thanks to a greater capacity for empathy and understanding the business scope.
Do women have any extra obstacles to overcome in the real estate sector, compared to other sectors? What are these obstacles and how can they be overcome?
Obstacles can be common in different industries, for example achieving and maintaining a healthy work-life balance. In executive positions, being accepted and recognised as a leader may still be difficult since the presence of women in management positions has in some places not been completely accepted.
What would you recommend to any other women who wish to make a professional career in the real estate industry?
Perseverance, honesty and passion for work. And it's very important to develop an attitude that promotes team work in order to reach a common goal and grow personally and professionally.
Which woman do you personally admire the most?
Peggy Guggenheim in the world of art, Victoria Ocampo in literature and, without a doubt my mother who taught me by example to value independence and freedom, as well as devotion to the family.
How do women influence decision-making in the buying process?
Within our profession, we all know that women have a great influence when making the decision of buying a property. In my opinion, it's due to the fact that women tend to pay attention to every detail, when it comes to buying anything and especially they are very practical. So, no doubt every final decision has to have an approval and if there isn't one, you can be sure that there won’t be a deal.
Do women typically point out different things than men when searching homes? What do they pay attention to, different from men?
Women tend to pay more attention to the practical details and functionality, so they often ask for effective distribution of living areas, with special attention to good visibility of outdoor area, swimming pool, garden to be able to have everything under control inside and outside at the same time. Apart from this, a large wardrobe space to store shoes and bags is always a benefit.
What selling skills do the women of your team typically have?
Our local knowledge and market experience are two things that, together with a personalised approach, provide great customer service, trust and confidence in us.
The real estate market in Ibiza is very international, especially for a brand such as Sotheby’s International Realty. Did you notice any differences in the role of women during the search process according to different nationalities or cultures?
Business women have limited time, but they know clearly what they are looking for. Sometimes they do not need advice, they simply come by and only come back if they found exactly what they were looking for. And then they buy it. I would say that women make decisions more quickly than men during the process of buying a home. In my opinion, there are not many differences in how women act based on their nationalities. It is rather a cultural factor, we should not forget that there are still countries where women do not have the same rights and freedom to express themselves as men do.
What would you recommend to any other women who wish to develop a professional career in the real estate industry?
To have patience and a lot of willpower.
Which woman do you personally admire the most?
This is the most difficult question, to choose one is just impossible ... but apart from my mother I would say it´s Marie Salomea Sklodowska Curie and Coco Chanel.