#BeBoldForChange - 9 Female Property Pioneers That Have Paved the Way For Change in Australia


March 8th officially marks International Women’s Day (IWD), which we see as a great opportunity to reflect on leadership and change within the property industry.

IWD was founded to raise awareness through bridging the gender gap and promoting equality across the globe.

Whilst the property industry has historically weighed significantly in favor to men, we are seeing more young women find their passion in the industry and raise up through the ranks.

The success of future generations will come about as a result of those that have paved the way for greater diversity in property and urban development in Australia.

To celebrate International Women’s Day, The Urban Developer spoke to several leading women in property to talk career advice, gender equality and balancing work-life in the modern age.


Nerida Conisbee - REA Group Chief Economist


Nerida Conisbee is the REA Group Chief Economist, a role that was newly created last year. In total she has now been in the property industry for 20 years and in that time seen a lot of change. Nerida’s ability to get to where she has, has stemmed from her fascination with property. After taking a role with economic consulting firm, Jebb Holland Dimasi, she joined JLL and then Colliers where she was appointed Head of Research. Her move to REA Group represented a big change and it’s given her an opportunity to continue growing in her chosen profession.


There has been a steady increase in the number of women in the property industry. When I started, I found it very difficult to find role models, there just didn’t seem to be that many senior women around, particularly in Melbourne where I have spent the majority of my career.

Over the past five years, the opportunities in the industry have accelerated and programs such as the Male Champions of Change and the Panel Pledge have given women more of a voice. It was more difficult for me to get that voice until those programs were implemented.

Social media has also been helpful – you don’t necessarily have to have the loudest voice to be heard! I have also had quite a few people that really helped me along the way – mentors are great but these people are better than that. They saw I had potential and pushed me forward and now I try and offer that same help to younger people I think have potential.

What are your tips for young aspiring property professionals and/or what could be done to encourage more young women to join the industry?

  •    Hard work and determination always gets noticed eventually, even if it doesn’t seem that way at the time
  •    Find people that will support you and support them back
  •    For women, working in companies with a lot of senior women is easier as it normalises having key women at the top.


Ming Long - Former CFO of Investa



Long is an influential leader with more than a decade of experience in real estate encompassing areas such as funds and capital management, property development; and over twenty years experience in financial management. Ming has held leadership positions including Board, CEO and CFO roles. She is one of only a handful of CEO's with an Asian heritage who have led an ASX-100 or 200 listed entity in Australia.

ML: I fell into real estate quite by accident through the finance stream. When I became the CFO of Investa during the GFC it was highly levered by private equity.  It was during this extremely challenging time I really refined my deep understanding of the drivers of real estate to recapitalise, restructure and develop. I then executed a strategy which ultimately saved the Group. As a result of that work  the Board promoted me to MD of the Group on retirement of the CEO.

What are your tips for young aspiring property professionals and/or what could be done to encourage more young women to join the industry?

  • Participate and be vocal in real estate forums and committees. It is important that real estate harnesses and gets the perspectives of a wide range of people so that we can get the best outcome for the industry and society.
  • Get your support network together of men and women who have your back and you have theirs. This is important in building confidence and having champions and sponsors who will promote you when you feel self-conscious.  
  • Build your profile - if you aren't already on social media get on it. It's important that people see your passions, thoughts and ideas more broadly than your current role. You are also a role model for others in the industry and we need to see you.
  • Help others - there's always someone who is more junior than you. There are a number of women I help and female leaders I know do the same. We can't help everyone, but together as a collective we can.
  • Understand that as a leader or manager you can use diversity to your advantage now. Don't wait for your board, CEO or executives to do it. You can start in your team. All of the research shows that those who get diversity will outperform their peers. Use diversity in your career to help you be more successful.



Danni Addison, Victorian CEO Urban Development Institute of Australia (UDIA)


Danni Addison was appointed Victorian CEO of the Urban Development Institute of Australia (UDIA) in January 2015, by a Board with a strong mandate to guide generational change. Looking back, Danni’s career decisions reflect an ongoing interest in reform and improvement. But it wasn’t until her previous role as Senior Adviser, Office of the Victorian Minister for Planning, that she really felt the distinction between influencing decisions and actually making them, and realised she preferred being the influencer. That’s when policy reform became Danni’s goal and ultimately led to her current role at the UDIA.

DA: My professional experience suited the role, but even more than that, I believe the Board saw great value for the organisation in the way I challenge myself, policy-makers and the property industry.  I’m not afraid of having difficult conversations which is a big part of driving innovation in our industry and achieving effective policy reform. I’ve been incredibly lucky in my career that a number of key individuals have taken a chance on me and championed me into roles even before I may have felt ready. I cannot understate the importance of this.

What are your tips for young aspiring property professionals and/or what could be done to encourage more young women to join the industry?

In order to encourage greater diversity within the property sector, we need to empower all individuals – regardless of age, gender or race – to participate and succeed within the industry.



Carmel Hourigan- Global Head of Property at AMP Capital


Carmel Hourigan is the Global Head of Real Estate for AMP Capital, leading their $23 billion property investment and management business. Previously Chief Investment Officer for the GPT Group, Carmel’s 23 years of experience also includes roles in a range of leading Australian property companies.

CH: Property is great because it’s dynamic, with skills you can take anywhere! It’s also quite a welcoming industry. No one cares where you came from, what your background is or what school you went to and you can have children and a career in property. But we need to do more to encourage girls to consider property as a career. If we said, “We build cities, offices and shopping centres of the future, we create communities and we invest in super funds around the world,” I think girls would find that an exciting proposition.

What are your tips for young aspiring property professionals and/or what could be done to encourage more young women to join the industry?

  •         Learn everything you can to build your experience and keep an eye on opportunities;
  •         Work hard at creating a network; and be yourself. Be comfortable being a woman in leadership. Recognise and value your strengths – emotional and technical.  You don’t have to be aggressive to succeed.

Whilst we were unable to sit down with them, we'd also like to acknowledge five other female property pioneers who have paved the way for change in Australia. 



Carolyn Viney -

Real Estate Executive at Vicinity Centres   



Romilly Madew-

CEO of Green Building Council Australia (GBCA)   



Susan Lloyd-Hurwitz -

Chief Executive Officer & Managing Director at Mirvac   



Zahava Elenberg -

Co Founder of Elenberg Fraser and Founder of Move-in Pty Ltd 




Carol Schwartz  -

Company Director, Businesswoman and Philanthropist 

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