In the male-dominated hierarchy, women are generally projected to have capricious career priorities post motherhood. However, reality presents another picture says SaksheeKatyal, CEO of Home & Soul, a real estate development company focused on luxury based housing.
A robust real estate industry is the cornerstone of a strong economy. A crucial part of the Indian economy, the nation’s real estate sector contributes over six percent of India’s GPD. The sector’s recent growth has been brought along owing to a thrivingcorporate environment and the demand for office space as well as urban & semi-urban accommodation. Although caught in the troughs owing to the pandemic and inflation, the real estate sector is picking up pace and moving towards growth.
While the industry moves forward, there is one segment of the society that has been kept on the sidelines of the aforementioned growth, i.e. women leaders.
For years the real estate industry has been looked at as a male dominated industry. But the dynamics have changed now, believes SaksheeKatiyal.
An agent of this very change underway in the industry, Sakshee is the CEO of Home&Soul, a real estate development company. Speaking about more women foraying into the real estate sector, she says, “From property consultants, and channel partners; to the leading multinational real estate development firms, women are leading the Indian real estate sector to scale new heights.”
She further examines the underlying causes that have excluded women leaders from the industry so far and adds, “In the male-dominated hierarchy, women are generally projected to have capricious career priorities post motherhood. However, reality presents another picture. The inspiring stories of women who took a step forward for leadership roles in the real estate sector have proved that marriage and motherhood are not obstacles to their professional growth. But to some extent, I still feel there is a long way for us women to walk but yes over time we are seeing positive changes.”
Motherhood & Leadership are More Alike that we might think
Sakshee herself is a product of this change; leading a real estate business and also playing the role of a parent. She sees a similarity between the two roles, “Motherhood and leadership are two similar things kept in different bowls. Just like motherhood, leadership is a continuous growth experience with new goals, successes and challenges.For me, both have been beautiful journeys.”
Sakshee also believes that contrary to popular belief, motherhood has helped her sharpened her leadership skills. “Professional work experience combined with the learning of motherhood create a powerful combination of skills, and it has worked for me. The learnings from being a mother have made me an even more successful leader in the organization,” adds Sakshee.
She highlights the criticality of time management in terms of taking care of two very vital things in your life, family and business.
Making the Case for Diversity & Inclusion in Real Estate
Sakshee forayed in the real estate sector in 2007 and since then has steered Home&Soul to successfully complete a plethora of luxury based housing projects such as Boulevard Walk, Beetle Lap, Page Three and F Premier.
But sheis no stranger to the micro-aggressions that women leaders have had to face over the years. Saksheenarrates one such incident from her early days of taking over as the CEO for Home & Soul. “We were meeting a fellow developer for some work. When he came to meet us in our office, he said he was expecting someone else as the CEO. I could judge that he was expecting a male counterpart for the meeting. He was uncomfortable during the whole discussion,” recounts Sakshee.
Incidents such as these make the case stronger for bringing in diversity and inclusion in the workforce, especially in industries such as real estate which have long been known to be male bastions.
Sakshee underlines the way forward to building a more diverse, inclusive and equitable workforce. “The first step is for stakeholders to emphasize the business case for diversity and inclusion. It has been researched and we have also seen that when workplace teams reflect their target customers, the entire team is more than twice as likely to innovate effectively for their end users,” says Sakshee.
She then highlights the importance of inclusive leadership which can create a safe environment where all employees can speak up, be heard and feel welcome.
As they say, you can’t improve what you can’t measure. The same goes for DEI goals as well. “It is important to communicate the goals to be achieved and measure them for growth. This helps in the improvement of the employee as well as the company,” adds Sakshee.
Her last bit of advice is to not shy away from addressing the differences. Instead Sakshee suggests that differences must be celebrated. This will make employees feel like their background, culture and traditions are valued & respected.
Real Estate in Choppy Waters
The past two years have been a roller coaster ride for the Indian real estate sector, especially post- pandemic. Speaking about the current industry trends affecting the Indian real estate sector, Sakshee explains, “Recently the Indian real estate sector has been hit by the changing of repo rates, which have affected residential real estate.” She further explains that this phenomenon has to be accepted by sellers, investors and consumers. Banks have also begun to announce the increase in lending rates following the RBI move. “The decision has prompted developers to increase the prices of new housing projects in India. After Covid, the market is still trying to come back to life as earlier. The increasing prices of raw material is also impacting the real-estate sector. In fact price rise is a global phenomenon, due to external factors like the Russia Ukraine war and also higher inflation globally,” adds Sakshee.
“The upcoming festive season is the most crucial period when economic activity picks up in the residential space,” says Sakshee.Her hope is that the upcoming festive season will bring along with it strong growth momentum in the Indian real estate market.