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Alison Sharp, Senior Lettings Operations Coordinator

“I think it’s important to highlight that gender inequality still has a slant towards the responsibility of caring for families, especially elderly parents, falling to women. When my father battled cancer during my time at a previous company, the demands of work overshadowed precious moments with him. And tragically, I also missed his final moments due to my mother's fear to disrupt my work life due to a lack of support in the office. This hugely highlighted the importance of working for a business that can show compassion in times of adversity – we all face them. Since, my colleagues at John D Wood & Co. have shown me unwavering support allowing me to prioritise family without guilt, especially when my mother suffered a stroke.

As responsibilities for caregiving all too often fall to women as we age, I found myself assuming the role of matriarch navigating through family challenges. So having supportive family-like environment at work now, is a feeling that is second to none. From refurbishing my mother's house and getting tips from the Property Management Department, or pursuing personal academic endeavours, the understanding and encouragement from colleagues like Hayley, Zara, Alex, and Laura have been invaluable.

John D Wood & Co. is a company for life, I was here in my 20’s and came back in my 40’s. I had to take time away from the business, but when I came back, it was a much needed transition – I was able to work part-time, three days a week, and from home. Now, pleased to be back in the office, working four days a week, and feeling supported in both my personal growth and well-being.”

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Claire Carter, Country House Manager

“Working as a Country House Manager is a dream job for me, as it allows me to merge my passions seamlessly. As an independent and ambitious character, my job also aligns with my passion for both property and connection. I am often on the road, exploring the charming towns and villages of Kent and Sussex, knocking on doors, speaking to people, and endeavouring to change the perception of estate agents one interaction at a time.

While I relish the opportunity to showcase (and sell!) a diverse selection of properties, what truly drives me is the human aspect of this business. I firmly believe that as agents, we're not just selling houses; we're selling homes filled with stories and memories. So, prioritising the needs of our clients is not just a professional ethos but an ingrained personal value.

Throughout my career, I've cherished the privilege of being part of someone's journey, whether it's guiding them through the emotional process of downsizing from their home after 50 years, upsizing due to a growing family or dealing with sensitive situations such as probate. My approach is to bring an active listening ear and empathetic support, recognising the profound impact that I can have on other’s lives.

Being part of building the John D Wood & Co. Country House department over the last 18 months has been rewarding, but has required resilience, creativity, and unwavering dedication. I am proud to see what we have achieved so far and excited to see what the future holds.”

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Polly Ogden Duffy, Managing Director

“International Women’s Day unashamedly shines a light on women and their achievements. I believe that in order to empower women in our industry, we must challenge traditional norms and adopt an inclusive approach. By promoting more women into leadership roles, we will redefine norms and highlight examples of successful work-life balance.

An employee returning to John D Wood & Co. called to tell me she was pregnant and therefore wouldn't want to accept the job and subsequently 'let me down'. I swiftly informed her that I had offered her a job for at least the next 10 years not just the next 12 months, and that having a child shouldn't be a reason to put your career on hold! I am delighted to say that some years later the same individual sits within our leadership team, and will no doubt adopt a similar approach to managing her own staff should the time come. I am inspired by the women around me who despite sleepless nights with young children, show up and deliver, and I'm proud to be one of them!

To my younger self and other women now, I'd emphasise the importance of seeking inspiring mentors, because a supportive environment is key to personal and professional growth – a great leader will empower you and encourage you.”

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Chris Kelly, Head of Marketing

“I feel strongly about everyone being treated equal regardless of age, race or gender. There is still inequality between and men and women which saddens me but my own experiences have been anything but that. Personally, I am inspired by my wife's hard-earned successful career. To support her, we made the decision for me to take joint maternity and paternity leave, ensuring her career progression wasn't hindered. Although unconventional, this decision challenged norms and provided invaluable time with my young boys. I think it’s crucial to advocate for equality not just in the workplace but also in our personal lives, contributing to a more inclusive society for all.”

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Laura Purvor, Senior Lettings Manager

“As a Senior Letting Manager in a bustling office, juggling the responsibilities of mentoring a team, while managing the needs of landlord and tenant clients, and being a mother of a boisterous three year old (who thinks he is fifteen!) my days are far from tranquil. Yet, amidst the chaos, I find both my roles as a dedicated professional and as a devoted mother, enjoyable and rewarding.

Returning to work after maternity leave amidst the uncertainties of a post-Covid world in 2020 has been a journey filled with challenges and triumphs. I have found flexibility to be key in navigating the intricacies of modern life. Though there are many ways to manage the demands faced by women, whether they're mothers or not.

Personally, I find balance and happiness in allowing the different roles I play to merge and overlap, and don’t attempt to keep a firm distinction – I’m not a Lettings Manager during the working day and a Mother out of business hours, I am both almost 24/7. I'm fortunate to work for a company that values flexibility and trusts its employees, allowing me to seamlessly integrate my professional and personal life. This support empowers me to excel in both arenas, whether I'm negotiating leases or nurturing my child.

In my personal life, one child is certainly enough for me, but professionally I am always looking to grow the numbers when it comes to landlords and tenants!”

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Tanya Hasking, Head of Lettings

“For me, International Women’s Day is an opportunity to reflect and challenge ourselves on what it means to be a woman, and in particular a woman fortunate enough to have a career and a family. All too often, women are forced to decide between having one or the other and I am incredibly grateful to have been afforded the opportunity to have both.

I am inspired by the powerful women around me who work hard to be both mothers and professionals, and as a mother of three amazing boys myself, I consider it my responsibility to show that women really can have it all.

A piece of advice I would give to the next generation would be - surround yourself with inspiring people who champion your successes, pick you up during challenging times and who offer encouragement and constructive feedback. These people might be men, they might be women, and they might come from all different areas of the business and in life. Prioritise the company of those who serve as a positive influence – it really is all about who you surround yourself with.”