To celebrate International Women’s Day 2022 we caught up with Nicola Merry, Head of Product Sales at TOG to discuss all things career, from what keeps her motivated to her experience working in a predominately male industry.
Tell us a bit about yourself
I’ve worked in property for almost a decade. I started my career in the online broking team at The Instant Group, where I stayed for five years. For me, it was a huge part of getting to know the industry and understanding how it works. For the last four years I’ve led the 20-strong central sales function here at TOG. I’m responsible for managing inbound enquiries for office space and the commercial performance of all TOG products including meeting rooms, coworking memberships and event sales.
How did you get into property?
My father was a Naval Architect so I’ve always had an interest in architecture; I wanted to work in property. I got my first role after graduating from university, so I didn’t have specific industry experience. I joined The Instant Group as part of the support team which allowed me to apply the skills I did already have. It was a great platform for learning and developing my career in the industry.
What does a day in the life of you look like?
I like to take some time to myself in the mornings before a hectic day, so I wake up shortly before 7am and spend 15 minutes or so doing yoga or practicing mediation – my husband calls it my ‘quiet time’. I’ll usually get into the office for 9am. Each day can be completely different. I can have calls with our broker partners, meetings catching up with the TOG team on new products or pricing reviews. A lot of my time is spent managing people, be that team meetings or 1:1s. Of course, some days are very reactive to the market so I may need to focus my attention on our strategy for new enquiries or working on business development. This year TOG are opening three new buildings in London so there is currently a lot of focus here. After work, I usually make dinner with my husband, then I head to the gym around 8:30pm and aim to be in bed by 11pm.
How do you succeed in a generally very male dominated working environment?
My view is that teams should collaborate and work together, not against one another. It’s not a case of men vs women. I do think it’s important to recognise different skill sets and be confident in the value you bring. We don’t all need to take the same approach or have the same skills; combining different ways of working often makes the most powerful teams. At TOG, the sales management team are always willing to learn from each other.
- What motivates you in your career?
I would say I’m motivated by delivering results, as naturally, in a sales environment you have targets that need to be achieved. In a broader sense, I’m driven by achieving success whether that’s growing revenue or improving a process. It’s important to me that I know I did a good job – I always want to be proud of my work and never want to feel that I haven’t given it my all.
Do you find it easy to balance work/life?
Some days/weeks are easier than others of course, but our current ways of working at TOG really help. We spend three days a week working at Head Office as a team, with the flexibility to work from home or from other locations on the other two days. I tend to work from the other TOG locations, such as Waterloo or Covent Garden. I find this hybrid approach helps hugely with the work/life balance. Some working weeks are much busier than others, so during those times I make sure that I use the downtime I do have to really do the things I enjoy.
Who would you consider your biggest role model, and why?
Hmm this is a tricky one! Members of my family are role models to me, with lots of interesting and varied careers, including entrepreneurs, teachers and architecture. If I was forced to choose one, I’d say my father-in-law; he runs a post-production house in the film industry. He has an incredible work ethic, exceptional business acumen and he’s a brilliant leader. He employs over 150 people but treats them all as his equals and he’s a huge advocate for supporting women in film. Away from work I’ve learnt a lot from him, like thinking outside the box and challenging opinions, which has helped me throughout my career when it comes to challenging the status quo.
What advice would you give to young females in property?
Take every opportunity you can to learn more about the industry, various products and key players in the market. Keep on top of industry news. Think outside the role you’re currently in and don’t be afraid to ask questions.
Do you think the property industry could be doing more to encourage women to the industry, and if so what does that look like to you?
I’d like to see more women in leadership roles. Women are often compassionate leaders that can build high performing teams. This is important in motivating employees to innovate and deliver results.
As the industry evolves, there’s also lots of new opportunities for women (and men). There’s new roles being created that didn’t exist in the industry before, particularly in tech integration, data and sustainability. With new ideas and innovation, the opportunities are endless and will attract talent to the industry.
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