Supporting gender diversity – Interview with Caroline Comer, Comer Homes

Supporting gender diversity and encouraging conversations to support the growth of women across the industry, David Phillips talks to Caroline Comer, Sales & Marketing Director, Comer Homes Group.

Caroline Comer, Sales & Marketing Director, Comer Homes Group | BTR News
Caroline Comer, Sales & Marketing Director, Comer Homes Group.

Caroline has worked in the family business founded by her father, Brian Comer and uncle, Luke Comer, since childhood. She has worn many hats but her longest and current role is Sales & Marketing Director, where she oversees every active site in the Comer Homes portfolio. She enjoys the challenge of building an identity for a new development and then selling that dream.

Have you ever struggled to progress in your career?

Having worked in the family company for my entire career, progress hasn’t been a struggle in itself, but you have to work ten times harder to prove you are in the role you deserve and not the role that was handed to you. So it’s this work ethic that has supported me along the way. I have worked seven days a week, and you’ll see me doing whatever it takes to get the job finished. Even if that means donning a hard hat and boots to get a development looking its best to help me do my day job and sell it!

Have you felt that being a woman has given you an advantage in the industry?

Yes and no. Property is quite male dominated and being a strong and decisive woman can rub people up the wrong way sometimes, and you have to be a tough character to compete. You have to work harder as a woman within this industry to make yourself heard, which I hope will change in the future.

Given the industry’s gender gap in leadership, how did you reach your level of success?

By sheer hard work and a very strong determination to succeed: I’m a very strong-willed person. My father has a saying that I always follow in life: ‘there’s only one way of doing something and that is to just go and do it’. I live my life by this. It means I don’t like to take no for an answer and often find a way of getting the job done by just putting my head down and working hard.

What needs to change to inform the next generation of female leaders about the industry and the roles available to them? Do we need more support for women at school level to understand the opportunity?

I think we need to see more women within this industry, especially onsite. I would love to see more female project managers and site workers. For example, we have encouraged a young woman to pursue her dream career of becoming one of our project managers. She’s enrolled in our in-house training scheme and is progressing very well. This is certainly a pathway we want to open for more women coming into the industry and one I hope other developers will open up, too.

What does the future look like for women in property and what advice would you give the next generation of female leaders joining the industry?

The future is looking great for women within the industry. Attitudes have changed over the last five or so years and we are seeing a complete shift. My advice to the next generation of female leaders is to be strong, empowered and inspiring. When women become leaders, they bring new talents and new views alongside structural and cultural diversity to the companies they work for, resulting in more successful solutions.

Who inspired you/are your role models and who do you admire in the industry?

It’s hard to name them all, but one standout name is Sue Fisher, Head of Residential Development, Greater London & Country at Hamptons. I love her attitude. She is a very strong- willed character who will take control and make sure things are done properly and successfully. I also work with a fantastic female role model at Comer Homes, Rebecca Lloyd. She is our in-house interior designer and has an amazing go-getter attitude. We work very well together as a team and we’re a force to be reckoned with, especially at board meetings.