Supporting gender diversity: Interview with Sowgol Zarinchang, Way of Life

Supporting gender diversity and encouraging conversations to support the growth of women across the industry, David Phillips talks to Sowgol Zarinchang, Managing Director, Way of Life.

Sowgol Zarinchang, Managing Director, Way of Life, interviewed as part of the gender diversity series | BTR News
Sowgol Zarinchang, Managing Director, Way of Life.
Women in Leadership facilitated by David Phillips | BTR News

With a background outside the property industry, Sowgol started from ‘ground zero’ before working her way up through roles in the private rented sector from credit control to project management and ultimately senior management. She took up her current position as Managing Director of PRS management company Way of Life in 2018.

Have you ever struggled to progress in your career?

Throughout my career, I’ve found that it’s always been about creating opportunities for myself, always being hungry and never being ashamed of asking. Sometimes this has been difficult in male-dominated environments – but I’ve been fortunate to work with people who are willing and happy to help.

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

No. I had to work hard to create opportunities and get a foot in the door. There are some key skills that have helped me gain an advantage such as multi-tasking, the ability to focus, and people-management skills. Having a strong ambition is always an advantage too.

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

I think the key is to make sure you don’t limit yourself and that you believe that everything is possible and available to you. It’s about being flexible in terms of your approach. When I started out, it was a more male-dominated industry, with all-male panel sessions at events and women typically in administrative or support roles. That’s not the case today, thankfully.

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 still have the issue that property isn’t seen as a profession in the UK. So it’s important to spread the message of the key role that we play in people’s lives as we engage with customers, residents and suppliers. I’d like to invest time and encourage female leaders to raise awareness of the careers available to them so that the next generation of women leaders are encouraged further to join the industry.

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?

It’s very bright. When I started out, I’d walk into an industry event full of middle-aged men and have to ask whether I was in the right meeting! Today I attend conferences and events and see more and more panel sessions run by women. However, we shouldn’t be focusing on whether you’re male or female: it’s more about who can do the job, who can deliver great service and is passionate about what they are doing. These are the people that deserve leadership positions.

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

It’s hard to name specific people because every day you’re learning, meeting good role models and people who inspire you. Also, each person brings a unique set of attributes to the table. I admire people who are innovative, passionate and can make a difference to their customers. It is about the application of skills rather than simply having them.

David Phillips – supporting gender diversity in the property industry

At David Philips, we’re committed to gender equality. We strive to create a workplace that reflects the communities we serve, where everyone feels empowered and part of an inclusive workplace culture. 

Whilst female representation in the property market has improved markedly in recent years, there is still work to be done, with only 30% of senior management positions in property occupied by woman. Over the next 12 months we’ll be conducting interviews with some of the industry’s influential woman to share their career stories, the challenges they have overcome and their views on how to address gender gaps within management and senior roles across our industry.  

We continue to push for better representation and recognition for woman. Creating a culture of equality isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s also the smart thing, research shows that diverse companies are more innovative and more profitable. With this series we aim to shine a light on some of the industry’s leading talent and encourage a conversation that continues the drive towards gender equality.