Women are increasingly taking the lead in traditionally male-dominated industries, and woman with drive was delighted to find the Australian real estate business is no different. Many of our Melbourne readers will know premium real estate agency Kay & Burton. What few people don’t know is that the agency was actually co-founded by a woman and the agency’s current CEO is also female.
Nadia Karkar may have fell upon the industry by chance, but in less than one year; she has completely changed the face of the brand paving the way for more women to follow.
Nadia graduated from Melbourne University in 2004 with a Bachelor of Laws (Hons) / Bachelor of Commerce (Hons). After a year in Paris, she went on to complete a MBA at The University of Chicago Booth School of Business. Her career then took her to work in New York and Hong Kong as a corporate lawyer at international law firm, Weil, Gotshal & Manges. After convincing her partner to make the move back to her hometown Melbourne, Nadia met with long-time friend Ross Savas, Director of Kay & Burton, who would inspire her move into real estate.
woman with drive met with Nadia Karkar to gain some further insight into the real estate industry.
1. What inspired you to move into the real estate industry?
The move really came about by accident. The day before my wedding in Paris, Ross Savas took me out for breakfast. He asked whether I would be interested in him putting my name forward to the Kay & Burton Board for consideration as a candidate for CEO. I also almost fell off my chair! During the interview process, what struck me as unique about Kay & Burton was the passion that each of the directors had for their jobs – indeed, some have been at the firm for more than 40 years.
2. How have you found the transition?
In short, nothing really prepares you for a role as CEO; although I think I was more unprepared than most given I had gone from managing a team of three at Hastings Funds Management to leading a company of more than 100 employees. I was lucky to be able to quickly build up an incredibly talented and hard-working executive team.
3. What have been some of the challenges so far? And the highlights?
The biggest challenge has been to transform the culture of a company to embrace change, and quite rapid change at that. Paying homage to the firm’s 75-year heritage and tradition and moving into the 21st century and beyond is always a delicate balancing act. But, as I like to remind the Kay & Burton team, the firm was co-founded by a woman way back in 1938 – this would have done more than just raise eyebrows at the time!
4. How have you found working in a traditionally male dominated industry?
More than half of our staff are women and indeed, I’ve had meetings in which all the people in the room were women. Although this hasn’t yet extended to the boardroom, I have no doubt that we will soon see a much more diverse board in due course. Ultimately, it is a mix of genders, race, religion, industry backgrounds and other experiences that make for a truly effective team.
5. What changes have been made at Kay & Burton since your introduction?
In the first eight months of my tenure, we launched a new-look Kay & Burton brand to the market, which had an overwhelmingly positive reaction. One of my favorite initiatives was the inaugural Company Strategy Day, which was the first time ever that staff from all five offices were brought together under one roof to better understand the vision and strategic direction for the Company.
6. What inspired the new branding for Kay & Burton?
We wanted to better differentiate ourselves from the competition and also simplify our messaging. Drawing inspiration from fashion and other luxury goods houses, we wanted the brand to be sleek, timeless and speak to an international and cross-generational audience.
7. Where do you see the company in the future and yourself?
We’ve set a very strong foundation for the Company in 2014 and we are now poised to focus on our growth initiatives in 2015. This includes continuing to develop the $1-3 million market in Victoria, as well as potentially evaluating what other markets we may be able to penetrate further afield. As for me, I’ve got lots to do, so I’m not thinking too far ahead!
You may also like