02 Mar Fiona Roberts – A Woman in Property
While not a new concept, being a woman in property is still not considered ‘the norm’. Fiona’s career has taken her from an entry level role at a Big 4 bank, to being an integral part of the building and continued success of IBN Direct.
She is a Woman, Operations Manager, Wife, Mother, sister, daughter, avid reader, artist, gardener and good cuppa afficionado.
Read on to find out more about Fiona, her experience and life as part of Australia’s thriving property industry.
IBN Direct: Who are you?
Fiona: How very philosophical of you…! LOL. I’m a creator. I make things happen. I don’t take “no” for an answer. I’m incredibly focused and organised. I do what needs to be done, however much it challenges me. My weakness is chocolate, red wine… and spiders. I HATE spiders.
IBN Direct: How long have you worked in the property industry?
Fiona: Forever! Was hooked after buying my first house at 18yo.
IBN Direct: How did you get started in your career?
Fiona: Straight out of school, and into a big 4 banking career. Studied at Uni part time. Great foundation, and still stay in touch with a lot of past colleagues. I started as a batch clerk, and then was trained on one of the first encoding machines (showing my age there…). I can remember walking around Brisbane CBD with a bag of cash – because that’s what you used to send your probationer to do!
IBN Direct: What have been your career highlights to date?
Fiona: Obviously being an integral part of the growth of IBN and its associated companies over the past 16 years has been an amazing challenge and allowed me enormous personal and professional growth. Not a day passes where I am not learning something about myself, the business or the industry – not everyone is that lucky! I also truly loved being a BDM at Bluestone. It was in the pre-GFC golden period, and was a terrifically exciting time to be a part of the non-conforming industry. I was able to develop meaningful relationships and mentor brokers in how to use non-conforming lending, as that sub-set of the industry was still developing. I still look to some of the lessons I learned during that time for guidance now.
IBN Direct: What do you like to do in your spare time?
Fiona: This spare time you speak of…? LOL. Family first for me. Wife to Scott, Mum to Sam, and Fur/Feather-Mum to a menagerie. When it’s actually possible, the things I most enjoy are a clean house, complete peace and quiet, a good book and a nice cup of tea. I’m currently reading “Atomic Habits” by James Clear, and “The Signature of All Things” by Elizabeth Gilbert.
IBN Direct: What has been the biggest shift you have seen regarding women in the property industry?
Fiona: More women in leadership roles, and less tolerance for “Old School” chauvinism. My abilities are the only yardstick now, as should be for all people. We’ve also seen a shift in flexibility of working schedules, but this needs to continue – for the benefit of all. Wage equality is the next big hurdle.
IBN Direct: How do you see the role of women in the industry moving forward?
Fiona: I hope that we will see more women in senior leadership roles, being recognised for our strengths. We tend to see a reasonably even distribution of genders at middle management level, but then we see a substantial drop off.
IBN Direct: What’s your elevator pitch (you personally)
Fiona: Tricky. Have never really thought about this. Is the below what you mean?
Thirty years’ experience in banking and finance, with a comprehensive knowledge of all aspects of retail and commercial banking and a superior knowledge of the finance broking industry.
Over twenty years recent experience within the lending and broker markets in various positions, including credit, compliance, operations and marketing. Enduring relationships with lenders, aggregators, brokers and many other industry stakeholders. Exceptional relationship building and interpersonal skills, solid planning and decision‐making abilities, competitive nature, results focused, highly motivated and organised, with a strong desire to succeed.
IBN Direct: What education has been helpful for you working in the industry?
Fiona: Despite having a “traditional” education for the industry, I feel that my most important learning has been on the job. I love learning and will always ask questions and look for better ways to do things. The pieces of paper are needed for compliance, but the real education is in the everyday actions we take.
IBN Direct: What advice do you have for women who want to enter the property industry?
Fiona: Be prepared to get uncomfortable – growth and change isn’t easy and the WHOLE industry is changing. Be confident and ask for the support you need – this is not a weakness.