Kylie Walsh puts a different spin on the old saying, ‘You can’t have it all’. A dedicated voice for women in the real estate industry, the DiJONES general manager was recognised as the Most Influential Woman in Property at the AREA Excellence Awards late last year.
Like many female role models before her, including Oprah Winfrey, Ita Buttrose and Madeleine Albright, Kylie agrees that women can have a career as well as a successful and fulfilling personal life – so long as they’re smart about achieving set goals.
“You can have it all – you just can’t have it all at the one time,” she says.
A prolific speaker and mentor within the industry, Kylie says events provide her with the platform to drive professionalism and raise awareness within the real estate industry of women’s capabilities.
“There is simply not enough airtime outside Women In Real Estate events to elevate what we are really capable of whilst addressing what can hold us back,” she says.
“I want to encourage women who attend to be honest with their colleagues and with themselves about all the balls they are juggling.
“Women need to stop trying to be invincible or self-sabotage through not putting themselves up for a pay rise or a promotion.
“By communicating the message that it is okay to put your hand up or say you are struggling, I have had numerous women say I have changed their lives and expectations of themselves.”
Kylie says realising you can’t do everything at once isn’t about failure, but the opposite – a chance to succeed in all areas of life and career, otherwise known as ‘having it all’, sequentially.
At the beginning
Taking a look at Kylie’s real estate career, which started at Elders Eastern Suburbs in Sydney when she was just 18, it’s proof she practises what she preaches.
Never one to shy away from a challenge, Kylie moved to LJ Hooker in Tamworth, where she polished her skills and became a licensed stock and station agent and real estate agent. At 21 she went back to the Elders group and purchased her own office, which she sold in 2006.
“I didn’t know any better and I wanted to be my own boss and lead a team,” Kylie says of the decision to go it alone.
“When I sold the office in 2006 I moved into franchising, where my roles included positions as state manager in NSW and Queensland for Elders Limited. Later I was promoted to national operations manager.
“My last role at LJ Hooker Corporation saw me take on the challenge of network performance manager for the group’s top-performing offices.”
Since joining DiJONES in 2014 Kylie’s star has continued to rise. Along with CEO Rob Ward, who has steered the ship since April 2016, Kylie and the team have achieved results that have left AREAs judges astounded.
In the 12 months leading up to the awards submissions, revenue has risen 228.8 per cent, while the size of the team has jumped from 39 to 107, including 33 new employees in the past year.
The team sold more than 400 properties in the same period and auctioned 381 properties at an average clearance rate of 87 per cent.
In property management, the DiJONES rent roll organically increased 22 per cent in the 12-month period, while the Thornleigh and Beecroft sales team merged to form a super-office in Beecroft.
I want to encourage women who attend to be honest with their colleagues and with themselves about all the balls they are juggling.
Yet Kylie says her proudest achievement was being the only female real estate agent invited to speak at Parliament House on the need to drive change in industry practices.
Kylie believes an industry-funded hotline should be developed where consumers can phone to receive independent advice on buying and selling, and read agent reviews – including up-to-date information on agents’ professional development and real estate regulations.
“If we are serious about being customer-centric and transparent then we should support and fund something like this,” she says.
“Agents have the REIs at state and national levels, but who is there to lobby for the consumer?”
In 2015, Kylie introduced breastfeeding rooms at all DiJONES offices for staff and members of the public to use to express milk or to feed their babies.
In the coming three years her plan is to open a creche to engage and better support mothers returning to work.
“Nothing is more stressful when you’re returning to work than putting your child into childcare,” says Kylie, a mother of two daughters, aged eight and five.
“We also have a desire to hire more mothers on maternity leave in our customer care business unit. Our customer care business monitors client experience and searches for lead generation opportunities for finance, property management and insurance.
“This role, with our technology platform, can be done from home at any time of the day or early evening. This would provide flexibility and, I believe, better results and engagement of the workforce.
“We’ll grow our network to 10 offices and 5,000 managements by 2023 and be the employer of choice for women.”
What made my year was when a man came up to me after a conference and said thank you for helping him understand what his wife was going through.
Other plans include developing a workshop for male sales agents to equip them with the skills to help nurture and support women in the workplace. Kylie also intends continuing to shine the spotlight on health and wellbeing after being diagnosed with breast cancer in April 2016.
“I have received emails following conferences from women saying, ‘Thank you, I had the mammogram I had been putting off,’ and this makes me incredibly proud,” Kylie says.
“What made my year was when a man came up to me after a conference and said thank you for helping him understand what his wife was going through.”
Kylie says her final, vitally important, goal is to inspire the DiJONES team members to support each other in their times of greatest need.
“When I was undergoing chemotherapy all 107 team members cooked for my family for seven months, so we had meals delivered every Monday and I didn’t have to cook,” she says. “I would like to roll that out as a benchmark for our people when their families are going through tough times – almost like an astral program offered in skills.
“Our values are family, passion, authenticity and collaboration, so I cannot think of a better way to empower our men and women to support their own team.”