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Leading ladies share their success journeys

A success coach and behavioural profiler that was once a personal bodyguard for the queen was just one of the inspiring speakers at Ray White’s Leading Ladies of Real Estate Canapes and Conversations events this month.

The room was full at the Brisbane event as almost 150 leading ladies gathered to hear from success coach and behavioural profiler Natalie Waters.

Ms Waters spoke about taking risks and looking for opportunities to achieve extraordinary success

From working with national border control targeting narcotics, illegal immigration, and illegal fishing; working in hostage negotiation in the United Arab Emirates; to being a personal body guard for the Queen, Ms Waters said she believed risk taking was really just, “Saying yes to opportunities”. 

“We stick in our comfort zone all the time, but when we get out and do things we’re uncomfortable with is when we experience growth, and that’s what we should get out and be doing all the time,” she said. 

Success coach and behavioural profiler Natalie Waters at the Brisbane event.

During her different roles, Ms Waters became an expert at behavioural profiling, and explained how profiling dominant, influencer, stabiliser, and compliant personality types could be used in our professional and personal lives. 

“Go out and start profiling people – go out, gather that information, and adapt,” she said. 

“Adapt the way you communicate, it could be a client or a friend. 

“You need to adapt the way you handle meetings and how much detail you go into. The questions you ask need to be tailored. How you seal the deal and how you negotiate needs to change depending on who you’re dealing with.”

Since their inception 18 months ago, the Leading Ladies events have continued to gain momentum, with cocktail and breakfast events being held across Australia and New Zealand, as well as more than 1000 people tuning into the Leading Ladies Journeys webinars. 

Throughout November, Canapes and Conversations took place in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth.

In Sydney, ladies from across the real estate industry gathered for a night of networking at The Grounds of Alexandria. 

The night was hosted by Ray White General Manager of NSW/ACT Bridgette Collis and Ray White Head of Organisational Development Natalie Hortz, who said they were excited to see so many familiar faces alongside so many new ones. 

“This initiative came together from a joint feeling from corporate and the network about what our female agents wanted, and that was to come together and share our journeys, and our stories and that’s what Leading Ladies is all about,” Ms Collis said. 

Ms Collis said Ray White had seen a record number of female Elite agents in 2022, and in the property management division all the international award winners were female.

Ray White General Manager of NSW/ACT Bridgette Collis and Ray White Head of Organisational Development Natalie Hortz at the Sydney event.

Ray White Erkinsville agent Bianca Field said she really enjoyed the Leading Ladies events. 

“What I love is that despite the industry being male dominated, events like these highlight the strength and reach of women in the industry and it makes me excited about the future,” Ms Field said. 

“It’s an opportunity to reconnect and reflect on the journey and see how far we have all come.” 

Ray White Erkinsville agent Bianca Field (centre) with Astrid Joarder (left) and Kate Smith (right).

Leading ladies from all over the state gathered in Melbourne for the Ray White Victoria event, which featured a panel conversation with Ray White Cheltenham Agent and Auctioneer Angela Limanis and Ray White Forest Hill Property Management Director Jacinta Jackson. 

Ray White Chief Economist Nerida Conisbee, who originally hailed from Melbourne before she made the move to Sydney, kicked off the event by sharing her journey.

Ms Conisbee said she always had an interest in maths, which led her to an economics degree. 

She spoke about the many pivotal decisions she has made throughout her career and the important lessons she has learnt along the way. 

“I look back at my career and going into property was a great decision because it’s taken me on an incredible journey. It was such a major part of what I did,” Ms Conisbee said.

“I learned the importance of being comfortable within myself. In my early career I was always looking at other people and so that was a big step for me to know that I am who I am. I’m not like other economists and maybe I don’t fit into a certain mould.”

Ray White Chief Economist Nerida Conisbee speaking at the Melbourne event.

During the panel, star auctioneer Ms Limanis spoke about the edge being a female auctioneer and agent gives her at the listing table.

“Auctioneering was the next logical step in my career,” she said.

“The local auctioneers were mostly guys who had been doing it for 10 to 15 years and they’d become complacent and too comfortable.

“I thought, imagine if a female with a bit of pizazz and personality came in?”

Ray White Inverloch Principal Fiona McMahon-Hughes came from regional Victoria to attend the event with her two daughters.

“I’ve brought my two daughters, who are in the business with me, down here tonight so they can be inspired by some of the amazing women here and hear their different stories,” Ms McMahon-Hughes said.

Ray White Inverloch Principal Fiona McMahon-Hughes with her daughters Olivia and Sophie Hughes.

Department Manager of Property Management at Ray White Cranbourne, Bree Robertson said she loved the networking aspect of the Leading Ladies events.

“You’re able to learn from inspiring women in the business and meet new people you wouldn’t normally see on a day to day basis,” Ms Robertson said. 

In the west, some 30 Leading Ladies gathered at The Camfield in Perth to network and be inspired by Kendall Whyte of the Blue Tree Project.

Kendall Whyte is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Blue Tree Project, a grass-roots charity making an impact across Australia. 

Its mission is to help spark difficult conversations and break down the stigma of mental health, by giving dead trees ‘a blue lease on life’. 

The project was inspired by the tragic loss of Kendall’s brother, Jayden, who took his own life in 2018 at age 29. 

The blue tree that was once painted as a practical joke now acts as a beacon of hope for those struggling.

Kendall’s work has seen her win Young Australian of the Year in Western Australia in 2022. 

Some 900 dead trees have been given a new lease on life which encourages people all over Australia to reach out and talk if they are in distress.

“Ask for help, we are always so afraid about asking for help. Normalise it, when things are tough. Women often take on a carer’s role but thankfully things are changing and we’re seeing more emotional intelligence with men which is great,” Ms Whyte said.

“Self care, sleep, fill up your cup. Be authentic and open up with your struggles, it’s a powerful tool to make change. And always be kind, everyone is walking around with damage. So be kind. Leave a positive footprint every day.”

Monica Cherry and Caro Cunningham of Ray White Cottesloe | Mosman Park were inspired by Kendall’s story.

“Kendall’s story is so powerful. We have all seen the blue trees so it was wonderful to hear more about the background and Kendall’s work in raising awareness of suicide.”

“Kendall spreads the message that ‘it’s ok to not be ok’. 

“By speaking openly and authentically, she’s helping break down the fear of judgement that stops people seeking help for mental illness,” Ms Cherry said.

More than 80 people gathered at Electra House Hotel in Adelaide’s CBD to hear from two inspirational women who have cut out their own path in real estate, having moved into the industry after other 20 year long careers. 

Ray White Group Head of Performance and Recognition Bianca Denham facilitated the discussion.

Cindy Cash, Principal of Ray White North Richmond, made the trip down to Adelaide from Sydney to impart her wisdom to the room.

Ms Cash left school at 15 and worked as a legal secretary and fitness instructor, before starting her family. She fell into real estate in a part-time capacity as a personal assistant and after 13 years of administration, she took the leap to becoming an agent.

“Once I verbalised to my boss that I wanted to be an agent, it scared the hell out of me. But I stuck with it and did everything myself and I quickly became an Elite agent,” she said.

“I learnt very quickly to put my blinkers on and tune out any negativity, and focus on my goals,”

“Women have to support women, not at the exclusion of men. I could not be where I am without the support of my male leaders and my husband. There are so many different career opportunities in real estate that can be worked around families.”

Closer to home, Melissa Bussenschutt who is the principal of Ray White Yorke Peninsula which is made up of four offices, spoke about her 20 year career as a nurse before real estate and how it helped her in the industry.

“Nursing is actually fantastic practice for real estate – customer service, communication, compassion and empathy,” she said.

“When we were approached to open our Ray White office, we started with nothing and it was a huge risk. We mortgaged our house and bit the bullet. The first couple of years were really hard. We struggled but we were enjoying it and we were happy.”

“We now have four offices and we are so glad that we took the risk and believed in ourselves.

“Real estate is actually not about real estate at all. You have to enjoy people. If you are good at that, you will be great at real estate.”

  • If you, or anyone you know is struggling with mental wellbeing or feelings of anxiety, help is available at:
    Lifeline: 13 11 14 (or lifeline.org.au)
    Beyond Blue: 1300 224 636 (or beyondblue.org.au)

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