Women to the front: Real estate industry leaders share their secrets of success

At Elite Agent and the Elevate podcast, we don’t need a reason to champion the best female leaders in the real estate industry, we do it as a matter of course.  

That said, with today being International Women’s Day, we thought we’d take the opportunity to delve into the archives and take another look at the achievements of some of the best and brightest women we’ve featured in print, online and on the podcast over the past few years.

Melita Bell

For Melita Bell from RE/MAX Success Toowoomba, selling real estate became the driver to move beyond some of her own struggles, and in doing so set about conquering them. 

In this 2017 interview, Melita talked about the challenges of juggling a busy career with being a mother and the ethos she applies to her work: purpose comes first, people come next. She also discussed the importance of honesty and authenticity. 

“Be honest,” Melinda said. “Don’t fluff things around; just be honest to your clients, be honest to yourself and just don’t lie. Be humble. There’s no point in lying, it gets you into trouble. I always say, ‘You can remember a truth, but you can’t remember a lie’.”

Stefanie Dobro

When Elite Agent caught up with Stefanie Dobro ahead of the The Business of Real Estate conference in 2018, she spoke about the importance of teamwork and how fostering healthy team culture makes you a better leader.  

“Leaders need to have a vision and be approachable, ready to listen and understand where others are coming from,” Stefanie said.

According to Stefanie, leaders who are approachable and focus on helping people grow “will have the best company cultures and experience business growth and success”.

Leanne Druery

Leanne Druery was a relative latecomer to real estate, joining the industry when she was 40, but she has applied her wisdom to quickly make a positive difference. 

In this episode of the Elevate podcast, Leanne talked about her start in the industry, her success and how she fought back following personal tragedy. 

She also discussed what she had been up to since she won Transform 2017, including how she came through a tough Mackay market to be named the city’s No 1 agent; her must-haves for listing presentations; how small changes can lead to big results and why maintaining your mental health is vital. 

The First Ladies of First National Byron Bay

Over three decades, First National Real Estate Byron Bay has grown to become not only the leading agency in the region, but First National’s leading agency in Australasia.

Contributing to this stellar reputation is a team of high-performing agents, four of whom happen to be women, each achieving remarkable results. 

Cassandra Charlesworth caught up with Su Reynolds, Tara Torkkola, Helene Adams and Helen Huntly-Barratt for this 2018 feature article

Hannah Gill

Last year, Independent Property Management’s Hannah Gill was named one of the five Telstra Business Women of the Year in the Australian Capital Territory. 

Hannah joined Independent at the age of 21 and rose to the position of Managing Director of Property Management. She now guides a team of 62 and is regarded as a specialist in rent roll growth, leadership, client experience, innovation and best practice.

In this piece for Elite Agent in January, Hannah discussed the importance of collaboration 

“Industry-wide, we need to acknowledge that we don’t need to reinvent the wheel each time we look to implement business improvements,” she said. 

“If we can learn from others who have tried, failed, and succeeded, there’s little value in engaging in the same process to achieve the same results.”

Megan Jaffe

Megan Jaffe, Principal of Ray White Remuera, in Auckland, New Zealand, has established herself as one of the most successful operators in the business.

Ahead of her keynote at AREC 2018, Megan told Elite Agent why success comes down to genuine human connection and always having the client’s interests at heart.

“I have an extremely clear vision for the company: To be the agency of choice, working with like-minded salespeople to deliver service excellence to our customers to the best of our ability,” she said. 

“Our company values are so simple: to have the client’s interests at heart, first and foremost, and to deliver service excellence to every person who comes into our realm.” 

Ellayne Lim

Ellayne Lim, of LITTLE Real Estate in Victoria, has mastered the art of organisation, fairness and communication to a point where her Net Promoter Scores® for both owners and tenants are on par with some of the world’s most-admired companies.

When Elite Agent caught up with Ellayne for this chat in early 2019, she had been in property management for seven-and-a-half-years, all with the same employer.

Some of the advice she offered new property managers included trying not to take things too personally and ensuring you remember to have some good old-fashioned patience.

“It does take a long time to build trust and relationships, but you’ve got to hang in there – it will get easier,” Ellayne said.

Kylie Maxwell

In this feature from August 2018, Kylie Maxwell shared what she has discovered on her journey from the reception desk to her current position as a business owner and industry leader.

Kylie now has more than 25 years’ experience in property management and is the Director and franchise owner of LJ Hooker Queanbeyan, Kylie shared some of the top lessons she has learnt as a self-taught leader: “It’s not about the glory”; “You need to let your team fall”; “Not everyone is going to like you; “It’s your ship and you need to step up and steer it”; and “You need to bring the energy”.

Tameka Smith

Award-winning real estate professional Tameka Smith has signed more than 500 managements to her boutique agency Keys2 Property in a period of less than four years.  

In this episode of the Elevate Podcast, Tameka discussed the secrets to Key2 Property’s success; her ideal client avatar and how that defines marketing strategy and decisions; her recruitments strategy; how working hands-on with staff and clients can help business growth; how to future-proof your business from disruptors; and why giving back is so important. 

Kate Strickland

A director of Marshall White Brighton, Kate Strickland is an accomplished real estate professional and is widely regarded as an industry thought leader.

She is passionate about driving change to promote positive wellbeing and strives to ensure her approach to business and life parallels with this principle. 

In this piece from February 2019, she explained that if you are working harder for less reward, the risk of burnout increases, and offered some tips on how to better maintain balance.

Branka Stankovic

In 1996, Branka Stankovic flew from war-torn Bosnia to Australia as a refugee with little more than her courage and a will to succeed. And succeed she did – in 2018, the Novak Properties Head of Property Management was named Property Manager of the Year at the Annual REA Excellence Awards.  

In this interview, Branka discussed how her never-give-up attitude has helped her triumph in the industry but despite her success, she was still quick to give credit to her colleagues.

“I wouldn’t be able to achieve anything without my team,” she said. “Our focus has always and will always be on cooperation and customer service.”

Emmy Thies

Principal of House Estate Agents in Toowoomba, Emmy Thies, opened her own office at age 23 with her husband Tye, and five years later, when Elite Agent spoke with her for this interview, it had developed into a thriving business with 25 staff members.

“No one held my hand and said, ‘this is what you’re going to do’, or ‘this is how you’ve got to do it,’” Emmy said.

“You’ve just got to go and attract the right people with the right mindset. And work for it, just freaking work for it!”  

Lisa Totaro 

When Lisa Totaro first took a job in real estate fresh out of high school, she knew sales was where she wanted to be.

Eight years after becoming an agent, Lisa had already been named one of the top 10 agents in the country by SQM Research.

In this interview from April 2019, the Property Consultant from YPA in Sunbury credited part of her success to her work ethic and time-management skills.

“I have a very strict work ethic,” Lisa said.

“I believe we all have the same amount of time in the day, but it’s what you do with it that separates you from the rest.”

Sonya Treloar

Sonya Treloar of Ray White Ascot has won numerous awards during her time in the industry – including No 1 Salesperson in the Ray White Brisbane Metro Area – and is consistently ranked in Ray White’s Top 10 performers in Queensland.

In this interview, Sonya shared some tips on prospecting, branding, keeping a constant pipeline and attracting overseas buyers.

“I believe our job as real estate agents is to represent our sellers in the best way we can and to tap into every portal, whatever medium that is, to showcase their homes so everyone sees their property.”

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Daniel Johnson

Daniel Johnson was the news editor for Elite Agent. He worked with the company from February 2020 to June 2020. For current stories, news alerts or pitches, please email