No glass ceiling for female real estate agent

Traditionally, Cambodian women have worked in the home, however this custom is quickly changing. As Cambodia moves towards a more liberal job market, men and women are now being offered the same job opportunities. Ann Thida, Senior Associate Director, CBRE sits down with Post Property to discuss women in the workplace and her experience in the Cambodian real estate sector.

In Cambodian society, most women work in the home. What do you think about this?
Historically, Cambodia’s women were required to care for the needs of their families. In a growing market with improved employment prospects and literacy rates amongst men and women, opportunities for career progression have become more equal and less segregated. Improved support from wider family members has allowed women to work outside the home. The closing social divide has allowed women to become integral members of successful organisations, and in many cases, key decision makers. 

Men generally hold high positions in the real estate sector, is this something women can do?
Of course. Today women can receive the same education as men, and as a result, women are able to work in higher positions as men do. As I see it, there are many women working in the real estate sector. Overall, it is based on the person’s capacity and ability, rather than gender.

How important are women in the real estate sector?
In any organization, not just real estate, the key to a successful team is achieving balance between men and women. With an equal mix, a team will be more efficient in their co-ordination and provide successful services. Women play a vital role because they are good at forming relationships with people or investors.

Why did you decide to jump into the real estate industry?
I have over 16 years’ experience in business, having previously worked in the logistics sector as an accountant. As an accountant, I have a thorough understanding of business regulation, legislation, and the economic stability of Cambodia.

I recognised the frontier market in which we operatethat presents great opportunities for the real estate sector. As such, I targeted this sector to apply my accounting knowledge and gain experience in real estate. Within the last five years, I have broadened my market knowledge, and have consulted on a number of Cambodia’s largest, and most formidable projects working with both domestic and international clients.It has seen me progress from manager to Senior Associate Director.

What challenges have you faced in the real estate sector?
While Cambodia’s government adopts fairly liberal investment policies, from an international perspective investment in Cambodia is largely different to what investors are accustomed to. One of the main challenges is educating our regional clients on the structure and possible challenges that they may face when investing in Cambodia, and how to overcome these successfully. Cambodia historically lacks transparency with the lack of accurate and available data posing many challenges, particularly when educating and advising international clients to accept local market practice.

What have you achieved so far?
Since joining CBRE, I have successfully grown my Cambodian team to 25 staff. With the assistance of my team, I have achieved the largest market share of any real estate company in Cambodia, and have maintained CBRE’s position as the market leader. We have provided marketing, valuation, research & consultancy, and property management services to most of Cambodia’s largest and most formidable real estate projects, including Phnom Penh Tower, Hongkong Land, Parkson, Vattanac Capital, DeCastle Royal, Axis Residence, Song Saa, OCIC, Alila, KohRong, GT Tower, Sovann Condominium, Sokimex and ING Group, to name a few.

Since starting working in this industry, how has real estate developed?
Cambodia’s stable economy and consistent year on year GDP growth has promoted wide scale development across all real estate sectors. The residential sector has achieved the greatest development in recent years, moving primarily from borey developments, to include successful condominium developments such as DeCastle Royal and Oxley’s ‘The Bridge’. Of particular note is the improvement of development quality. The overall quality of construction has improved, and also the quality of building management.Office developments now recognise the requirement of larger international tenants and as such The Phnom Penh Tower and GT Tower have chosen to appoint CBRE as their property managers.

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