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Women in Real Estate: Monika Wakulska, Senior Consultant Poland

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As part of a series of interviews highlighting the powerful work of our female employees, we’ve interviewed female employees from across our organisation, from the different countries where we work and from a variety of positions. We interviewed them to find out about how they got into the company, where they’re heading in their careers and to talk a little about what success means to them.

Can you tell us a bit about your role?

I’m a senior consultant in the Office Agency in Warsaw. Here, I represent individual clients but also act on behalf of the owners of office properties. Such a broad spectrum of activity allows me to understand the needs and rules that appear on both sides of the transaction, which, in my opinion has a very positive effect on my work.

Why did you chose a career in the real estate sector and specifically working for BNP Paribas Real Estate?

The real estate industry is a very dynamic one, especially working within an agency. There is no time for boredom, I am constantly developing myself, meeting inspiring people from whom I learn a lot.

A chance to work in BNP Paribas Real Estate appeared unexpectedly. Previously, I saw myself as a Property Manager, but I am a person who always takes advantage of opportunities and so I accepted the job and I certainly don’t regret this decision.

Can you tell us about your career path?

My adventure with commercial real estate began in 2005 when I started working for an ICT company providing technical services to buildings. I was responsible for the customer service department and had a chance to work with landlords, property managers, suppliers and tenants. I worked there for over eight years, in the meantime completing postgraduate studies in real estate management and obtaining a property manager's license.

When I joined BNP Paribas Real Estate I was essentially restarting my career as I was going into a new sector and had to learn everything from the very beginning. It was a very difficult decision for me at the time but I knew it was where I wanted to be

Monika Wakulska
Monika Wakulska

How long have you worked for BNP Paribas Real Estate? Has your role evolved in the time you’ve been here?

I have been working at BNP for almost 3.5 years now. At the beginning I was a consultant responsible only for a tenant representation. After less than a year I received an offer to also work on landlord's transactions – which I accepted. I am of the opinion that if life gives us opportunities to develop our skills and expand our knowledge, we cannot pass them by indifferently. After 2.5 years I become a senior consultant and after beginning with managing just one building, I now look after four, which feels like a great achievement for me.

I really don’t feel that as a woman within BNP Paribas Real Estate my job has been made any more difficult. Within the real estate sector, we can most definitely see that it is predominantly a man’s world, which is something I am actively trying to change.

Currently in Warsaw, the real estate sector is rapidly changing so it is very attractive to employees, and we can see that more and more women are coming into the sector. It’s not perfect and we still need time, particularly with regards to seeing women in management positions. I hope this will change in a few years.

I would say to women who might feel put off by coming into a more male dominated sector, to not give up, if it’s something you want to do, don’t think about others and just believe in yourself and your skills.

What is the most challenging thing about your job?

This is a very difficult question. There are so many things I could mention, like time pressure, and multitasking. My job consists of many different elements, so as an agent I have to be a researcher, lawyer, analyst and have a technical knowledge, all at the same time.

I often face situations where, to bring the project to an end, we have to meet the different expectations of many different parties. It means we must often think outside the box and this requires us to have a lot of patience.

What is the most rewarding?

Definitely the satisfaction of our clients, and the fact that they keep coming back to us. That shows me that the effort we put into our job is worth it.

Another aspect is that you need to stay very much up to date within the sector and across other markets, which is great because I wouldn’t want to have a job where there was nothing new for me to learn. It’s a very dynamic job where you are often rushing around between meetings but this is something that I actively sought out in my job and I am very happy about.

What has been the most important thing you’ve learnt whilst working at BNP Paribas Real Estate?

To have a plan B – this is absolutely essential. Even when we think that we have everything under control, and that we have everything precisely planned, within one day all this can change requiring us to instigate a new action plan.

What are you most proud of achieving in your career?

I think building lasting relationships with the clients. In our job we need to think long-term. Even now, I have relationships with clients that I met in previous jobs, many years ago. Building trust and giving them the knowledge that they can always count on me and I will do my best to help them, makes them come back. The market is difficult, competition is big, so I have a very simple rule - treat your clients the way that you would like to be treated. For me, this is the key to success in our industry.

What are your professional aims within your job at BNP Paribas Real Estate?

To continually develop my skills, and keep broadening my knowledge and contacts.

At the moment I am striving to become an Associate Director within the next year because I know for sure that I want to stay in the real estate sector as it brings me a lot of joy and satisfaction, so I would like to progress within the sector.

In addition, an important goal of mine is to promote the Ladies First association that I am involved with. As the real estate sector is still mostly dominated by men, there are still reasons why women are put off by it. Together with Kasia Pyś-Fabiańczyk – (Head of Industrial & Logistics Department for Central and Eastern Europe at BNP Paribas Real Estate and president and founder of Ladies First) and several colleagues from my department, we are trying to promote this initiative throughout our branches in Europe.

Ladies First is the first networking platform in Poland that brings together managers in industry, logistics, real estate and other key industries. The basis of our work is the integration of women's professional environment, the exchange of knowledge, experience and information, as well as supporting the professional and personal development of women. By promoting good practices and active communication activities, we generate business cooperation and strengthen the image of women as experts.

We officially started the company in 2016, it was a complicated process and it took a long time but we are incredibly proud of the events, conference and workshops that we now hold to help educate, inform and share information. Going through the process has taught us a lot and we now want to help support others with setting up their own groups, as we know what a success an initiative like this can be.

What advice would you give to someone looking to start a career similar to yours?

I would say to take advantage of the opportunities that come their way and ensure that they are constantly learning from them. In our industry, lack of development is a step back. But above all, I would say that they should take pleasure in what they do. Their satisfaction and positive emotions will affect the quality of their work and this will translate into the satisfaction of their customers.

Which powerful women do you most admire?

I was thinking about this for a long time, I thought about influential famous women from history and then I came to the realisation that the most powerful woman I know is my mum. She was truly an incredible woman, so full of energy and positivity.  She taught me a very simple, but very important lesson, which I still follow today and which I can apply not only in my professional but also private life. I remember how she always said to me, “focus on solving the problem and what you can do, instead of focusing on the problem.” So simple and yet so true. In my job I currently mentor a more junior member of staff and it is certainly a piece of advice that I have passed on to them too.

What does success mean to you?

Contrary to appearances, it is not only money and climbing the career ladder, it's something much more intangible. For me success means internal harmony and a balance between a successful private life and the ability to enjoy today and what we have.