Making their mark in a man's world

Making their mark in a man's world

SINGAPORE - Breaking into the male-dominated world of real estate is no easy feat but some women have earned their stripes in an industry where the ruggedness of bricks and mortar rules.

The Straits Times speaks to three women who have found their passion in property while happily breaking stereotypes along the way.

They talk not only about the challenges but also the satisfaction that comes with running a real estate business.

Ms Leny Suparman, chief executive of KOP Properties

Ms Suparman, 38, who has run home-grown KOP Properties since 2008, stepped out of college and straight into a job at a real estate consultancy firm.

Having grown up watching her parents invest in property, "real estate is in my blood", she says.

While a relatively new entrant in the business, KOP has been involved in high-profile projects such as the first Ritz-Carlton Residences in Asia, at Cairnhill, and Hamilton Scotts, which made headlines for the private sky garages that come with each unit.

"I love the initial concept and design development stage, making the numbers work and finding ways to enhance the property through innovative and unexpected ideas most," she adds.

"Of course when the results are great and people love it, those are the truly defining moments."

But being a woman in the real estate sector has its challenges.

Men are more cohesive and tend to bond together. This makes it harder for women to "penetrate" into that brotherhood, Ms Suparman notes.

Female developers, however, have an edge, she says, as they tend to be more sensitive to the actual function and practicality of the product and pay more attention to detail.

"The men will also tend to be more 'gentlemanly' towards women in terms of giving us more leeway which another man might not get," she adds.

"Moreover, women have less ego and so sometimes we dare to ask 'stupid' questions and will therefore learn more during the process."

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