I am Cathy Gould, a property management surveyor at BNP Paribas Real Estate in Birmingham.
I have over 10 years experience in commercial property, having worked on properties throughout the west midlands and also on large national portfolios. I have advised on a wide range of properties both as managing agent and client side.
What did you want to be growing up?
Growing up I wanted to be an English Teacher. I’ve always enjoyed the subject and wanted to inspire kids to enjoy literature – and teach them good grammar as bad grammar is a pet hate of mine! However, I did work experience in two different schools (one was infant school and the other senior school) and I quickly realised I did not have the patience for that at all.
What is your proudest moment?
Without a doubt my graduation from UCEM. Having studied for 4 years whilst working full time, that moment on stage collecting my certificate will stay with me forever. It was finally a reward for all the hard work I’d put in, the times I’d missed out on things and the times I’d doubted whether I could do it. It was a hard, long 4 years but knowing my parents, my brother and my fiancé were watching me graduate and were proud of me too made it a really special moment for me.
Is there a part of your career you wish you could have another chance at?
Not so much have another chance at, but I wish I had started Uni sooner. I’d been working in property for quite some time when I was encouraged to take it further. A new Asset Manager came into the team and encouraged me to take a leap and I haven’t looked back since.
What gadget can you not live without?
My phone. It’s an obvious choice, I know, but I honestly don’t know how I’d function without it. How did I used to remember phone numbers? Or birthdays? It’s all in my phone these days!
What’s your favourite book and why?
Wuthering Heights. I first encountered it in an English class in senior school but as we were studying it I felt like I’d missed the story in between all the analysing and looking past the actual words, so I read it again when I left school. Since then I’d say I read it at least once every couple of years. It’s so dark and mysterious but also so passionate. And I love how strong willed and independent Cathy is – even in an era when women were expected to marry for money and put up with their lot. I guess her character has always spoken to me. I see myself in her – I’m never one to put up and shut up!!
What’s your mindset anthem – the song that is always guaranteed to pump you up?
Anything by The Foo Fighters or Florence and The Machine.
What has driven your passion for diversity in your industry / sector?
I’ve always felt like surveying is a bit of an old boys club so I’ve always wanted to break from that and prove I’m just as capable. When I was first starting out in the industry I didn’t really have many women role models, all the surveyors in the firms I started in were men. So now I’m at a point in my career that I can, hopefully, help the more junior surveyors at the start of their career to realise that they are just as good as the men too.
What’s the best professional advice you’ve ever been given?
A long time ago, in my first ever job (not in property), my boss told me that if I came to a brick wall – I needed to find a ladder. At the time I had no idea what he meant. But eventually I realised that he meant there is always a solution – you just need to find it. Its advice that stayed with me for some reason and I find it comes in handy in my personal life as well as professional one.
What tips do you have for managing your inbox?
Don’t put pressure on yourself to respond immediately! Once upon a time everything went in the post and would take days, sometimes weeks to get a response. Nowadays everyone expects immediate responses because we can all fire off emails that are delivered immediately. If it’s that important that it needs an immediate response – pick up the phone!
What keeps you awake at night?
Ironically after that last question……my inbox!!
Please tell us a little bit about your company and the work you do as a property management surveyor.
I am a property management surveyor for a corporate firm, based at their Birmingham office. I manage the day to day running of sites from Skegness to Weymouth, Norwich to Cardiff and just about everywhere in between so there’s a lot of time spent driving to site. But I’m lucky to be involved in a contract which is mainly development land so there’s lots of fresh air when carrying out site inspections – which is great in the summer but not so much in the freezing cold!
What is your advice to other women in your position?
Believe in yourself, have faith in your decisions and don’t be afraid to ask questions. There’s no such thing as a silly question and you’re just as capable as your male counterparts!
How has the industry/sector changed during your career?
I think there is definitely a change going on today. Women are championing each other, supporting each other and speaking out against prejudices. Gone are the days when it was assumed that the women in the office were all admin staff – now you’re just as likely to fine men in admin roles as well as women at the top of the ladder.
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