More could be done to help women get top jobs, says Suffolk property agent

Worried woman working at home and holding her crying little son. Young mother on maternity leave try

More could be done to help women secure top jobs in estate agency - particularly after having children, says Katy Stephenson - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Estate agency has changed a lot for women over the past ten years and Katy Stephenson, associate director and negotiator at Savills in Suffolk, is living proof. 

She studied English and history at university before working for the National Trust, where she was responsible for the marketing of 25 properties across the East of England. After marrying an architect, she became even more interested in property and decided to take the leap into estate agency. Since then, she says she’s never looked back. 

“I started out as an administrator and have been promoted over the years to a fee earning associate director,” she says. She specialises in selling all types of property in Bury St Edmunds and the surrounding areas, from cottages and town houses to farm and country houses. 

Katy Stephenson, associate director within the residential sales team at Savills in Suffolk

Katy Stephenson, associate director within the residential sales team at Savills in Suffolk - Credit: Richard Marsham

Despite her own personal success, she believes more could be done to help women get into top level jobs. “In order for that to happen, the industry has to focus on encouraging women back to work after maternity leave, if they choose to have a family. Women who are mothers need to have flexible working hours and to continue to develop their careers alongside their colleagues and not be left behind.” 

Like many, Katy says she’s had a number of challenges over the past 16 years, including managing her work/life balance which, she says “at times I haven’t done very well.”  

In January 2021, Katy was diagnosed with Stage 1 ovarian cancer, which created another challenge. “I had to take nine months off work while I underwent an operation and treatment,” she explains.

“Savills was unbelievably supportive during this difficult period and I am now fully recovered.” In fact, Katy says that going back to work helped. “It enabled me to regain a part of myself that had been taken away. I have to watch my energy levels, but I am loving being back.”

Happy couple buying new home and receiving house keys form real estate agent.

Women facilitate and negotiate in all areas of their life and therefore are well placed to facilitate and negotiate the sale of a property, says Katy - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Katy believes that the sector is a great place for women – and not just in their early careers but later in life, too. “Women facilitate and negotiate in all areas of their life and therefore are well placed to facilitate and negotiate the sale of a property,” she says. “They are good listeners, brilliant communicators, fantastic multi-taskers and work very well under pressure.” 

To those just starting out in the industry, Katy says: “Ask as many questions as you can, never think you know it all and have a clear vision of what you want to achieve.”  

Maintaining a good work/life balance is important, she says, as it “energises your work life” – but, most importantly, enjoy what you do.

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