The past decade has witnessed a significant rise in women’s contribution to various sectors of the Indian economy. From biotechnology and space science technology to finance and entrepreneurship, women have stormed the traditional bastions of industries and have revolutionized the way business is done. Interestingly, women have also carved a niche for themselves in the real estate market, which has conventionally been a male-dominated industry.
With a multi-faceted approach, compassion, assertiveness and qualities of empathy and persistence, women in real estate domains tend to bring a more balanced outlook into varied segments of the unorganized market. This is one of the major reasons why female potential is now being recognised across the Indian and the world’s real estate and construction sector.
So, on this International Women’s Day, we wish to introduce you to some of the most versatile and well-revered Indian women who have etched their names in the real estate industry of India.
1. Reeza Sebastian Karimpanal
President, Residential Business, The Embassy Group
For those of you who keenly follow real estate news, you must be aware that Embassy Office Parks, a division of the leading Embassy Group, is India’s 1st listed REIT. But did you know that this highly reputed real estate development firm has achieved tremendous success from the strategic decisions taken by one of the few women in the real estate sector, Reeza Sebastian Karimpanal?
A MBA in Marketing and Human Resource graduate from the premier Christ University (Bengaluru), Reeza has been working with the group for over 15 years. With her strong expertise in Brand Management and excellent marketing, project management and business development competencies, she has positioned the Embassy Group’s residential division among the highly credible verticals of the industry. In 2018, she was also bestowed with the ‘Women Super Achiever in Real Estate Sector’ by Times Business Awards for her exceptional work and experience.
2. Shveta Jain
Head & Managing Director, Residential Services (Delhi-NCR), Savills India
A Masters in Russian Literature (Moscow State University and Delhi University) degree holder, Shveta Jain has a rich experience of over 20 years in handling and overseeing Residential real estate verticals.
As one of the initial members of Cushman & Wakefield, a global commercial real estate services firm, she contributed significantly in establishing a successful residential business (started with Delhi) line in India. Not only was she able to gain in-depth knowledge of Delhi’s real estate market, but she also defined and implemented a large number of disposition or acquisition strategies for HNIs and corporates.
In her capacity as the Head and Managing Director at Savills India, she’s responsible for identifying key growth areas in the residential sector (Delhi-NCR), developing an expansion model for the clients, and enhancing service delivery levels pan-India. With a diverse experience across operations, business development and customer satisfaction, Shveta Jain has etched her name as one of the leading women in real estate.
3. Manju Yagnik
Vice Chairperson, Nahar Group
Recognized as one of the stalwart women in real estate, Mrs. Manju Yagnik has changed the perception held around the sector with her exceptional understanding of consumer behavior, marketing skills and strategic initiatives. Nahar Group, a 48-year old real estate development company had already built a stronghold in Mumbai’s real estate market. However, it was the contribution made in the group’s magnificent township project, Nahar’s Amrit Shakti, that gave Mrs. Yagnik an international recognition. Not only does the project have state-of-the-art infrastructure, but also houses an international school, a medical and business center, supermarket, shopping avenue, and a clubhouse.
Owing to her in-depth knowledge and experience in the industry, Mrs. Yagnik is currently the Sr. Vice President of NAREDCO West Foundation and a member of institutions such as CREDAI-MCHI, FICCI and RICS.
4. Kruti Kumar Jain
Executive Director, Kumar Builders
When most of the students would go on a vacation to exotic locations, Kruti Kumar Jain, right from eighth standard, went to her father’s office to familiarize herself with the nuances of the real estate industry. After completing her graduation, Kruti joined Kumar Builders (KUL), a 5-decade old real estate company (spanning Pune, Mumbai and Bengaluru market), as an Executive Director.
Ms. Kruti’s work and ideas, which ushered a new wave of transformation for the KUL, has been recognized across the industry. For which, she has been bestowed with the Youngest Entrepreneur Award at Top Management Consortium (TMC) and an Award of Excellence in 2004–2005. Not only is Kruti Jain one of the youngest women in real estate, but she has also conducted an array of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) projects to facilitate a healthy work environment.
5. Annu Talreja (CEO) & Priyanka Gera (COO)
Oxfordcaps Student Residences
Co-founded by Annu Talreja (INSEAD graduate) and Priyanka Gera (IIM-Calcutta alumni), Oxfordcaps is Asia’s first technology-backed student housing company. Started with just 50 beds in Singapore in 2017, the company now manages 500 bed accommodations housing students from top-notch universities like the National University of Singapore and INSEAD Business School.
In 2018, Oxfordcaps forayed into the Indian market and has now spread its wings across education hubs such as Delhi, Bengaluru, Pune, Greater Noida, and Ahmedabad. Just like other women in real estate, Annu Talreja and Priyanka Gera offered a more definite and structured approach to provide well-maintained and flexible accommodations to students, a problem that plagues millions of scholars across Asia-Pacific.
6. Kanika Gupta Shori
Chief Operating Officer, Square Yards
A CFA Level 2 candidate and an alumna of the prestigious Wharton Business School, Kanika Shori Gupta is the co-founder & COO of Square Yards, India’s largest real estate brokerage and mortgage marketplace.
With over 11 years of experience in asset management, entertainment, and entrepreneurial ventures, Mrs. Kanika has played a pivotal role in laying the foundation for Square Yards in terms of early execution. As an NRI couple living in Hong Kong, Kanika and Square Yards CEO, Mr. Tanuj Shori, faced some hurdles due to the largely unorganized processes followed in the Indian real estate sector. To offer an unbiased real estate advisory firm that caters to the needs of buyers and sellers, alike, Square Yards was born in 2013.
7 years since its inception, the platform has achieved significant scale and is now counted amongst one of the most coveted proptech consultancies in the world. Mrs. Kanika is not only one of the most revered women in the real estate sector, but she’s a highly versatile dancer and a certified Scuba Diver!
7. E. Jayashree Kurup
Head, Content and Research, Magicbricks.com
When we discuss the role of women in real estate, it’s not only limited to heading consultancies and real estate development arms. One can also find them across domains such as journalism, mutual funds, research, and content. E. Jayashree Kurup is one such prominent figure who is well-versed with the nuances of real estate, infrastructure, and city management industries.
While working with Insignia Brooke, a global property consultancy, she not only analyzed the real estate industry of India, but conducted exhaustive research on the markets of China, Thailand, the Philippines, and Japan. Currently, she’s heading the research and content division at Magicbricks—a platform for property buyers and sellers—where she also supervised programs such as PropIndex-India’s Apartment Index and Housing Sentiment Index.
8. Nirupa Shankar
Executive Director, Brigade Group
Since its incorporation in 1986 in Bengaluru, the Brigade Group has become one of South India’s leading property management and development companies. While the board of directors at the Brigade Group is being led by a group of individuals who hold solid expertise in the real estate industry, there is one name that stands tall-Nirupa Shankar.
Although there are 3 women directors out of 10 in the board, Nirupa Shankar, in particular, has contributed tremendously towards the growth of the company. Holding a graduate degree in Economics and a Masters in Hospitality, she got inducted into the group’s hospitality division in 2009 as a Management Trainee. In this role, she worked with the ground and front line staff to understand the challenges their hospitality portfolio (lifestyle clubs, convention centres and serviced apartments) faced.
Over the course of years, Nirupa Shankar moved on to become the Executive Director. Today, she oversees various verticals of the company spanning hospitality, retail, office space, human resources, and public relations.
9. Gunjan Goel
Director, Media & Marketing Communications, Goel Ganga Developments
With a rich legacy of over 38 years, Goel Ganga Developments have established a strong presence in Pune’s real estate market. The company is driven by their values of delivering innovative, efficient and spectacular commercial and residential projects that drive economic development and also address environmental needs.
Today, the Media and Marketing department of this coveted group is being led by Gunjan Goel, one of the prominent women in the real estate sector. The knowledge she garnered from the Design and Management degree that she pursued from Parsons in New York, has helped position the Goel Ganga brand in the Indian real estate sector.
In an interview with Realty Plus Magazine, she expressed how a woman, who has an innate nurturing quality, is able to create the strong ecosystems required for the growth of the real estate industry. This is precisely what brought a stronger sense of design development to the company. Gunjan has bagged the title of “Top Young Achiever” by the Times West India and has also held the position of Chairperson for Young Indians (CII Subsidiary) in 2019-2020.
10. Darshana Parmar Jain
Deputy Managing Director, Ishwar Parmar Group
Holding a master’s degree in Software Systems and with 12 years of experience in information technology, Ms. Darshana Parmar Jain has played a significant role in transforming the Ishwar Parmar Group—well-respected developer in Pune’s real estate industry. She has been bestowed with many accolades and was also the first-ever woman to be elected on the executive committee of CREDAI National. Apart from this, she was also the founder chief patron of Jain International Trade Organization (JITO) and Vice-President of Jain International Women Organizations.
Earlier, women working in the real estate sector were confined to only mid-management roles. However, these female figures along with hundreds of others, who have smashed gender stereotypes to contribute significantly in an unconventional yet thriving field are a testament to changing times. Now, women in real estate are not only heading important divisions of global consultancy and proptech firms but are also working independently as agents and brokers.
While the mushrooming ‘gender-neutral workplace’ culture is one aspect, the influx of foreign companies into the Indian real estate market is another reason for the large-scale acceptance of women in this sector. With the industry moving towards becoming an organized domain, we need to see more female personalities taking on management and leadership roles across verticals.