18th May 2019
As part of Show House‘s Diversity special, Monica Khiroya our Product and Marketing director discussed various elements of her role. Including the finished product, her ‘Returnship’, working with technical team and of course, some insight for those aspiring for a career in product marketing.
Please tell us a little about yourself and what your role entails
I’ve been at Fruition Properties since it started and have lived in London all my life, even going to university here.
I oversee the marketing team, while also being responsible for how all our developments look, both inside and out – from the rendering on the walls to the smallest interior details and furnishings. It’s an exciting, varied role with a significant commercial aspect – I’ve always loved a good deal.
As we’re a fast-growing company, I also have some business management responsibilities. We’re a small team and work really well together, so it’s often all hands-on deck on various projects and deadlines.
What education and career path brought you here?
I studied economics and history at UCL, very different to what I do day to day but there’s still parts of my degree that are still relevant. After graduating, I worked in the head office at Miss Selfridge and then moved into digital marketing. The internet was still quite new, and we all relied on a dial up to browse – how times have changed. After having my first child I took a short career break and then started at Fruition – I was the fourth person to be employed. I know lots of companies now are promoting ‘returnships’ for parents returning for work but Mani, the CEO, was seemingly ahead of the curve. He’s always been supportive of championing women in the workplace and me transfer my skills, knowledge and experience.
I started in a part time marketing role and over the next 18 months I worked a four-day week, which I still do now. I started managing all the rental properties and as the business grew, I moved into product and interiors.
It’s an area I’ve always been passionate about so was thrilled when I could finally indulge in this. We have a combination of in-house design and specifications as well as outsourcing some aspects to an external designer. There are benefits to both approaches and we combine them to deliver great homes, which are always well received and appreciated by our buyers.
Are there aspects of your job you find particularly satisfying?
I love seeing the fruits of our labour come to life. Whether it’s a completed project, a particular show flat or a new brochure, seeing the end product makes it all worth it. We spend so much time on details it’s nice to take a step back and appreciate the full picture.
It’s always great to receive compliments from happy customers, particularly on kitchens and bathrooms. I once spent hours debating the finish of a kitchen work top and once the customer moved in, I received a note saying how much they loved the kitchen particularly the finish, which was lovely.
I always thing of our customers and how a space will be used when designing or commenting on layouts or finishes. For us, functionality is just as important as style. I also love working with my team; we all have very different visions and work collaboratively to get the best outcome for our customers.
What other roles, inside and outside your company do you work closely with?
From an internal point of view the development and technical teams as well as sales. Externally, I deal with suppliers, procurement managers, technical managers, site managers and architects. Dealing with so many other roles helps to give you a holistic view of development in general – which, in my opinion, results in a better end product.
Are there any roles on or off site that you especially admire?
I’ve always admired architects – their vision and the ability to see how spaces work is incredible. To have that initial foresight is quite an art.
Is there a way to attract the right quality and quantity of people in your profession into jobs in this industry?
We are a dynamic, design-led developer so it’s imperative that we portray ourselves in that way in everything we do, which in turn helps to attract the right talent with a similar mindset. We are extremely proud of the fact we have a large number of females in the team, so publicising this regularly helps to attract and encourage a more diverse workforce. Education from a younger age is also important because there is a historic tendency to just associate property with bricks and mortar; the reality is there a huge number of varied roles that all play their part in creating a successful development business.
What careers advise do you have for young people considering a role in product design and marketing?
Work experience is always invaluable, perhaps even more important that what you study. When hiring, I always look for some real-life experience and a positive, can do attitude because work should be fun and rewarding.
I’d also advise young people to take an interest in what is going on culturally, not just in interiors but in fashion, art and design. It’s incredible how often they intersect and being well-read and aware will always put you in good stead.
Lastly, I’d say ask questions and learn from those around you. I started off in a retail head office and it’s incredible how much I picked up that I still use today.