Career View in Development Management

2nd March 2022

Junior Development Manager

Sam Johnson, Junior Development Manager at Fruition Properties, talks about her career and the need for diversity in the industry.

Sam spoke to Show House magazine this month about how she started her career in property development and what’s it like working in a male dominated industry.

How did you get started working in property development?

I completed my studies (BSc. (Hons) Property Studies) at the University of Cape Town in 2019. Shortly after, I began various internships at a number of different property development companies around Cape Town working in industrial, commercial and residential development. It didn’t take long for me to realise my passion was definitely in residential schemes and I was lucky enough to start working at Blok Urban Living, a brilliant residential property development company based in Cape Town. As project coordinator, my roles and responsibilities included site administration, programme management, quality control and design coordination, giving me a well-rounded view of the development process. It was in 2021 that I emigrated to the UK and started my journey working for Fruition Properties as junior development manager.

Tell us about your current day-to-day role?

I’m involved in all stages of the development process from project conception right through to practical completion. My day-to-day work typically includes, reviewing drawings from the design team, design development and value engineering (depending on the stage of the project), site visits to check build progress and reporting to our directors and investors. As a site progresses and we approach practical completion, quality control becomes a critical part of my role. There is a lot of pride in everything that we do and maintaining exceptional quality standards is a key pillar of the business.

What do you love about working in property?

Property, and the built environment, are a part of our everyday lives and always will be. It’s great to be involved in an industry where you can impact the functionality of a space, the wellbeing of its occupants and the interaction these occupants have with the environment and the community. The carbon footprint of the built environment, coupled with the continuous demand for housing, has led to an undeniable need for innovative and sustainable housing solutions. Fruition Properties, being acutely aware of this, are at the forefront of providing sustainable solutions to the housing shortage especially in the UK and are doing this through airspace development. The property industry is constantly full of these new areas of growth and challenges which is part of the reason I love it as much as I do.

What challenges have you overcome?

Being a woman in a male-dominated industry has its inherent challenges; from pervasive stereotypes to hindered career development opportunities. I have a constant desire to overcome these conformities and demonstrate that women can be successful in these roles. Having worked in South Africa for a few years the biggest challenges I faced daily were around safety and security, specifically on construction sites. In those situations, having a team member with you or a few site workers you could trust made a big difference.

What can we do to help attract more women into property?

It’s important that we educate young women about what development really is and overcome the misconception that construction is just limited to the physical labour of bricks and mortar. Women need to be informed within secondary and tertiary institutions, of the different roles and professions within the industry. We also need to see more role models being present on social media platforms and in the public eye, to inspire others. Women represent around 50% of the UK’s workforce, yet only account for about 13% of the built environment. It’s important that companies are aware of this and make the conscious effort to overcome this inequality. At Fruition Properties I have been fortunate enough to not only be among a 40% female representation but am led by a female COO whose leadership presence and influence is inspiring.

What would your advice be to young women considering joining the industry?

Don’t second guess yourself, do it and get stuck in! Consider the impact the property industry has on the creation of better cities for more people, and how working within residential development gives you the chance to change the landscape we live in. Aligning yourself with a company, like Fruition Properties, which values the involvement of women in construction, can help you navigate your role and work out the impact you can make going forward. It’s both a challenge and an opportunity, and incredibly fulfilling. Who wouldn’t want to get involved?