family run business

Alexandra Morris, Managing Director of PropTech company MakeUrMove, comments on her experience of growing a business in a male-dominated industry.

I have worked in the industry for over 12 years, and was the first ever employee at MakeUrMove, having now been with the business for ten years.

I worked my way up the ranks from Customer Service Advisor to Operations Director and finally Managing Director in June 2017.

While competitors have struggled with the challenging housing market, MakeUrMove has thrived, with the company growing by 20 percent in the last 12 months, making it the fifth fastest growing letting agent in the UK.

Despite all that, there have been a number of challenges along the way. My experience has emphasised to me that it is definitely still a male-dominated world. Whether it’s being on the board as CTO or CEO, or the people who actually invest in business, there is a severe lack of women in the property and technology industry.

I have sat on boards as the only woman and have worked with senior teams in businesses that are dominated by men. When building my own team, I have taken a balanced view and I am proud to say that my senior team has a female majority… because they deserve to be there. I would love to see more equality reflected across businesses elsewhere too.

More also needs to be done to ensure the world of tech is more appealing and welcoming for women, particularly with research showing that women are more than twice as likely to quit the tech industry than men.

So why are women being deterred from the tech industry? It all comes down to the increasingly evident gender gap. From my own experience, I have had numerous instances where I have found myself not being taken as seriously as my male colleagues, despite the fact that I hold the most senior post as the managing director in a national PropTech company. This has arisen in all types of situations when seeking business partnerships and even when pitching to clients. It doesn’t seem to matter that I am offering significant savings and demonstrating a level of expertise that would be hard to beat.

Similarly, something which isn’t talked about as much in the media is ageism. For me, it’s not just been about being a woman, but I have also found my age has played a big part in how I am treated. As I became a managing director at 33 years old, and started out as the youngest member of the board, again, I wouldn’t be as treated as professionally as my colleagues.

I’m sure I’m not alone in my experiences and my number one bit of advice to any women who finds themselves battling to be heard is not to be intimidated to have the confidence that what you have to say holds as much value as the men in the room. You deserve to be there alongside other members, if you want equality you will have to speak up and take it.

Navigating the business world as a woman is no mean feat with sexism, and even ageism, still rife. However, this hasn’t held me back from leading MakeUrMove to where it is today.

The property and tech industries are ever changing and evolving markets. My strategy with the business has been focused on taking a considered approach and ensuring a gradual, rather than rapid, scale up. This has allowed us to monitor, improve and develop the platform and service to continually innovate and deliver for our clients and users.

As the business started out in a time of uncertainty in the heart of the recession, it was difficult to gain investment. I now see many heralded as being hugely successful simply for having secured funding. Businesses that spring up, secure huge investment on the back of big promises, often seem to fail not long after. To me, the measure of success is in the sustainability of a business and the benefit they bring to consumers. We’ve grown gradually over the years in a way that means we’re now well placed to thrive despite the market challenges.

About the author

Alexandra Morris is the managing director of MakeUrMove, an innovative technology platform, built to remove costs associated with the process of letting private rental properties.