The Power Women Of London: Part 1
The women building London are risk-takers and market-makers; they’re architects, developers, financiers and others who are creating the London skyline every day. We talked with two amazing women in this first series of the Power Women of London.
CBRE head of sustainability of Europe, Middle East and Africa Rebecca Pearce had a winding road to where she is today. Trained as an architect in her native Australia, she launched her own practice before earning her master's degree in HR management and psychology. She then moved into project management at a bank—and that was the turning point for her. That bank took sustainability seriously, she says.
When she moved up to CBRE’s head of sustainability in Asia in 2010, no one was doing anything with sustainability, she says. When CBRE asked her to move from Australia to London to manage the sustainability initiatives for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, she couldn’t refuse.
Rebecca pioneered a sustainable strategy for CBRE and for clients, making it creditable to the market. In less than a decade, she visibly transformed the business of sustainability at CBRE and in the wider industry.
Her job is varied and changing, Rebecca says. She recently completed a toolkit for property managers to approach sustainability in client's properties. She is currently working with Morocco to create an industry event that will be a follow-up to the UN conference on climate change in Paris.
When she’s not shaking up the status quo and creating markets, Rebecca adores travel and is restoring a house in rural Italy. Eventually, Rebecca and her husband plan to make the house a working farm. Everything will be organic, she says. She wants to make sure everything is as natural as possible, and local materials are a priority.
The Battersea Power Station head of leasing Jo Skilton has one of the most visible jobs in London. As the iconic Battersea Power Station transforms into a world class destination, Jo is responsible for filling the space with an energetic mix of retailers that will set the development apart. She wants to give customers an experience, she says. Shopping isn’t just about buying stuff, it’s about enjoying yourself.
Online retailing is great for convenience, but brick-and-mortar is about bringing enjoyment into your life. “You’re creating future memories,” she says.
She’s always worked at the forefront of new projects in increasingly senior positions, and always in retail. One of her first significant accomplishments was introducing retail to Heathrow Airport. From there she headed up Intu’s retail before starting her own consultancy. Then Battersea came calling.
Because she works mostly with entrepreneurs and independent retailers, she says she doesn’t encounter any old boys network in her role. “I’m keen that women share equal status with men in our industry,” she says.
As a leader in the industry, she says she hopes the younger generation in her office can learn something from her just as she learned from her own mentors. “It's about mapping the future direction of retail in the UK and it's about finding the next generation of property professionals be they men or women,” she says.
Her advice for the up-and-comers? Work hard. Reach for the stars and make a difference.