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It was a twist of fate that saw Isabella Constantinou enter the world of commercial broking in 2017. After joining Simplicity Loans & Advisory as a graduate, she now celebrates her six-month anniversary as associate director of sales. MPA spoke with the Sydney broker about how she got started as well as her tips for female brokers entering the commercial space.
A career defining appointment
When Constantinou wrapped up her finance and economics degree in 2017, she wasn’t sure what career path to take.
“At the time I was working at a tech company up the hill from Simplicity and I didn’t really know what I wanted to do with my degree.”
“The guys had advertised an office manager position and I decided to apply because I could walk down the hill at lunch for an interview.”
While she hadn’t considered broking before, she says she was attracted to the industry after meeting the team and seeing the way they operated.
“As soon as I went for the interview, I was pretty sold on working there.”
Not only did everyone have a “great vibe”, the fact that it was a relatively new business at the time represented a greater opportunity to her.
“You learn so much more and you’re so much more exposed to a whole lot of different deals being able to talk to clients that you probably wouldn’t even get a look in at the bank.”
After being told that she wasn’t really the best fit for the office manager role, Constantinou was offered an inaugural graduate position – an unplanned addition to the business sparked by the potential that managing directors Jean-Pierre Gortan and Matthew Johnson saw in her.
She started out doing some admin work before moving to an associate position alongside Johnson and Gortan before moving into her current management role where she takes care of her own portfolio of commercial clients and referrers.
Moving beyond the boys’ club mentality
With only a quarter of the broking industry represented by females, Constantinou says there needs to be greater awareness of the role women play in the profession.
“Generally, there’s definitely more widespread adoption of gender equality and diversity, not just in the finance world but in the whole corporate environment.”
“The industry bodies like the MFAA and FAST are running more and more panel discussions and other initiatives to support and encourage women in the industry.”
She says this is important because a lot of women may feel deterred by the dominant perception in society that broking is a male domain.
“The industry still has typically quite a boys’ club mentality and that can be quite daunting.”
“I think it’s quite easy to feel a bit inferior to them if you don’t have confidence in your ability.”
“But over the last three years I’ve learnt it’s just about being able to hold your own and be confident that you’re no different to any of the men in the room.”
Advice for female brokers
For females thinking of entering the commercial broking space, Constantinou offers two pieces of advice.
“Don’t be afraid to back yourself. There’s still a massive concentration of men within the industry and I think it’s an opportunity to stand out if you can achieve success as a woman.”
She adds that new industry players should look beyond the major banks for employment and professional development opportunities.
“Don’t shy away from smaller businesses because you might actually get more of an opportunity out of that than you realise.”
- A team culture built on diversity
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