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White Brick Wall

How did you get to where you are now? Did you always know what you wanted to do?

When I was about 12 years old, I thought I wanted to be an architect after reading a book. From that point, I geared my studies to this aspiration. I chose math, graphics and 3D design as my A levels. I then did an Art and Design Btec foundation course before going to the University of Sheffield to study Architecture. When working in Lagos, Nigeria as an architectural assistant, I decided I didn’t want to be an architect but a project manager, shortly after my return to the UK I started working at Peabody as an Assistant Development Officer. It was then I did a part time masters in Project Management at Oxford Brookes while working and then subsequently became a member of the RICS.

My route is more conventional than most. Exposure to the architectural profession is what made me pivot. I had no idea that Development management was a professional until that experience. Since Peabody, I have worked at Bouygues and Balfour Beatty Investments before starting Mood and Space in 2022. 
 

What is it like being a woman in a Senior position and how does it feel? 

As a managing director and founder of a startup, my day to day changes. Primarily, I am focused on offering my clients a high quality service. However to grow the business I am also responsible for representing the brand, strategy and business development.


The way I deal with being a black woman in a male dominated industry is to identify my community. I think it is so important to have a network of people who reinforce your capabilities and aspirations. This was one of the reasons I founded Black Women in Real Estate. The community I have, has made me feel more embedded in the industry.  The other thing I constantly remind myself is that my difference is my superpower.
 

As someone in your role, how do you deal with challenges (personal and work role related)?

My belief is that challenges are there for us to learn, they are a part of life. So when I’m faced with a problem I try to shift my perspective and concentrate on the learning opportunity. This can be hard to do when in the problem but my community and network are great at helping me work through challenges as they arise. Knowing when to ask for help is a skill!

Fortunately I am surrounded by inspiring people who push and support me to keep going even when it may be difficult. Also, as a goal oriented person, I am motivated by achieving my aims. This is something that keeps me going even when faced with challenges.

Despite any challenges you may face, what’s the best thing you like about your role?

The built environment profession is so tangible, so for me, the most rewarding thing about working in the industry is seeing my projects come to fruition; seeing people live or occupy the spaces that I had the opportunity to work on makes all the hard work worth it.

White Brick Wall
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For young women questioning whether they can achieve senior positions in the industry, I ask, if not you then who?.”

Hey Ladies, my name is Hanna Afolabi, I'm 32 years old and I'm currently the Managing Director and Founder of Mood and Space. I’ve been working within the industry for 10+ years now.

I never looked at it as stepping up into a senior role, I always expected my career to continue to progress so my promotion to director felt like a natural part of my professional journey. Deciding to set up Mood and Space (my own consultancy) was a bigger leap and something I had anticipated doing further down the road but the opportunity presented itself last year and I took advantage of it.

"My encouragement for young women seeking senior positions is to believe it is possible. If you can aspire to it, you are capable of achieving it."

We need more women to rise to the top and take up space, this can only be accomplished when individuals have the confidence to step into senior roles.  For young women questioning whether they can achieve senior positions in the industry, I ask, if not you then who?

Outside of your role, do you have a passion project?

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Black Women in Real Estate was established from the desire to connect with other black women in the built environment. As an underrepresented group, we rarely cross paths in our work life, BWRE creates the opportunity for black women to create a supportive network across the industry. We enable Black Women to be seen, heard and grow in the Real Estate industry. We’re opening doors for endless opportunities for Black Women working in the industry.  

Since November 2019 we have cultivated a sisterhood through our fortnightly virtual calls and meet ups which are usually every 2 months at various locations. If you'd like to join us for our regular calls or meet ups, please visit www.bwre.org
 

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Hannah Afolabi (nee osundina) mrics

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