Meet the 6 powerful women who gave the real estate industry a much needed facelift

Armed with female grit and high heeled stilettos, these ladies are ready to take over the global real estate market

Over the years, the property sector grew to become more organised and more competitive, eventually embracing female talent. golubovystock/Shutterstock

As with any other industry, the real estate sector used to thrive in an extremely masculine landscape, with practically zero to minimal female representation. It was only in the early 1900s when the first female agent joined the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and even then, women were not allowed into the real estate boards until the 1950s.

Over the years, the property sector grew to become more organised and more competitive, eventually embracing female talent. However, that still meant that aspiring female agents had to work twice as much to prove themselves, all the while ignoring sexist remarks from male colleagues.

Little did they know that the tables will eventually turn.

The real estate industry that we know now is no longer dominated by men. In fact, Entrepreneur India revealed that there are 50 percent more female realtors in the U.S. than male, bringing the ratio at 2:1.

Yet again, despite the decades of progress, women still experience challenges that are unfamiliar to men, such as gender pay gap, gender discrimination, lack of mentorship, restricted career advancement, and limited leadership roles, which is the most apparent.

The real estate industry that we know now is no longer dominated by men. SergeyNivens/Shutterstock

Here at Asia Property Awards, we know how difficult it is to succeed in real estate, which is why we want to acknowledge the powerful women who gave the industry that much needed facelift.

For 15 years, the editors at PropertyGuru Property Report Magazine have commended individuals from across the region who have made a significant impact in the industry by presenting the Real Estate Personality of the Year at each Asia Property Awards gala dinner.

Throughout these years, we have had six powerful women who managed to shatter gender norms. Allow us to walk down memory lane as we celebrate their valuable contributions.

Thippaporn Ahriyavraromp (Chearavanont)
Chief Executive Officer, Magnolia Quality Development Corporation (MQDC)

In 2012, Thipaporn was awarded the Real Estate Personality of the Year title, the first female recipient to win the distinction across all our awards market

Serving as CEO at MQDC, Thippaporn runs one of the biggest development firms in the country. This powerful woman has managed to seamlessly lead her team to success, with iconic projects towering all over Bangkok. To date, MQDC has the proud distinction of building Magnolia Waterfront Residences at IconSiam, the tallest tower in the country, as well as two other buildings included in Thailand’s 10 tallest properties.

In 2012, she was the first female to receive the Real Estate Personality of the Year award not only in Thailand, but across all our awards markets.

Kemmy Tan
Chief Executive Officer, M+S Pte Ltd

Kemmy giving her speech after receiving the Singapore Real Estate Personality of the Year award in 2019

With a “vision to build outstanding legacies for future generations to be proud of,” Kemmy has driven her firm M+S to be a catalyst for change, developing exceptional projects, such as Marina One and DUO, that has established high standards of living in Singapore. Because of this, she took home the esteemed Singapore Real Estate Personality of the Year in 2019.

Henry Sy, Sr. and Family
SM Investments Corporation

Albeit given to the entire family, the Sy women are more than deserving of the award, particularly the late Henry Sr.’s daughter Teresita who was not present at the gala

What started out as a small, family-owned shoe retail mart in the Philippines has transformed into one of the biggest holding companies in the country. As the brainchild of the late Henry Sy, Sr., the corporation, which is now led by the entire family, has achieved numerous milestones throughout the years, even opening several shopping malls in China and owning two of the 10 biggest malls in the world.

In 2019, the Property Report editors decided to honour the entire Sy family, the first and only family to receive the Philippine Real Estate Personality of the Year award, which also recognises the achievements of the Sy women, particularly Henry Sr.’s daughter, Teresita Sy-Coson.

Budiarsa Sastrawinata
Managing Director, Ciputra Group
President Director, PT Ciputra Residence

Lalitya receiving the Indonesia Singapore Real Estate Personality of the Year award on behalf of her father

As the recipient of the 2019 Indonesia Real Estate Personality of the Year award, Budiarsa was chosen for his company’s comprehensive real estate portfolio in Indonesia and around Asia. Even though the award was technically for her father, we wanted to highlight Lalitya Ciputra Sastrawinata, director of Ciputra Group, who received the award on his behalf and contributed to much of the company’s accomplishments over the years.

Celine Tang
Group Managing Director, SingHaiyi Group Ltd.

Celine is the first female Singapore Personality of the Year awardee

Alongside her husband, Celine makes up half of the renowned billionaire power couple in Singapore. Throughout her career, she has strived to be an advocate for corporate social responsibility, which she consistently incorporates into SingHaiyi’s company values. Just recently, she and her husband contributed USD3 million to the SME Help Fund to support small- and medium-sized businesses affected by the coronavirus outbreak. Over the years, her firm has acquired millions worth of properties in Singapore and across Asia.

In 2018, when she was still a newcomer in the city-state’s dynamic property scene, the Property Report editors already felt that she will be a force to reckon with, which is why she was the first female Singapore Real Estate Personality of the Year.

Supaluck Umpujh
Chairwoman, The Mall Group Co., Ltd

Supaluck receiving the Thailand Real Estate Personality of the Year award in 2017

The Mall Group is the second biggest retail group in Thailand, which is why it didn’t come as a surprise when Forbes designated Supaluck as the country’s “retail queen.” Her retail empire earns roughly around USD1.8 billion in revenue where she holds a 65 percent stake. Back in 2017, she received the Thailand Real Estate Personality of the Year recognition at the Thailand Property Awards, gaining another distinguished title under her belt.

These six powerful women broke gender norms that were once regarded as a somewhat impossible feat to achieve. Against all odds, these ladies have and will continue to overcome barriers, pushing for equality one high heeled step at a time.