Harassment has been and continues to be a major issue for women everywhere. For Leanne Pilkington, it was a blow she experienced early in her career.

As we celebrate International Women’s Day in March, we talk to the REINSW President and Laing+Simmons managing director about how she went from #MeToo to #girlboss.

“I was working as a shopping centre manager and had a #MeToo experience with my regional manager. I had always prided myself on my ability to manage difficult relationships and situations, and not being able to deal with this incident effectively rocked my confidence,” she admits.

Leanne left the job, which was a tough choice. But the emotional effect remained for some time.

“It took a few months for my confidence to recover and for me to really accept that I can’t control the behaviour of others – I can only control the way I react to it.”

Her decision ended up changing her life for the better, though, when it eventually led her to make a career out of property. With many of her friends deeply into property too, it was something that Leanne valued not just in a professional capacity, but in a personal way as well.

“Property means different things to different people, but it’s important to all of us, from the basic necessity of a roof over one’s head to an incredible way to build wealth. More than just a home, property can be a project, a passion, a hobby, your comfort or an investment. For me, at various times, it has been all those things, and still is,” she says.

Today, Leanne has risen to become one of the foremost women in the Australian property industry.

“It was never my intention to become so visible in the industry, but the fact that we have so few female leaders in this space has meant it has happened almost organically,” she confesses.

“It was something that, at first, I was happy to pursue when I was asked to speak at events, in the media or on panels. Now, I proactively seek to use my profile to support not only women in the industry, but the causes and initiatives that will improve the profile of all agents in the eyes of consumers, and in the services we deliver.”

As a co-founder of the Real Women in Real Estate networking group, she also wants to spur other women on to be confident to step up to the plate and become leaders in their own right.

“I am now actively encouraging women to step up and get involved in the issues that matter to our industry, like the Pathway to Professionalism initiative. I want them to take themselves out of their comfort zone and challenge themselves to take their careers to the next level. I want them to step up and take board positions, and to speak on panels and at conferences.”