Millennials, Social Impact, Women in Real Estate

Career Conversations with Joanna Fabikun, Head Of Communications at Eko Atlantic City

JFNigeria’s real estate is thriving but due to economic uncertainty and inflation, millennials are postponing home ownership. It is estimated that over 15 million Lagosians live in rented apartments- that’s a lot for a large city! Joanna Fabikun is contributing to the transformation of Nigeria’s real estate industry through her work at Eko Atlantic. Her dream is to ensure that every young Nigerian has access to affordable housing.

Joanna started her real estate career at Cushman & Wakefield where she had the opportunity to work with international accounts from various industries such as Google and Burberry! She moved to Lagos shortly after to work as a Business Development Manager at Eko Atlantic and started leading the communications team shortly after. She is passionate about empowering young women and has hosted several career development workshops to help young women thrive in their careers. She shared some career tips with LFE:

Deciding what career path to follow after university can be daunting, especially if you have various interests. What inspired you to pursue a career in real estate?  Daunting I would say is an understatement, deciding what route to take in your career is a life changing decision …. for me I’ve always been fascinated with the built environment. Originally I wanted to be an architect and studied architecture for a year before changing to become a surveyor, I realized I had a mind for business and wanted to do something that could combine my passion for real estate with the modern business world I found that in Real Estate Management.JF #2

How would you describe the real estate market in Nigeria today in terms of trends and challenges?  Nigeria has had its challenges. Although not a new problem, one of the key challenges effecting the industry today would be the incessant building collapses traversing the country, it is encouraging to see the government see through their plan of safely pulling down at risk structures to prevent further loss of life, but we still have a long way to go.

On a brighter note, more flexible real estate such as short let apartments and flexible office space has been a global trend that we are seeing positively effect the Nigerian market with places like workstation doing very well.

Lastly there is a a lot of anticipation for blockchain to take full effect in the industry and redefine how we operate.JF #3

What changes in the Nigerian market do to you foresee in the next 10 years?I’m optimistic that by then we would have a better mortgage system in place with a more feasible interest rate.

Nigerians originally tend to love larger homes but now approximately 70% of demand is for one bed room apartments whilst supply is only 20%. As a result of this, in the next 10 years I foresee Nigerians adopting a more European style of living with smaller living spaces.

As a woman, what challenges have you faced(if any) in the real estate industry in Nigeria? I think having to prove your value as a woman in a male dominated field can be difficult considering men are often valued off the bat .I have on many occasions said exactly the same thing as my male counterpart but it seemed to not be received until a man said it. It makes me laugh now but at the time it was frustrating to say the least.  I have a “anything a man can do a woman can do better” mentality.

We have a long way to go with how women are treated regardless of industry and it’s a continuous challenge the most important thing we can do as women is not fall into the negative stereotypes we are often fed and continue to break barriers !

What’s your favorite part about your job? One of the highlights of my job is our outreach program where we have students of all ages usually studying related subjects or courses tour the site, where i’m able to properly educate them on the project ! The faces of the students ,especially the younger ones. when they see city is priceless!

Who is your Career Crush? It’s varies. Most recently , I would have to say Pearl Uzokwe. She is not only an extremely accomplished woman.  She is also kind hearted and willing to help the younger generation of women coming up and this is a rare combination here in Nigeria ! The smallest things make the biggest difference !

JF 4

What advice do you have for millennials who want to purchase their first home in a bustling city like Lagos?

  • Focus on emerging locations instead of trendy hotspots !
  • Live at home for as long as your can and don’t be in a rush to move out and rent ! It’s not worth it !
  • Make a clear and structured plan with mile stones to help you save effectively !
  • Consider off-plan developments for good deals !

What pointers would you give to young women who are trying to break into the real estate industry?

  • Be well informed with things happening in your industry !
  • Join your relevant professional body and engage with their practices and events!
  • Don’t be discouraged by unfair and biased treatment,  persevere against all odds
  • Let your work speak for itself

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