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REAL success for Colliers female leadership programme


Colliers’ inaugural Real Estate And Leadership (REAL) programme which launched in March 2020 has come to a close with five of the all-female cohort being successful in achieving promotion within the business and the course set to be rolled out EMEA-wide.

REAL is part of Colliers’ UK Balance in Business programme, which aims to address diversity and inclusion within the organisation. The inaugural programme saw 13 female fee earning senior surveyors and associate directors, representing a variety of business lines from across the country, selected to take part in the intensive training course to develop their leadership skills specifically with clients, projects and people in mind.

Lydia Ings, UK HR Director, Colliers said: “REAL was designed to tackle the lack of female talent in senior roles in our industry head on, so it is great to see the programme having such a tangible impact on the participants and in turn our business. Five of our 2020 cohort were recognised in our annual promotions, with one of our cohort promoted while on maternity leave, which is particularly encouraging to see. REAL has been so successful that it is being replicated in other regions, with an EMEA-wide programme planned for launch later this year.”

The year-long modular course was designed to guide participants to discover and optimise their personal and professional strengths, incorporating a mix of practical training on strategic thinking and how to demonstrate the skills, attitude and behaviours of a leader, alongside presentations from guest speakers throughout the year, from both within and outside the real estate sector, to showcase different styles of leadership and inspire the cohort to become future leaders themselves.

Holly Gillingham, Senior Planner at Colliers, who took part in REAL, said: “This course has been invaluable to me. I have gained a greater understanding of different styles of leadership, and REAL has given me the confidence to believe in my own leadership style and apply that to my work. Since completing the programme, I can think of numerous examples of where my learnings have helped me to prepare and lead important client meetings, or inspired me to seek out opportunities to cross-sell the planning team to other parts of the business.

“One of the key takeaways for me has been just how easy it can be to support and bring other women along on the journey with you. Sharing resources and insights from the course and identifying ways to support other women in my team to help them grow and develop in their career gives the course even greater legacy. I am actually a little envious of the 2021 cohort who have all this still to come!”

This year’s REAL programme culminates with a series of presentations from the 2020 cohort on Thursday 25 March, where the future female leaders will partner up to deliver presentations to employees and clients on a range of topics, including: ‘working on a part time basis in a transactional role’; ‘increasing cross selling and collaboration;’ and ‘attracting and retaining top talent.’

The 2020 Cohort included: Emma Higgins, Charlotte Ashton, Emma O’Driscoll, Amy Brooksbank, Holly Gillingham, Siddikah Shah, Georgia Pirbhai, Jessica Short, Georgie Griffiths, Samantha Nicholls, Gemma Daly-Gunn, Victoria Aspinall, and Skye Andrews.

Raminta Kymantas from Colliers’ Learning & Development team, added: “It has been a pleasure to guide these amazing women through our first REAL programme. They have shown great commitment and resilience, particularly as the course had to be adapted to be delivered virtually, but they supported each other throughout and their bond is arguably stronger as a result. In addition to the leadership skills they have acquired, ultimately they have built a supportive network of contacts that they can turn to for help and support well beyond the close of this year’s programme, as they continue on their journey to become future leaders.”

Colliers’ REAL 2021 cohort will be announced in March to coincide with International Women’s Day.

Related Experts

Lydia Ings

HR Director

Human Resources

London - West End

I join Colliers with over 18 years experience in Human Resources, most recently holding the senior position of Head of Talent Acquisition and Development.

As a highly respected HR professional with extensive knowledge of the real estate market, I have worked across the full spectrum of HR; including talent acquisition, graduate development, training & career development, operations, and business partnering.

I lead Colliers’ UK HR team, using extensive experience in real estate to understand the challenges we face across all business lines, adding real value to the UK business.


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Holly Gillingham

Associate Director



With 9 years’ experience in planning, development and regeneration across the UK and the USA, Holly brings a wide range of planning knowledge and experience to the team. Holly works across the UK and is currently involved in a number of major and local development proposals. She is an active member of the Scottish Young Planners’ Network and RTPI East Scotland chapter.

Key Skills

  • Planning and Development Consultancy;
  • Planning Applications;
  • Master Planning;
  • Local Development Plans; 
  • Business Land Reviews;
  • Local Place Plans;
  • Community and stakeholder engagement;
  • Education, hotel and leisure experience; and
  • Planning project management and assembly of multidisciplinary project teams.
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Suzy Simpson

Head of Content, Communications and PR


London - West End

As Head of Content, Communications & PR for Colliers in the UK, I am responsible for driving the strategic direction of corporate communications, media relations, and the programming and production of multi-channel content to engage external and internal audiences across the UK.

Get in touch for help with: 

  • Content Communication Strategy 
  • Media Relations
  • Corporate & Internal Communications
  • Media Training & Personal Brand Training


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