Janie Strange, Inspirational Woman of the Quarter 2017. Authored by Samantha Massey, Franchise Launch Manager at SDL Property Partners.
There have been many women who have broken barriers that have allowed for more women to do things in fields that weren’t always “women friendly” and who also helped more women know that they can accomplish anything they set their mind to.
In our industry, Janie Strange is one of those women. As a founding Fellow of the IRPM, past Chairman and retiring CEO, Janie has spent the last twenty plus years involved in residential block management. Formerly a partner at Cluttons and Director of Property Management for Grosvenor’s London Estate. She is the technical author of the Third Edition of the RICS Service Charge Residential Management Code.
We spoke with Janie and asked her to take us on the journey of her successful career.
Janie, left school unsure of what to do next, she enrolled on a secretarial course as “most women did”, but she does not regret enrolling on the course, as she has used the skills learnt throughout her career.
At 18, her first job was working for a local Estate Agent in Sussex, a few years later she joined a firm in London but continued to commute from Sussex.
She then married, had two children and was in a position where she didn’t ‘need’ to work, but because of her passion for property she found that she “pottered” in and out of property and property management.
Janie didn’t see it coming but, 20 years ago, her marriage ended and she “had to decide what to do”. With one child at university and the other due start university Janie decided that “as a woman, if I was going to be taken seriously, I needed to obtain a proper qualification…and property was all I knew”
She was not sure how she could become a Chartered Surveyor and after some research she found that there was a day release course for non-cognate graduates at South Bank University.
During this time (1995), she also started working for Cluttons for a boss who she credits as being “hugely supportive” of her studies.
Janie, thoroughly enjoyed the course, but adds that at almost 50 years of age “I was old enough to be the mother of all the other students but we seemed to get on well. Age was certainly not a barrier”.
Janie qualified as a Chartered Surveyor in 1996, and “Because I needed to look after and provide for myself, I had to put my foot on the career ladder pedal and work hard, I was lucky to have a boss who gave me opportunities that others may not have given”
Shortly after, Janie became a salaried partner for Cluttons. It was during this time that another partner, who sat on one of the ARMA committees approached her to ask if she would take over his role on the committee which she did. “I knew if I accepted the role it would be a huge commitment and I don’t believe in signing up to something and not working hard for it”. She became a counsel member for ARMA and Chir of the ARMA Education Committee.
In 2001, the David Hewitt the then CEO of ARMA, persuaded a number of professional bodies to invest in the production of an opening learning course for residential block management – Janie chaired the working group that wrote the course.
In 2002, out of the ARMA Education Committee, the IRPM was born. In the same year, Janie was awarded the ARMA award for the person who had contributed the most to the ‘Residential Leasehold Sector’ during the year.
In 2007, Janie was headhunted to work as the Director of Property Management for Grosvenor Estate (London), which she accepted and worked there for five years.
In 2011, Janie attended a meeting in the RICS offices, she was asked to coordinate the update of the Service Charge Residential Management Code. She happily agreed as she wasn’t working full time. Of course, it later transpired that by ‘coordinating’ they meant ‘writing’ and we now have the Service Charge Residential Management Code, 3rd Edition.
The contributions of women like Janie have shaped our industry in very positive ways. It is imperative that we constantly remember their great works. When women share in each other’s successes, we help pave the way for future generations.
Janie, has now ‘retired’ but we’re not convinced that Janie will ever completely retire, as she remains involved with many initiatives in our industry.