INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY: Sally’s breakthrough in a male-orientated industry

Sally Hart, operations director at George F White, land, property and business group.
Sally Hart, operations director at George F White, land, property and business group.

Today is International Women’s Day and, to celebrate, we focus on one woman who is breaking the mould in a male-orientated industry.

Late last year, Sally Hart entered a man’s world.

The operations director at Alnwick-based property consultants and chartered surveyors George F White was announced as the firm’s first female equity partner in a male-dominated sphere.

Sally was originally appointed as head of communications in 2014. Six months into her role, she was invited to join the board after the way she had transformed the communications side of the business, with teams working better together internally and the firm maintaining a prominent and consistent external profile.

In what was largely a natural progression for Sally, she became operations director in January 2017, a position she’s now held for more than two years.

Her first move was to conduct a full business review and, since then, she has restructured the business in a way that has created a positive difference to its people, improving their confidence, career opportunities and rewards, leading to the pinnacle of her career so far – an invitation from the group to become equity partner in recognition of the role she plays within the business.

“I personally have never felt that I have been disadvantaged in business for being a woman, however, I have experienced perceptions towards me, whether that be age or gender,” said Sally.

“The biggest perception, for me, is that as soon as you start a family, your career is over – this is simply not true. I started my own family within my first year as operations director and have since been invited to become an equity partner.

“I truly believe that you define your own success; if you have a strong skill set and ambition then it is all about finding the opportunity or business that will support your development and growth. We should be very proud of the support network that exists for both business women and men in the region; it is right that we actively encourage and champion one another.”

Sally believes that people are at the heart of everything, therefore is concentrating on engaging with young talent, ensuring that George F White develops the next generation of its team, both male and female, to be the best they can be.

Sally said: “I hope to help inspire other women in business, demonstrating to them that there is opportunity to excel in whatever industry you work within. The business landscape is forever changing, becoming increasingly competitive and chaotic both at the same time.

“I truly believe that this presents a great opportunity to push forward the mutual business desire, cross-sector, to create level playing field and equality for all to succeed.”

Managing partner Robyn Peat said: “The amount Sally has achieved in such a short space of time is phenomenal. In her first 18 months as operations director, she has transformed how we operate, creating a stronger, more successful business model which puts people at the centre of what we do to enable consistent growth and development.

“As a young female director, Sally breaks the tradition in the sector and represents a positive and powerful role model, not only to women in our industry, but women in business across the Northern region. She doesn’t just look after the business side of things, but the people who make the business a success too – and that’s a rare talent.”