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From the farm to the boardroom: Meet Noral Wild

June 19, 2024

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Noral Wild’s rise to Chief Executive at a leading global real estate firm is nothing short of remarkable in a traditionally male-dominated sector.

Her passion for property sparked from intense childhood Monopoly marathons with her siblings. Now, as leader of Cushman & Wakefield’s Australia and New Zealand operations, she’s living that love – while championing innovation, equality and sustainability at the highest level.

We asked Noral what it takes to succeed in industrial and how to support other women in rising to the top.

A career and passion inspired by family

Noral Wild’s journey from her roots in rugged country Australia to city boardrooms has been far from conventional. And far from simple.

Growing up on a farm in rural NSW, her fascination with property began with a nostalgic childhood pastime: Monopoly.

‘I had highly competitive Monopoly tournaments with my siblings that lasted for days,’ Noral laughs. ‘My interest in real estate started way back then.’

At 18, Noral embarked on a new life in the city, which marked the beginning of an exciting career journey. Not in property – but in archaeology.

‘I didn’t even know that you could get a Property degree,’ she explains. ‘But when I discovered that they did indeed exist, I switched focus. I realised that I’d finally found the career path that genuinely interested me.’

The industry was fiercely male-dominated at the time. But Noral refused to be deterred, crediting her initial attitude to her two grandmothers.

‘They were great examples of progressive, strong women. Because of them, I never considered gender to be a barrier to anything I wanted to do,’ Noral shares.

Noral’s journey to the boardroom

Noral began her career as a Property Trust Analyst at JB Were. After which, she quickly rose through the ranks at EY and JLL.

At the same time, she ran her own niche construction company, which provided important lessons in her journey towards leadership. In particular, she learned about the tight margins builders faced – and discovered a passion for sustainability.

At every step, there was an opportunity for growth. But the lessons weren’t always easy.

‘The pivotal moments in my career have also been the hardest,’ she explains. ‘They are the times that have helped move me forward the most.’

Along the way, Noral had no shortage of managers to help her thrive professionally. She considers them as crucial to her advancement as a woman in the industry.

‘My managers gave me opportunities and trusted me to do my job – all while providing lots of support along the way,’ she says.

‘This included supporting me to work flexibly when I had my children and wanted to keep working full time. They trusted me to work from home, which at the time, was uncommon.’

A bold leap to Cushman and Wakefield

After 12 triumphant years at JLL, a new opportunity beckoned at Cushman & Wakefield: the role of International Director, Head of Alternatives for the Asia Pacific region.

It was an offer Noral couldn’t ignore.

‘The company’s commitment to innovation and collaboration, as well as its inclusive culture, drew me in,’ Noral explains. ‘It’s a younger company that thinks like a start-up, supported by the benefits that come with being part of a global organisation.

‘Plus, I’d have the opportunity to expand my horizons in a company with a forward-thinking approach to property – and a diverse portfolio of services.’

In her new role, Noral used her impressive expertise in Alternative Investments – a growing sector that includes student accommodation, healthcare, childcare, build-to-rent and specialist disability centres.

But in March of this year – less than six months after taking on the position – Noral was elevated to an even higher role: Cushman & Wakefield’s CEO of Australia and New Zealand.

‘I couldn’t bypass the opportunity to drive strategic initiatives, foster growth and shape the future of the company in a vibrant market,’ she explains.

‘The rapidly evolving nature of Australia and New Zealand’s real estate industry is exhilarating!’

Women leading the way in industrial

The rise of women at Cushman & Wakefield is strong.

Noral’s appointment as CEO coincided with her colleague Natalie Craig’s promotion to head of the company’s Singapore chapter. And globally, it’s led by CEO Michelle Mackay.

This level of female representation at the executive level sets Cushman & Wakefield apart within the industrial property sector.

‘Our appointments send a clear message to women that their voices, experiences and contributions are valued and recognised,’ says Noral. ‘And it reinforces the message that there are no limits to what women can achieve.

‘By having women in key leadership positions, we’re not just inspiring and empowering the next generation of female professionals. We’re fostering a more inclusive workplace culture that benefits everyone.’

Noral’s vision for the future of industrial property

Cushman & Wakefield is growing its female talent pool by nurturing internal talent and providing pathways to brokerage positions.

Noral is eager to continue that approach.

While she acknowledges historical barriers have deterred women from pursuing a career in industrial, she says the company is providing a supportive platform for women.

‘The underrepresentation of women in the industrial property sector can be attributed to several factors, including historical gender biases, cultural norms, and structural barriers within the industry,’ Noral explains.

‘To tackle these issues, leaders need to push for more diversity, equity and inclusion. They should also offer mentorship, support networks and chances for professional growth.

‘This will encourage more women to enter the sector.’

Cushman & Wakefield recently became a WIN member organisation, a partnership that Noral considers a significant step forward in fostering gender diversity.

‘By partnering with WIN, Cushman & Wakefield can actively engage with a network of talented and ambitious women.

‘We’re excited to provide mentorship and professional development opportunities – and support WIN’s efforts to advocate for greater diversity in the sector.’

Want to hear more inspiring stories about women in industrial? Connect with WIN on LinkedIn.

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