Taumarunui farmer Katie Walker, is the first woman to receive the coveted REINZ Rural Rising Star of the Year award.
Katie has made her mark, after her first year in the traditionally male dominated rural sector of the real estate industry. She joined the Property Brokers rural team three weeks after her second baby was born. “I had been in rural retail trade for years, left to have a family and wanted to come back to something more flexible,” she said.
“I went for the interview and I knew this was it.”
Katie went in with no misconceptions. “I knew the majority of my peers and clients were going to be men,” Katie said. “I don’t feel disadvantaged, the way I see it we’re all on a level playing field.”
“I had the first farm away (sold) within 3 weeks, then I was able to secure sole listing of a really large farm, putting it up for tender,” Katie said. “I would have to say that was a pretty lucky start.”
Husband Carwyn disagrees. He credits the achievements to Katie’s work ethic and effort. Luck did play a part in the couple coming together. Katie, nee Wright, is a true blue local. “Carwyn’s family moved from Te Kuiti, buying the farm next door so I married the boy next door,” she said. “Being a local does have huge advantages. I know the people, I know the area and because we’re still farming here I can talk the talk.”
Katie and Carwyn have two children under 5, and are jointly involved in the day to day running of their mixed farm and contracting operation. Support from family and friends have made juggling their busy life plus the new demands of being in real estate, work for them. “Property Brokers are really supportive too, you certainly have to have that to be able to do what I do,” she said.
Breaking the gender barrier has had its moments, but Katie has proven she’s up for the challenge. “Initially I had a couple of times where I got the feeling there was a bit of reluctance dealing with a woman,” Katie said. “One guy made it pretty clear he thought I should be at home baking scones. People like that - I set out to prove them wrong, I get on and do the job.”
She believes you are in control of your own destiny, if you put in the effort you are well rewarded. “There are no excuses for not succeeding in this industry,” she said. “You accept it’s one of those jobs you never knock off, accept there will be no special treatment, do the basics, and do your homework - (success) it will just come.”
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