By Anouk Khan
The French Riviera generally associated with haute couture was transformed overnight into a corporate sea of suits, briefcases and luggage trolleys for the start of MIPIM 2018. For the past 25 years this event has brought together international real estate industry property players, banks and law firms, creating four days of frenzied networking and client and corporate entertainment.
Far down the Croissette, navy blue suited men could be spotted everywhere with the occasional elegantly dressed women. Lunchtime onwards all the restaurants were full to the brim, even the local McDonalds had queues of young to middle aged men trying to get a morsel before hitting the halls again.
Whilst on the outside it looked like any other year at MIPIM, this year the underlying feel was drastically different. Party revellers were hiding, wary of undercover journalists waiting to expose them as they had at the President’s Club. Big banks shied away from it altogether this year for fear of their employees being caught red-handed, and many clients of law firms stayed away from yacht events which are synonymous with hedonistic parties.
Away from the dark side, there was a refreshing new movement. For the first time in the history of MIPIM, there were many networking events for women. The British Property Federation, in association with Real Estate Balance, held an afternoon tea centred around diversity, and Women in Property held both a networking breakfast as well as drinks sponsored by Intertrust Real Estate and Wilberforce Chambers respectively.
An unnamed female Partner from a well-known law firm said for the first time in 20 years she felt comfortable at MIPIM, and that it was refreshing to see more women than she has seen in the past. However , we still have a long way to go to correct the 15% female representation in the real estate industry.
REWOMEN and Herbert Smith Freehills partnered together in the name of diversity and held a drinks reception on the Soja yacht moored just off the main port. The event turnout was a great mix of lawyers, engineers, proptech people, agency and consultants. The torrential Thursday rain had thankfully subsided to lend an evening of informal discussions and exchange of ideas between guests.
We at REWOMEN are grateful and thankful for HSF’s support and for creating a memorable event. We returned from MIPIM with new leads and ideas to make the rest of 2018 a year of further growth for diversity and inclusion in London and abroad – watch this space!!