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Achievements, Awareness against bias, Action against equality

This International Women’s Day we’re celebrating the women who make up 65% of our workforce here at Retirement Villages across our central team and operational villages. We’re proud to say that we offer an inclusive environment for women to enjoy their career and we have some stories to share with you. To mark this year’s International Women’s Day, we want to showcase just some of the inspiring women who work at RV.

Sophie Robertson, Grounds Supervisor, Gradwell Park Village, Retirement Villages

Sophie started her career in Marketing, but she found herself moving to a home with a garden which ignited an interest in gardening which soon cascaded into a passion for horticulture. At 27, Sophie quit her job, went to college to re-train and embarked on a blossoming career in gardening.

Sophie says, “I’m was really proud of myself getting this job, it’s physical, it’s challenging and really rewarding. I am given the freedom to be creative and make choices. I have a vision for how to make the grounds at Gradwell Park really come to life and have the autonomy to make that happen. I’m also supported with training – I recently attended a course on beekeeping to ensure I have all of the knowledge I need to look after our bees when they arrive later this spring.” I regularly post on our Facebook page so please follow me at  Gradwell Park by Retirement Villages | Facebook

Fritha Jaine, Regional operations Manager, Retirement Villages 

Fritha joined RVG in 2019 as Village Manager and quickly progressed to multi-location management before becoming one of the Regional Operations Managers in April 2021. 

“The Village Manager role at RV seemed to tick the boxes for me not only did it match the needs of my family, but it was on a building site, and anyone who knows me knows I love nothing more than donning my riggers and high vis, making things work properly and seeing them go live. When Covid hit, I was asked to step up and cover additional scope on top of my remit as Village Manager at one of our newest retirement villages, Debden Grange. I moved into this role permanently in April 2021 and became one of the new Regional Operations Managers with a focus on all the new builds and developments”.

Yorkshire born Fritha is living proof that women can multitask juggling a family and a highly successful career. She has two grown children, three dogs and was carer for her young nephew for 2 years.  “I unexpectedly spent the last two years being a primary carer for my young nephew. RVG were really understanding of the sudden need to juggle my diary so I would only be away from home on days I didn’t need to be looking after him. Knowing that there was no negative judgement and only support from RVG made it much easier to manage the other stress that comes along with suddenly having to parent a toddler.”

“My colleagues support me but also aren’t afraid to challenge my views and they know I’m not afraid to challenge theirs. I love that my skill set has been recognised by the company and I have been given opportunities based on my strengths and experience and nothing to do with gender. I can’t deny I don’t still get a kick out of changing people’s perceptions when I turn up to a site and know what I’m talking about, to both with residents and contractors!”

Lucy Black, Director of Marketing, Retirement Villages

Lucy joined RVG in January 2021, as Head of Marketing following 20 years of marketing in the leisure travel and tourism industry.  Lucy’s career change was brought about by Covid which brought the travel industry to its knees in 2020 and also coincided with Lucy returning from maternity leave. 

With a strategic switch of direction and backed by AXA IM Alts, the company was looking to make a step change as a brand; this included moving to a digital-first strategy, focusing on a lifestyle proposition and improving customer experience to support the growth strategy of the business. Lucy’s experience along with the team brought about the new website launched in October 2021.

Lucy says, “I have a little girl who’s now 2 years old. When I joined Retirement Villages, I was very open about being a new mum and that I could only commit to a 4 day week. Spending a day a week with my daughter was important, especially since I won’t get this time back again. Yet it was so important to me that I did not take a step down and undo the progress I had made so far. I wanted to try out an entirely new sector and challenge my marketing skillset. Most importantly though, I wanted to smash this working mum role - as a role model for my daughter and to make my loved ones proud. 

I won’t deny that there are days when it’s really tough and incredibly demanding, but my boss and the company are so supportive of my needs as a parent.  Not long after I joined, I had to take parental leave to care for my daughter following surgery. To take time out so soon into a new job was not easy for me to ask for, but Retirement Villages showed 100% support and understanding.  Since then, I have been promoted to Marketing Director and am expanding my team so we can deliver exciting plans to support the growth of the business and evolution of the brand."

Maria Charalambous, Head of Customer Accounts, Retirement Villages 

Maria was brought into Retirement Villages due to her extensive knowledge of legislation and compliance which drives every decision she makes, gained from over 30 years in the industry.

Maria joined RVG after taking a one year career break.  Coming from a large family and with a close knit group of friends that she’s known since school, it’s clear to see that building and maintaining relationships is what drives Maria both outside of the workplace and in her day-to-day role.

Maria comments, “Women can go as far as they want to go in their career. At RVG there is very much a culture of openness, men can come to women for advice – and vice versa.  I believe that you should always treat people as you would want to be treated yourself, and therefore drive an open and honest, transparent communication flow.  It’s the same with a career, it’s all a cycle – woman can go as far as they want – you put in as much as you want to take out . But, if there’s one piece of advice I can give it’s to maintain a work-life balance.  Everyone has a life outside of work. It’s important to build your career but not let it totally consume your life. Being part of a business that understands that is vital to everyone’s personal wellbeing.”

Ginny Cordy-Redden, Development Manager

18 months into her role as a Development Manager, qualified Chartered Surveyor Ginny tells us why she found her ‘perfect opportunity’ here.  “It is really important to me to be able to apply my skills to a role where I know we are actually making a positive social impact. Having worked with Age UK & the Alzheimer’s Society in the past, to now work for a company that is proactively investing into their communities and the individuals who live in our villages, I’ve been provided the perfect opportunity to marry my work with my desire to create positive change to the way we currently address senior living in the UK. On top of this, to be part of building our trailblazing Whole Life Net Zero Carbon Strategy has been an incredible learning opportunity and I’m excited to be part of a company that recognises, and is prepared to tackle, the climate crisis.”

Karen Rae, Village Manager at Castle Village

Karen spent much of her career working in Finance at one of the top four banks in South Africa, she made the decision to leave the corporate world and after a short time of working in marketing, found her calling with Retirement Villages’ management team.

“There have been times in my career when I have been the only female on a management team. This has now greatly changed, and I think so much for the better, as diversity brings so much value. RVG recognises and supports its workforce of all genders, but the recognition of the flexibility that female workers sometimes need is especially appreciated. Female management teams are increasing throughout the retirement sector and that is something to celebrate. 

I’m so grateful to again be working in this industry in the UK; it’s equally one of the most rewarding sectors to be in”

Sheriesa Naicker, Commercial Finance Manager

Sheriesa, who has been with Retirement Villages for just over 6 months told us:

"It’s the people here that makes working at RV amazing. There is a really positive attitude towards having an open environment where everyone can talk, raise an idea and feel part of a team that is making a really positive change in this industry.  This is one of the most supportive companies I have worked in when it comes to learning and development and I can see that our People team put a lot of effort into this."

I feel trusted to get on with my job and having a mix of working from home and in the office gives me a good work life balance and even time out to enjoy the things I love such as swimming and yoga. I’m also part of a mentorship programme with my old university where I mentor young women who are about to graduate and enter the working world by supporting them through the job-hunting process and building their confidence".

Caroline Keiller, Development Manager, Retirement Villages

Caroline tells us of her unconventional route into the property sector and how this helped her to secure a place on the Development Team at Retirement Villages.

An Economics graduate, Caroline started her career in commercial sales in the beauty industry but after a couple of years realised she didn’t have the passion for it. She took some much-needed time out, travelled South America and decided to pursue her interest in property.  “I am particularly interested in the relationship between buildings and people and the importance of good design, so I embarked on a new path, starting by working as an Estate Agent before securing a job with a large property developer in south west London where I worked and studied part-time for 2 years for a Masters in Property Development and Planning followed by 2 years studying to take the APC to become a Chartered Surveyor”. 

Caroline is now part of the Development Team working to deliver new retirement communities as well as a programme of improvement works to existing villages.

She says, “Retirement Villages has a culture for openness, the people are approachable and everyone is encouraged to express their views.”

At Retirement Villages, we are proud to support everyone in the best way we can to help them achieve their career goals. If you’d like to find out about the roles we are currently recruiting for at Retirement Villages, please visit our careers page here.

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