Our interviewee is a wise and experienced leader, an elegant woman and a wonderful mother, a real estate and investment expert, and managing director of Sotheby's International Realty’s Cyprus branch, Anastasia Yianni. Representing Cyprus in one of the largest luxury real estate brands, with an annual global turnover of $150 billion, and bringing Cypriot properties to the platform popular with UHNWIs, is an honourable and very demanding task. But this delicate woman handles it with a smile and optimism.
This interview is not so much about real estate and investments as Anastasia herself – what it is like to head the office of a global brand, and how, in her opinion, the work of the company should be planned so that employees are comfortable, clients and partners feel secure, and Cyprus is properly represented on the global real estate market.
What qualities does a person need who to have to work in the investment field and represent such a prominent company?
It is incredibly interesting to work in real estate and investment. To be efficient in this field, first of all, you need to be an expert. It is lso important that all your knowledge passes through other filters, those of empathy and of understanding the investors’ wishes. A comprehensive approach is needed here.
Do you agree that women face more challenges than men working in the investment sector?
I wouldn’t say so. There is indeed an opinion that men have a more technical mindset and are good with numbers. But we understand that in reality, women are just as good with numbers and they understand what they need to focus on. In addition, women have certain qualities that are important in the investment sector; they can both simultaneously zoom in and out, soberly objectively assess the risks, and have a quickly eye to focus on the matter what needing (immediate) attention.
What are your company’s values?
Over the last two years, I have been working very hard on the development sector of my company. The company is a reflection of your personality. We have now decided that the main filters and the main values that define all our actions are those that are important both for the company and for me personally. These are Expertise, Efficiency, Ethics, and Style.
What is your specialisation?
This year I have very interesting tasks. I am responsible for growth and development. We have reached a stage where we have a fairly large number of employees, real estate experts with the necessary knowledge in investments, economics, real estate cycles, the situation on the local and global markets. Currently I am engaged in setting things in order, because I would like to oversee the development of our business structurally and systemically. and structural in its development.
What are your goals for 2021?
That is an interesting question. This year similar to the year before, we have set a number of rather ambitious goals with certain reservations due to events beyond our control. Therefore I will outline those goals that are independent of any external factors. First being an increase in staff. We are growing and I am actively engaged in search for professionals in the real estate market. We operate on a “protected entrepreneurship model” and can employ many talented ambitious brokers. I look forward to seeing high-level experts joining us this year. Secondly, I want as many satisfied clients as possible; to give them exactly what they want, to provide an experience with real estate that surpasses their expectations.. The goal is to have satisfied customers who are happy to be moving to relocating or buying something in Cyprus and will be recommending Cyprus as well as our company to their network. How is that for goals?
Sounds excellent! Let’s talk about a woman in business: who is she? Having worked as both employee and manager, what distinguishes the latter? What additional qualities have you had to develop over the course of your career?
I believe that your work is a mirror, your reflection. You get what you give. How could I be talking about expertise had I not been an expert myself? I am a person who is constantly learning and developing. Last year I received my Master's degree in Real Estate and wrote a thesis with the fascinating topic about Cyprus property market state. Having worked in this field for many years, I can say with confidence that I am indeed an expert in Cyprus real estate and this enables me to train employees. Incidentally my first degree helps here: I am a certified English and German teacher. It is great when you not only want but also know how to share your knowledge with others.
In any field, you must be an expert and love what you do. You need to have respect for the people you work with. These qualities are required at any level. But as a leader, you take on additional responsibility for those you hire. You need to be able to transfer your knowledge, convey the values of the company, outline and explain your expectations. This should be embedded in the so-called DNA of the company. Since last year, being in such a difficult situation, I believe all managers have mastered an additional skill. We have all turned into motivators striving to support employees’ high spirits. It has been unprecedented for a country to be closed for a whole year. Therefore, the ability to motivate and empathize with people is very important. Inherently women have a higher empathy level, so it is a little easier for them to work with people. After all if you think about it, employees give us the most valuable thing they have: their time. Hence it is very important for a manager to understand this and help employees grow, develop, and achieve their personal goals.
Since March 2020, when COVID-19 invaded permeated the island, what have you learned? What has changed for good in your business and in Cyprus in general?
To me, this past year has been very interesting, even if was really difficult. A large share of our work is with foreigners. Unsurprisingly, if potential clients although very willing are physically unable to get to Cyprus, this creates a difficult situation. We have seen how psychologically difficult the psychological effect it has been for many people to stay at home. But eventually, we have completely switched to remote working, acquired new skills, and learned to operate from anywhere in the world. I can proudly say that all our employees can now professionally communicate with clients and provide a high-level service not only face to face but also online.
This past year has taught us to be more flexible showing knowing that the situation can change instantly. I am not only referring to mean is not the pandemic, but the big change on the real estate market in Cyprus: the termination of the investment citizenship programme. We have realised how important it is for any business and or individual to be able to quickly change direction whilst preserving their core values. For example, back in November we completely reworked the company's development strategy because the market had changed.
Concluding our interview, what would be your message of support to our readers? How do we survive 2021, which also promises to be difficult?
I believe us being in Cyprus is a blessing. We have the opportunity to leave the house, enjoy fresh air, take a walk by the sea, in the forest etc. Very often we take all this for granted, but we must remember the situation could have been much worse. The world has changed, but everything is in our hands. The online opportunities are plenty now abundant. It's time to go beyond your comfort zone and think of what skills you have and what you can do online. The world has expanded. Previously we focused on a particular market, but now looking ahead with the understanding that if you do something well, if you are active online and find your niche, you can have clients from all over the world. I would like to wish everyone who reads this to see the prospects in life and work and appreciate all the beautiful things they have.
CYPRUS SOTHEBY'S INTERNATIONAL REALTY – a member of the world's largest network of luxury real estate brokers with over 1,000 offices in 75 countries.
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