With a long-established career in training and development working with large Welsh companies, law firms and local government, Mandy St John Davey is now a multi-award-winning property entrepreneur, mentor and international speaker.
Just over 25 years ago, when Mandy was forced to change careers due to ill health, she saw an opportunity in the property market and started her journey to become a thriving residential property developer.
Working out of her spare bedroom, Mandy built up a multimillion-pound property portfolio both in the UK and overseas. She has also been a member of Women in Property for many years, a South Wales branch Chairman in 2016/17 and was invited to be their National Chairman in 2019/20; their first National Chairman to come out of Wales in the organisation's 30-year history.
When Mandy’s tenure came to an end, she continued to support the organisation as their National Mentoring Champion helping to deliver their cross-mentoring programmes throughout the UK. She is currently a board member at their National Advisory Group and on other boards.
We sat down with Mandy to find out how she has achieved her trailblazing success.
Hi Mandy! Why is Mentoring so important to you, and how do you look to elevate other women?
When I joined the industry over 25 years ago, there were very few women doing what I am doing now. Therefore, I didn’t have other women who I could go to, run ideas past, or ask for advice. There was nobody in the industry to champion me and very often I felt very alone.
Over the years, more women have joined the industry. There have been many changes, but there is still a lot of work to be done regarding fairness, gender and equality. It is well documented that there is difficulty in retaining women mid-career within the industry and supporting them with the many challenges they face.
Mentoring is extremely beneficial in most of these cases and that is why I feel it is so important. It is also paramount for women who (like myself) want or need to set up their own businesses. Mentoring is always a two-way street and the mentor often learns new skills from their mentee and it certainly benefits the mentor's leadership skills. I hope to continue to support women to accelerate their development and provide any shortcuts that I am able to offer for their success. Whether that be within the industry or enabling them to build their own property portfolios
Tell us about your work with the Association of Women In Property
Women in Property is a professional networking organisation that creates opportunities, expands knowledge and inspires change for women working in the property and construction industry.
It has 14 branches throughout the UK and it links members to fellow professionals across sectors and the UK. It is multi-disciplinary, encouraging an exchange of ideas and sharing of expertise, often through its extensive schedule of best practice workshops, site visits, keynote talks and social events. It has a successful cross-disciplinary national mentoring programme, school outreach programmes, and a National Students Awards programme for second-year graduates studying in the built environment. In its 30-year-old history, the organisation has gone from strength to strength.
What have been your greatest career accomplishments
I would say one of my greatest career accomplishments is being respected by my peers. That is often a challenge when you are an “entrepreneur” in an arena full of individuals with a defined profession. Whether that’s a building surveyor, architect, planner or lawyer, you are often viewed very differently, and often you don’t fit in anywhere. It is something I have had to work on for many years!
I would also have to say another was achieving my own goal very early on, setting up my business and making that first million from my spare bedroom.
What advice do you wish you could share with your younger self?
Be more confident and don’t worry about what other people think. Certainly, I would be telling my younger self to be more self-assured and not to fear failure. The sooner you experience failure in life the quicker you learn the lesson and move on to become better than you were yesterday. Just keep pushing yourself a little further each time, surround yourself with good people who will support and inspire you, and walk away from negativity and things that do not serve you. Don’t waste a single second in life, but be mindful to remember also, that leisure time is not wasted time, it is equally important for our health and wellbeing.
What has been the secret to your success?
Everyone measures success in different ways. For me, it was achieving financial freedom. My journey into property started when I was challenged with an ill health problem. I had a high-powered job on a very good salary but had to seriously reconsider my future if I was going to safeguard my health.
So, I guess it started with my WHY. There is nothing more powerful than being clear about what it is you want to achieve and therefore for me, my why ensured I was committed and passionate about achieving my goals. I have always written down my goals and put a timeline alongside them.
This was really important for me in those early days as it was also clear I didn’t want to be on state benefits.
It is very true that when you know your why, your “what” has more impact because you’re working towards your purpose.
I set out a strategy that would enable me to replace my income, leave employment, and work from home. Throughout that journey, I acquired many skills that I have now been able to share with others and offer integrity, resilience, determination, leadership, creativity and generosity. I am passionate about everything I engage in, otherwise, I don’t get involved and I don’t chase success, but what I know and have experienced in life I am always ready to share openly with others.