Podcast Summary: 032 Property, Finance and Real Estate with Maria Wiedner

Maria Wiedner is the CEO of Cambridge Finance a specialist real estate training and consulting company, which she founded in 2016 with the aim to teach property professionals more about finance. Maria’s passion for property finance and particularly financial modelling is built on her highly quantitative career history, having been an index and financial analyst in several companies in the City of Lond

Maria also founded Real Estate Women in December 2012 as she saw the need to gather the real estate community to discuss gender equality in the industry. She is now determined to improve the quality of discussion about racism in the built environment and has published the RE:Women Manifesto for an Anti-Racist Built Environment.

She is a CFA Charterholder, Member of the RICS, and a graduate from the University of Cambridge. She was born in Brazil, but her family is from Okinawa, Japan, and she speaks English, German, Finnish, Spanish and Portuguese fluently.

Connecting People in Property and Finance

Maria starts by explaining the idea behind Cambridge Finance, and how she got involved in the real estate industry.

“I’ve always looked at property with the idea of generating income for the person that buys it. What I have realised is that there are two types of people in this investment game: one are the people that know a lot about property, but know nothing about finance, and the other are people who know a lot about finance, but understand nothing about property. This is how Cambridge Finance came about, with the idea to teach the property people finance, and teach the finance people property, and bring those two worlds together.”

“So far, it’s always been like the bank people, the mortgage people, the investors, and the property people doing the leasing, the letting, the surveying, and the valuation as well, which is a very important part, because finance people don’t understand how property is valued. And then the property people don’t understand how a cash flow works. So we are bringing those two areas of knowledge together, and trying to translate the commonality of it, because there’s a lot of things that are the same, it’s just that we call them different.”

Living and Working Internationally

Maria has lived, studied and worked in multiple countries in Europe, as well as in the United States and her home country Brazil. She gained lots of international and intercultural experience, as well as fluency in five languages.

“At 16 I moved from Brazil to Finland. At this young age, being a teenager, you think you know the world, and then you go to a country that is so different, and you get the culture shock. Then you think to yourself, well, people are people, wherever they are in the world, it doesn’t matter how different they are, because we are all humans at the end of the day. So it was an amazing experience. Once you start with this experience, it stays with you, it’s kind of a bug that you get!”

She then continues talking about her experience of working in different environments.

“My first working experience, which was at Footsy, was fantastic, because it was very international. When I was working there, I felt like I was one of the many because the financial industry is very diverse, and because I was covering European countries. They appreciated that your different knowledge was valuable, which was different than if you just worked in a very British environment, and deal with one type of person, and your work is not exposed internationally. But then the property industry is not as diverse as the financial markets, and that’s why I started the whole idea of Real Estate Women.“

What Real Estate Women is About

“RE: Women came about,” Maria continues, “because after working in an international environment that was quite diverse at the base, when I came into the property markets it was a culture shock, because I realised that there was only one type of person that could succeed, and that was the white middle class man. This made me very uncomfortable, because in what I do, which is a very specific field of property finance, people have to hire me not for what I look, so I was always the only woman in the teams I was working at and it felt really isolated.”

“So I reached out to other women, we started the group on LinkedIn, and it grew very organically. I started doing the meetups, and although it was great to be connected, we started to think how we are going to take this further and have an impact. We concluded that we needed role models. So the whole idea of RE: Women is that we’re going to give visibility to the women there, and we have not only senior women speaking, but also junior and apprentice. And we don’t have just one type of industry, it’s not only about residential, or only about commercial, it’s also about surveying, law, planning, architecture. We bring together different types of sectors of the built environment.”

Developing Leadership Skills and Style

We wanted to know what Maria learned from her leadership experience and as the CEO of Cambridge Finance.

“There is this thing about you being the CEO, and you being self-employed, so there’s this huge gap. But I have learned to be the CEO of my company, in that I’m starting to lead and recruit more people. I urge people to try to do volunteering jobs like I do at RE: Women, to learn that the leadership there is not a transactional leadership. I depend on people, I depend on goodwill. It’s leading by motivation, by giving people the aim and trying to have a common goal. Because when you lead, you don’t lead only for yourself, you lead for a group of people, and for something that you believe is the higher good,” she concludes. 

Maria Wiedner is the CEO of Cambridge Finance, a specialist real estate training and consulting company, which she founded in 2016 with the aim to teach property professionals more about finance. Maria’s passion for property finance and particularly financial modelling is built on her highly quantitative career history, having been an index and financial analyst in several companies in the City of London.

Maria also founded Real Estate Women in December 2012 as she saw the need to gather the real estate community to discuss gender equality in the industry. She is now determined to improve the quality of discussion about racism in the built environment and has published the RE:Women Manifesto for an Anti-Racist Built Environment.

Maria is a CFA Charterholder, Member of the RICS, and a graduate from the University of Cambridge. She was born in Brazil, but her family is from Okinawa, Japan, and she speaks English, German, Finnish, Spanish and Portuguese fluently.

What We Cover:

  • Maria’s international background and experience
  • What is Cambridge Finance and what they do
  • How RE:Women came about
  • The importance of diversity in the real estate industry
  • Developing leadership skills and leadership style

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