Uncategorised 20 March 2020

Celebrating the women behind Downing

By Stephanie Bocking

March is a month for celebrating women all over the world, so we’re taking some time to recognise our female colleagues and all they bring to the organisation, and shine a light on just a few of our many leading women here at Downing.

Jingjing Xu is the general manager for Downing China and is based in Beijing. With over a decade of experience in the student sector, Jingjing works with a team based in three major regions across China to connect with students looking to study abroad in the UK and help them to easily access and arrange their student accommodation in the UK.

Jingjing oversees Downing Students’ social media platforms in China and also takes the time to prep and advise the students that come to her for help.

The number of Chinese students coming to the UK to study is steadily increasing and rose by 20% last year, making Jingjing’s job even more key.

Jingjing said: “Studying abroad offers a brilliant opportunity to get to know and become part of a new community and experience a different culture and environment. Downing’s team makes a huge effort to provide opportunities and communal activities and spaces that help to ensure that students are able to integrate, get to know each other, and build positive relationships. Studying abroad is an exciting time in peoples’ lives and can be a really rich experience.

“I’m so proud to be part of the team working to engage with and support Chinese students and build the Downing brand here in China. Downing’s team is full of inspiring, strong women and it is great to be celebrating the role they play and the incredible contribution they make.”

Michaela Graham works on Downing Construction’s team as a design manager. With a background in architectural design, Michaela is responsible for managing teams of consultants, architects and engineers. She is currently working on Downing’s new School of Arts Building for Leeds Beckett University, a project that has allowed her to deepen her design management experience

Michaela plays a key part in the success of the building project, using her organisational skills to bring together a diverse range of specialists to deliver an outstanding project.

When asked what her favourite part of the job was, Michaela highlighted the comradery among her colleagues. She said: “Working in such a dynamic department has allowed me to manage and communicate within a talented, multi-disciplinary team.

“Construction does have a reputation as an industry where women struggle to thrive, but that hasn’t been my experience at all and I’m really pleased to be part of a business that is working to improve equality at all levels.”

Ann Lodge is joint chief executive of Downing and has been part of the business’ senior team for over 30 years. Over this time, Ann has helped the business to grow and develop into one of the UK’s leading student accommodation developers and investors.

Passionate about ensuring that students are provided with the best possible experience, Ann works closely with leading universities across the UK to ensure Downing has partnerships in place that enhance the student experience.

Ann plays a leading role in deciding the strategic direction of the business alongside chief executive George Downing and joint chief executive Sally O’Brien. With responsibility for marketing and business development she has been instrumental in establishing the Downing brand and developing the company’s reputation across the UK.

Ann Lodge, said: “Over the last three decades, Downing has experienced sustained growth and is now an award-winning leader in the sector, and it’s been so inspiring to be a part of the business’ journey.

“The property industry has experienced a significant evolution in terms of the role women play in the sector and at Downing, we’re incredibly proud of the brilliant women who have played, and continue to play, such a critical role in the company’s success.

“This March, we’re celebrating the women who make such a huge contribution to Downing every day, and we look forward to welcoming more talented women across all our teams and seeing both new and existing team members continue to flourish and grow with the business.”

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