When Ugo Arinzeh arrived in London in 2011, she immediately spotted a gap in the estate agency market.
Having grown up in the States, she was used to a property system in which buyers hire a real estate agent to accompany them to viewings, negotiate on their behalf and represent them throughout the buying process. In the UK, as we know, things are a little different!
Ugo saw there was a real need for a similar model in London, in particular for overseas buyers. Onyx Property Consultants is the only agent of it’s kind in London to offer a one-stop shop, bespoke property service. In addition, to the buying, letting and selling services, the consultancy also offers interior design and property management for their international and local clients.
Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role.
My name is Ugo Arinzeh and I am a property consultant. I set up my business Onyx Property Consultants in 2012. We are independent estate agents that are part of Keller Williams Realty, the world’s largest estate agency. I have an MBA in finance and started my career as a real estate investment banker. Along the way, I have invested in property and done small scale residential refurbishment projects, so when I launched Onyx, it gave me the perfect opportunity to utilise my entire background and expertise to help my clients.
Did you ever sit down and plan your career?
Well, yes to a degree. Education was always stressed in our family so it was expected we would have a college degree and pursue a formal profession, like medicine, law or banking so I stayed on that path. I “broke” away from family expectations by leaving a lucrative banking career to work for a small architectural firm, move to London and then launch my own business in a foreign country.
Have you faced any challenges along the way?
Of course! Who hasn’t?? I’ve faced the challenges of succeeding and progressing in a banking world dominated by white men. I have had to deal with criticisms and assessments that were not always fair and may have been based on prejudices. I also face constant challenges in building my business that I have to overcome regularly. Whether that’s a difficult client with unreasonable expectations or losing a listing opportunity to another agent. What I have learned for sure is that in the journey of life, challenges will always be present.
One of my favourite quotes is: “Don’t wish it was easier, wish you were better. Don’t wish for less problems, wish for more skills. Don’t wish for less challenges, wish for more wisdom.”
What has been your biggest achievement to date?
I would say it was moving to London and starting my own business in a country where I hadn’t lived very long.
What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?
I would have say two things have helped me achieve success – resilience and persistence. I believe they are truly the key ingredients needed. More than education, intelligence, connections, etc. if you have resilience and the persistence to get up, dust yourself off, look to learn/improve and carry on, you will succeed in anything you set out to accomplish. I’ve also come to realise that when you look at the most successful people in the world, they have a mindset that is all about resilience and persistence in the face of adversity.
How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee?
I do believe in the power of mentoring and have been mentored by others throughout my career. I think mentoring helps give perspective and encouragement as the mentee tries to navigate the world, or their particular situation. Also for the young, it’s particularly helpful to see people who look like them and are achieving, as it lets them know that they too can achieve.
If you could change one thing to accelerate the pace of change for Gender Parity, what would it be?
I think the more that women are in positions of leadership and power, the more they will be able to empower young girls and other women to achieve in those areas. Also affordable child care and flexibility in work schedules would help many mothers continue to work.
If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self what would it be?
Work on your mindset and realise that failure is part of the process. Surround yourself with positive people and seek out mentors and senior people in all parts of the organisation or area you are in.
What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?
I have given myself a written goal to generate a certain amount of business this year. This is not just for the money I will earn but for what it will allow me to do to improve the lives of my family and others that need my help.