Maria talks to Gulf Entrepreneur magazine - In a world where gender equality is still a work in progress, there are women who challenge the norm and refuse to be defined and held back by societal constraints. Especially, in the ultra-competitive world of real estate which has long been viewed as a male dominated business, a new wave of driven women leaders are standing up and taking charge, proving that success knows no gender. Breaking the mold, shattering the glass ceiling, and fearlessly forging ahead, these commanding women remind us that with hard work, determination, and courage and passion, boundaries are simply there to be broken down. With their sharp business acumen, strategic thinking, and bold decision-making, they not only elevatet heir own careers but also inspire others in the industry to pursue their dreams and shatter the limits of what is possible.One such fearless, trail-blazing female leader in the real estate industry is Maria Morris, the Founder & CEO of Maria Morris Real Estate, based in Dubai, UAE.
A woman of many achievements, Maria is a true global trailblazer in the real estate industry with extensive experience spanning more than two decades. Throughout her career, she has worked with many top global real estate brands in key Senior positions. Most recently,Maria held the esteemed position of Partner – Head of Residential at Knight Frank Middle East, spearheading their Prime and Super-Prime Residential division, as well as holding a position on it’s Global Residential Board. With a proven and established reputation in the market, she has forged her own career path and has become a distinguished speaker at global real estate events. Her insights have been featured in top-tier publications such as the Financial Times, Mansion Global, The Times, Forbes, Gulf News, The National, and The Telegraph, cementing her reputation as an expert in the property sector. Maria’s unwavering commitment to excellence has also caught the attention of many, including the producers of Million Dollar Listing Los Angeles, where she has featured in two episodes of Season 11.
The Profound Journey to Success
Whilst working as an employee within these leading real estate firms, Maria always dreamed of launching her own agency. However, like many aspiring entrepreneurs, the comfort and security of working for large corporate organisations and the lure of a regular salary, provided her a perfect excuse to delay making the bold move to fly solo and set up her own agency. But then, 2020 came knocking, and the world was turned upside down by the global pandemic.The pandemic gave us all an opportunity to hit the reset button and for Maria, it was a moment of reflection and a chance to pursue her true calling. As a senior female in the industry, it has always been important for her to be an advocate for women in business and empower other females in the real estate industry, and there was no better way to do so than by setting up her own female-led agency. Thus, Maria Morris Real Estate was born. Breaking barriers and making history, Maria became the first expat woman to fully own a real estate brokerage in Dubai, a remarkable achievement that she is immensely proud of and rightly so.
As someone whose career has always been a crucial part of her identity, leaving behind the success of the corporate world was a significant step for her.But today, she is thrilled by the phenomenal response the company has received over the last 12+ months. “I am a very strong individual and have always had confidence in my convictions; however, it was now going to be my name above the door (literally!) So, it was incredibly important for me to ensure we created a brand that not only aligned with our HNW international clientele, but that was innovative and agile, whilst delivering exceptional service,” asserts Maria. The avid leader attributes her success to her clients, connections, industry peers, friends, and family, who have been a strong support system throughout her journey and have been rooting for her from the sidelines.
Offering Global Real Estate Expertise At All Levels
Over the past 20 years, Maria has had the privilege of representing some of the world’s most exceptional prime and super-prime properties. Along the way, she has also forged strong relationships with top-tier real estate agents and developers from all corners of the globe. Her extensive experience of working in both the UK and the UAE, coupled with an impressive track record of conducting business across key international markets spanning the USA, Europe, and Asia has provided her with a global lens which is paramount for servicing the needs of the global clientele. “Dubai is an incredibly diverse city with over 200 different nationalities living and working here, so it is important that our company can offer advice and expertise for our clients across both their UAE and global property portfolios,” opines Maria.
Under her indomitable leadership, today Maria Morris Real Estate is breaking new ground in the luxury property market across the UAE. Its vision isto utilize cutting-edge creative and innovative approaches to property marketing. It not only specializes in prime & super prime properties, but its development consultancy expertise adds another string to its bow; given Maria’s personal experience from working on the developer side of the fence in the UK for 15 years, and also providing the residential consultancy for the Residences at the iconic Atlantis The Royal project on the Palm Jumeirah from its conception back in 2014. “Ultimately our business is all about long-term relationships. And ensuring we cultivate our connections and deliver exceptional service is the key to the continued success of our company going forward,” adds Maria.
Leading From the Front
As a female working in a very male-dominated industry, Maria believes in leading from the front and strives to support other women in business. “Let’s be real, the journey can definitely be a rollercoaster of emotions and sleepless nights at times, and there are a lot of highs and lows, especially in the early days! But I wouldn’t change it for the world, and if I can empower just one individual to take that leap of faith to pursue their dreams, then I will be incredibly happy to leave that legacy,” affirms Maria.
Early on in her career, Maria had the privilege of working for an incredibly inspirational female leader who shaped her leadership style. She was confident, empowering, driven, and determined and was not afraid to go toe to toe with any of her male counterparts. This left a lasting impression on Maria and motivated her to incorporate those same qualities into her own leadership approach. “My own leadership style is now one of balance, our industry is incredibly fast-paced and we have to spin multiple plates, so I have very exacting standards and expectations, but I also want to be empathic to the needs of my employees,” shares Maria. The ardent leader has built a team of exceptional individuals and created a culture of support and collaboration where everyone can flourish and succeed collectively. Her goal is to leave a legacy of empowerment, inspiring others to take a leap of faith and pursue their dreams.
A Promising Future Ahead
Speaking on the future endeavorsof the company, Maria is incredibly excited about what lies ahead. Despite the remarkable accomplishments the company has achieved in a relatively short span of time, Maria believes this is just the beginning. From a personal perspective, she has always been a big believer in continued professional and personal development, and being an entrepreneur has certainly pushed the boundaries for her. “I love that this next chapter of my journey is one of innovation, agility, and creativity, and we are working on some major initiatives right now. I can’t wait to see what the future holds, so please watch this space,” concludes Maria.