Through the Glass Ceiling: Property princess

Sarit Saban Shalit turns buying a flat into a dream career.

sarit saban shalit 88 29 (photo credit: )
sarit saban shalit 88 29
(photo credit: )
Buying a new apartment may be a dream come true but it could change your life, as well. This is the tale of Sarit Saban Shalit, an energetic saleswoman, who killed two birds with one stone and now is running a one-woman show in the real estate world. "I got here by chance," says Shalit, vice president marketing & sales at Delek Real Estate Ltd., who is directly involved in the development, design and marketing of some of the most prestigious residential and commercial projects across the country. "I looked for a flat and realized that the real estate market had so many facets of selling a product." In a spontaneous move, Shalit asked her real estate broker for a job and made the switch from marketing politicians to selling real estate. "To sell politicians is also a way of selling but it is shelf selling," explains Shalit. "To develop something from nothing, to seeing the light in the windows and finally selling a project is a long-term investment of time and efforts that gives much more satisfaction." Since she made the switch, nearly 12 years have passed during which Shalit worked her way up through a number of real estate offices in Bnei Brak and Netanya until she was chosen, in 2001, from among many male competitors to develop and market Delek Real Estate's projects. "I started at the bottom of the ladder in the real estate business, so I have the understanding and experience of how property sells and what the buyer is looking for," says Shalit, who holds a BA in Sociology and a Masters in Communications. "This experience is crucial for making decisions when developing a project that will be built over a few years and may not be sold yet." Delek Real Estate, which is 90 percent held by Yitzhak Tshuva's Delek Group, was established in 1999 and has rapidly expanded its activities. The company, today, is one of Israel's leading enterprises in the real estate sector, developing projects such as the 30-story Tzameret Tower in Tel Aviv and the luxurious Dankner by the Sea residential tower in Netanya. During 2005, Delek Real Estate became a public company following a public offering on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange. In addition to Delek Group, Mivtahim, the leading pension fund in Israel, holds 10% of the company's shares. The company's international activities in Canada, the UK, Germany and Sweden are carried out by overseas companies, which are owned by Delek Belron International, a fully-owned Group subsidiary. The Group's activities in Israel are carried out by Delek Real Estate and by Dankner Investments Ltd., a fully owned subsidiary that was acquired during 2004, include development of residential, office and commercial projects. Over the past 10 years there are more and more women entering the real estate market beyond the traditional positions of brokers - a professional field that had been dominated by men. "The property development business has in the past been associated with construction and contractors, a male dominated field," Shalit explains. "Today people are much more demanding and sophisticated in their expectations when choosing a new home regarding colors, design and trends, a development where the female touch makes a great value-added contribution." Shalit notes, however, that women still are predominantly entering the residential real estate market rather than the commercial offices property market as the latter involves much more negotiation and business. "The added value of a woman in the business is that at the end of the day you sell a flat to a woman as you sell a car to a man," says Shalit with a wide smile. "Women are able to see the big picture while getting into small details where every little inch of a flat has its importance." The difference for men, she says is that they generally would not care about the design of an electric plug when the lounge looks great. "I get on any scaffolding on my high heels, but at the same time I can get emotional and very excited about my project folders," Shalit says. waving at me with her high heels, before she jumps up to get her "treasures" out of the closet. "All my projects are like my children," she says enthusiastically, showing me the latest residential projects of the group whether in Azor, Ness Ziona or Kiryat Sharon. For Shalit, only top of the top is enough to match people's demands, while at the same time making the group's projects profitable. "You need a very creative mind and catch the trends - always be three steps ahead to make money in this business," says the stylish and trendy Shalit, who is just 36 years old. For each project, Shalit enjoys the privilege of working with the best. "Every development project consists of me and an outsourced team of architects, contractors, etc. I want to have the best people and I have the privilege of choosing the best, again and again." A couple of years ago, Shalit tried to put her passion and enthusiasm for her job and career on the side to stay at home to raise her twins, but it didn't work. "I understood very quickly that it was not for me and I went back to the working world." If women want to succeed at work, Shalit says they can but she believes what is important for women in today's society, is that they are able to choose between family and career. "Often," she says "there is a problem for career women with kids in that they need to find an employer who understands that they came to do a job, rather than the employer being concerned about how she is going to cope [with the children and not take time off from work]," Shalit observes. "The same concern is not uttered for male employees who are called in for miluim." For Shalit, though, there is no secret to being able to handle workloads, long hours and taking care of the kids. "You have your aunt, the grandmother and most career women I know take work home to finish after putting their kids to bed." The Netanya-born career woman attributes much of her ambition and drive to the environment in which she grew up. "My mother, a kindergarten teacher, and my family always encouraged and supported me to go and study and build a career." Those buildings she builds are proof she's doing just that. Profile of a Powerhouse: Name: Sarit Saban Shalit Born: Netanya Age: 36 Status: Married with 2 kids Education: BA in Sociology, Bar Ilan University MA in Communications Bar Ilan University Professional milestones: Marketing manager at Tabor Gilboa Construction Company, Bnei Brak. Marketing manager at Shaked Company, Netanya. Vice President Marketing & Sales at Delek Real Estate Ltd.