Skip to content

Ella Magill on International Women’s Day

Happy International Women’s Day!

What better way to mark the annual celebration of brilliant women and their positive impact on society than talking to one of our very own inspirational female leaders, Ella Magill.

One year into her tenure as MD at Alliance, and building to 20 years within the business, Ella’s attitude and impact on the workplace has been huge.

We caught up with Ella to ask her about this year’s IWD theme, “inspire inclusion”, and her career path in the male-dominated sector of commercial property.

How did you start your career in property?


My journey into the property industry actually started with my grandad who owned a building business. I have a lot of fond memories spending time with him on his building sites. Even as a three-year-old, I can remember being perched on scaffolding which doesn’t quite conform with today’s health and safety requirements! It is a time I remember warmly and a world I have always felt familiar and comfortable in.

After GCSEs, I decided to undertake an ISVA Diploma, which covered a large range of different subjects – such as Economics, Building Surveying, Valuations, and Law. It was my prelude to becoming a surveyor. I was one of only two women on my course.

I went on to undertake a degree in Urban Land Economics at Sheffield which I really enjoyed. Looking back, through this lens I realise it was also very male-dominated – at the time only circa 15% of participants on the course were women.


I graduated around the time of the Manchester bomb in 1996 and following this there were a number of opportunities for graduates as there was a lot of work be done to rebuild Manchester. I’m very proud to have worked on many of the projects that have transformed and shaped the city into what it is today. Manchester is such an ambitious city, and I really enjoy the opportunity to continue to shape its future.


What was it like being a woman early in your career?

When I started my career at a large private practice, I had a few female colleagues, which again was the norm. It wasn’t unusual to receive inappropriate comments about what I was wearing or how I looked, once receiving a comment “The fashion police won’t like you wearing trousers”. Clearly, times have moved on significantly – thankfully!


How did you succeed in such a male-dominated industry?

I hadn’t really thought about it until you asked me - I just got on with it. I was incredibly lucky that my parents were massively supportive and encouraging towards me and were such an inspiration in my life. They just believed in me and let me learn from my own mistakes. They gave me the confidence to trust in myself. Teaching me that if you have a work hard ethos and determination you will succeed. Which I like to think has proven true in my life so far!

What was Property Alliance Group like when you joined?

When I first arrived, I was the only professional female in the business. But this changed very quickly as we expanded welcoming more women to the team. Today women play pivotal roles across all departments which clearly contributes significantly to Alliance’s success and is a positive influence on our culture.

Which female role models do you look up to?

I find the Suffragettes a massive inspiration. Particularly since the work we did supporting the “Our Emmeline” Statue of Emmeline Pankhurst, which stands proud in front of our double stack hotel development NO 3 St Peter’s Square. We got to spend time with her granddaughter, Helen Pankhurst, and had the opportunity to really find out what they went through. During the process, I learnt much more about her and the incredible work she and the Suffragettes did.


It’s incredible to reflect on the fact that women then didn’t have such basic rights as voting – and we just take that for granted today. We’ve come a long way since then, but there are still some old-fashioned organisations, that women can’t go to even today.

More recently, I also find Madonna to be an inspirational figure. She’s just so unapologetic, for being her and just like my parents have taught me, you need to embrace your strength, and independence whoever you are.

What advice would you give to women looking to get into the property industry?

I often speak to young people who are thinking of working in the property industry, and many of them are females. There are more coming into the sector which is positive. I think that the routes into the industry have also improved and make it more accessible, whether that be through university or an apprenticeship. The world has changed, and employers aren’t just looking for people who have RICS accredited degrees - more and more people are undertaking conversion courses or work experience within the industry, which gives you a broader approach and a wider set of skills, which is better for us as a future employer of course.

But most importantly, perhaps, just like my parents taught me, you just have to try. You should find out about the industry – a work placement is a great way to gain practical experience. It may feel daunting, but I really believe you can succeed through hard work, willpower and determination. Go out there, be yourself, and do it!