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Date: 10 March 2021

Author: Rachel Bartlett

In 2018 when Dame Helena Morrissey DBE won the award for her work raising awareness of the importance of gender diverse boards as part of her 30% Club initiative, we applauded it.

MSP has always had a history of making key hires based solely on ability and personality. The result of this belief, has been a very naturally curated, diverse team.

Outside of MSP we recognise that it’s still a very different story. While efforts are being made across sectors within the property and development marketplace to improve the long-standing gender disparities, progression is at a slow pace, and women in this industry are still a minority, especially at leadership and senior levels.

This year, the conversation surrounding the disproportionate impacts Covid-19 has had on women in business over their male counterparts, has again highlighted the importance of continuing to support women in business. As it’s International Women’s Week we thought we’d take the time to highlight five women who are paving the way for those to come and have demonstrated significant successes throughout their career.


Laura Marino

Creative Director and co-founder of Alchemi Group and founder of Studio L, London

Laura founded Alchemi Group in 2002 alongside Charlie Baxter and now acts as it’s Creative Director. The company was born out of a passion to bring great design of quality to the built environment and has grown to be a highly regarded acquisition and design-led development management firm. With an emphasis on conceptual, architectural and interior design, the company is behind a number of award-winning developments, including RIBA London Awards 2017 for 55 Victoria Street.

As a natural extension of Alchemi Group, Laura founded her interior design studio aptly named Studio L, London. Laura has conceptualised, designed and overseen an extensive portfolio of prime central London real estate developments. Currently, Studio L is working on Westminster Fire Station for Alchemi Group, which is being transformed into a boutique collection of 17 one to three-bedroom bespoke apartments arranged over two buildings.


Rebekah Harris

Finance Director, MSP Capital

Selected as a finalist for the ‘Finance Director of the South Coast of England’ award’. Becky joined MSP Capital in 2015 after pursuing a career with respected national brands. Her expertise has been pivotal to inspire and co-ordinate the growth of MSP. Both negotiating investment and external interest, she has facilitated our continued and exponential loan book growth. And all whilst helping our team and clients navigate a global pandemic.

At MSP we always say that we’re ‘experience beyond finance’ as we strive to give our clients the utmost in service level and knowledge to help them navigate the property and construction industry, and Becky breathes this through and through. Any finance director needs an acute attention to detail, that’s a given, however it’s her entrepreneurial drive and absolute dedication to each part of MSP which makes her so important to the ongoing success of us as a company and as a team. We feel incredibly fortunate to have her business acumen, energetic personality and friendly smiles as a key member of MSP Capital.


Jennifer Benningfield

Principal at Openstudio Architects

In 2006 Jennifer founded RIBA Chartered Architectural practice Openstudio Architects. In 2017, Jennifer and her team won the international open RIBA Taylor Wimpey 2020 competition to design prototype housing across the UK. Today, the studio is the chosen practice to implement this prototype – the ‘Infinite House’ and has a long track record of success, having been shortlisted for and awarded a multitude of international awards.

Before founding Openstudio, she gained experience on museum and art gallery projects in the US and Europe, most notably the Getty Antiquities Museum in Malibu (for Machado and Silvetti), the Corning Glass Museum in New York (for Smith-Miller Hawkinson) and the installation of the Francis Bacon studio into the Hugh Lane Gallery in Dublin (for David Chipperfield Architects).  A published author, Jennifer studied architecture at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg before completing a Masters degree at Princeton University in New Jersey, USA, and a PhD at the Bartlett School of Architecture in London.


She now leads her team in completing new-build and refurbishment schemes across the globe, most recently Westminster Fire Station in Victoria, London, where she has worked tirelessly to ensure the Grade II listed building’s heritage is honoured, both in the transformation of the former Fire Station and in the construction of the Station House into 17 apartments


Zaha Hadid 1950-2016

Architect, first female winner of the Pritzker Architecture Prize, in 2004, founder of the Zaha Hadid agency

Zaha Hadid’s legacy now spans in excess of 950 projects across 44 countries and she is widely regarded as the world’s most famous female architect. However it took a long time to push against the traditional boundaries and find clients who believed in her abilities and her visions of work. Refusing to be held back by traditional scopes of design she relied solely on her physics and mathematical equations to create feats of engineering that take design to the next level and beyond. Instantly iconic she also chose to pioneer sustainable materials within her builds, requiring material to be drawn from the country in which she was developing where possible, to ensure local trades had work and her planetary footprint was lowered. Receiving award after award, her story is too long to progress within this blog piece, but grab a coffee and enjoy searching for her work online. It’s breathtaking and is a powerful message both to women and men everywhere, to remain firm in your beliefs, vision and work ethic.


Jessica Parsley

Development Manager, Clivedale London

Jessica completed her architectural training whilst working for Terry Farrell and Partners, registering with the Architect Registration Board in 2014. As of February 2018, Jessica has been managing the delivery of, Mayfair based super-prime developer, Clivedale London’s second ultra-prime commercial offering, 73-77 Brook Street – overseeing the full project cycle of the 16,000. sq. ft office project which will be launching this year.

Prior to joining Clivedale, Jessica managed both design and construction phases on a variety of high-end residential projects, such as Chelsea Waterfront, Earls Court Phase One and Paddington Gardens as well as the £1bn, 1,000,000 sqft, over station development at North Greenwich for Knight Dragon.

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