Julia Murueta is the Head of FP&A at PropertyGuru Group, Asia’s go-to property tech company and a leader in all of its markets. It is currently in the phase of transforming into a high-growth technology company and FP&A is helping to shape that path. It prides itself on its continuous technological innovation and leverages Artificial Intelligence to personalise the experience for property seekers. Prior to joining PropertyGuru, Julia worked in Finance and Consulting roles across various industries such as Media and Financial Services.
Can you tell us about your career journey thus far?
I’d heard about the amount of training and personal development that the Big 4 provides and thought it suited me, which was why I applied for a placement year at KPMG. They really do invest in their people so it was a great place to start. During my time there, I focused on Financial Services and stayed for over 6 years before transitioning to an FP&A role at a digital marketing agency. In 2018, I joined PG as Head of FP&A and have been leading the team for nearly 9 months now. I love the pace of change and energy everyone has here, and I really enjoy the commercial aspect that FP&A brings to Finance.
Looking back at your career to date, can you pinpoint when you first noticed an emphasis on diversity and inclusion around you?
KPMG was the first place where I experienced real diversity in the workplace. While it’s not perfect, I could see people from all walks of life having the opportunity to progress and succeed. Having worked in Financial Services, I’ve seen clients who were particularly behind in terms of diversity, so it was nice to be a part of something that was more progressive.
You have served in multiple capacities throughout your career; do you feel that diversity and inclusion is a feature of only certain industry sectors or job functions?
It is quite unique working in Finance at a Tech company as I can see it from both angles. From my personal experience, there have been many talented females on the Finance side. However, I think there is still a long way to go on the Tech side when it comes to diversity, which has been a hot topic for many tech companies. It is mostly driven by a skill gap, but schools are actively addressing this now so I’m hopeful it won’t be the case for my daughter’s generation.
Do you think that your gender has ever hindered you or blocked any personal progression?
Personally for me, I would say no, but I do see this being an issue the higher you progress within an organisation. I was reading an Annual Report from a FTSE 100 media company recently and was really disheartened by the lack of diversity in the leadership, both in gender and race. These are the people who make decisions to take the company in a certain direction and if they’re not representative of their employees or customers then I believe there is an issue.
How do you balance long hours with your personal life successfully?
I am lucky to have found a great company and boss that gives me flexibility, so I don’t have to stay in the office late and can log in at home if needed. My team has the same flexibility and it works well for us. I believe that when you focus on delivering high-quality work rather than clocking certain hours you’ll get much more out of it.
Do you have any advice for working moms on how to progress and succeed?
Our CEO talks about being passionate about our work and this really resonates with me. I can’t imagine being a working mum and not enjoying going to work or feeling enthusiastic about making an impact. Enjoying your work as well as the company of the people you work with is a must for me. I also think it is important to build trust with the people around you, once you have that then you will often see new opportunities arise.
Have you had a particular role model or someone who has inspired you along the way?
Looking back at my school days, I realise I actually had some great female teachers who inspired me without me knowing it at the time. They really encouraged me to work hard and be the best I can and that helped set up my career path. Apart from that, my mum went to university after having five children which showed me that it’s never too late to achieve your goals.
Do you feel that you gravitate towards either female or male leaders, and how do you think having diverse leadership in an organisation is beneficial?
For me, the behaviours and values of an individual are far more important than their gender or any other identity. When all your leaders have similar profiles though, issues can arise as you risk certain ways of thinking not being valued and this can suppress innovation.
What's your advice to leaders who want to create a more diverse and inclusive culture?
Have more diversity at the highest level of the organisation. We should be thinking about diversity in all aspects, not just in terms of gender, as it leads to better decision making, fresher ideas and a more inspired workforce.