The owner of a Birmingham property consultancy has taken over the reins today as the first female president of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).

Louise Brooke-Smith, founder of Brooke Smith Planning, is the first woman to take on the top job in the body's 146-year history and plans to focus on three core areas during her one-year tenure - diversity, Africa and planning and land economics.

She will take her chains of office today and give her inaugural speech tomorrow during RICS' governing council meeting in London.

Ms Brooke-Smith has worked in the industry for nearly 30 years and is also a visiting fellow at Sheffield Hallam University.

She said: "Chartered surveying is a globally recognised profession and we must ensure that it is open to all, whatever their background, or gender.

"We are a proud industry but have lagged behind others in terms of making the most of a diverse workforce.

"That's why I'm delighted that RICS 'Surveying the Future' campaign will be a pillar of my presidential term and will help drive change across industry to ensure we attract and retain the very best talent.

"I have been elected on my individual merits and not because of my gender. While it might have taken some years, someone has to be first and I am extremely proud that it's me.

"We have a female senior vice-president, Amanda Clack, and UK and Ireland world regional chair, Fiona Grant, so I hope I am the first of many women who will help shape the institution."

RICS accredits over 118,000 qualified professionals across the globe in land, real estate, construction and infrastructure.

Ms Brooke-Smith succeeds outgoing RICS president Michael Newey.

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