Shattered Ceilings: How 7 Leaders in the GTA Real Estate Industry Got Where They Are
This is a man’s world … no more. So say the strong, confident women who are leading the way in the GTA’s real estate and development industry.
While the faces in the field may not yet reflect gender parity, women are powering through the testosterone-lined ceiling in growing numbers. In celebration of International Women’s Day, some of those high achievers share their thoughts and experiences.
Heather Lloyd, 39, vice-president, sales and marketing, Graywood Developments
Heather Lloyd didn’t have to look far for inspiration and encouragement as she launched her career in her early 20’s. Surrounded by strong women in family and business, she had “good people to mentor me along the way.”
Lloyd’s 17 years in real estate have been a positive experience.
“I never really felt like it was a disadvantage being a woman. I always felt like a person at the table.”
With a degree in social studies, she started work in a presentation centre then did research into the housing market before joining The Daniels Corporation’s marketing department. She moved to Graywood Developments last summer.
“You have to go after things,” she advises women. “Be an advocate for yourself and what you believe in, whether it’s a job you want, or a position you think you’re ready for, or the pay you deserve.”
Taya Cook, 37, director of development, Urban Capital
It was a summer job 15 years ago that took psychology graduate Taya Cook into real estate where she “instantly fell in love.”
Now, she plays a lead role in stick-handling condominium projects, from pre-construction to completion, for one of the city’s top developers.
“At the end of the day you’re delivering houses to people, which is very rewarding,” says Cook, who was something of a pioneer earlier in her career.
“It was sad. I could go for months being the only female at the table,” she says of meetings with professionals involved in real estate. These days, there might be two or three — a sign of slow progress.
Cook, who lists integrity, organizational skills and fairness as factors behind her success, wants women to know “there’s a place for them” in the industry.
“Listen, there are some fantastic opportunities and jobs that could use a female perspective.”
Katie Fong, 27, director, asset management, Slate Asset Management
Still in her 20’s, Katie Fong manages a portfolio of properties for her firm. She also holds a degree in business administration from Ivey Business School.
“A lot still happens on the golf course, and I get to take part in that. It’s a great networking opportunity and I encourage women to participate more in outings like that,” she says of the relationship-building opportunities that can benefit women.
Outside of the office, she finds that men sometimes talk “just to be heard.” But Fong prefers to speak up when she can articulate a thoughtful, informed contribution. Women who are quiet or shy shouldn’t be perceived as weak or unqualified, she points out.
It takes two to give women a leg up on the corporate ladder, says Fong, who joined Slate in 2013.
“It’s absolutely the role of both men and women — with the emphasis on men — to support women and help them accelerate in the industry.”