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IREM’s all-female Officer Team shares their successes and challenges on International Women’s Day

March 8th marks a pivotal day in our global calendar: International Women’s Day (IWD). Since its inception well over a century ago, IWD has evolved into a celebration of the remarkable achievements of women across social, economic, cultural, and political spheres. It’s a call to accelerate gender equality worldwide. This year’s IWD theme, “Inspire Inclusion,” is a reflection on the journeys and lessons learned by women in many fields.

This year, in a groundbreaking move, IREM® has made history by establishing yet another all-female Officer Team and its very first all-female Leadership Team. In honor of International Women’s Day 2024, we asked these 2024 IREM President Libby Ekre, CPM®, 2024 IREM President-Elect Dawn Carpenter, CPM®, and 2024 IREM Secretary/Treasurer Mindy Gronbeck, CPM®, CCIM, to shed light on their experiences in real estate management.

What advice would you give your younger self as a woman launching a real estate management career?  

Libby Ekre: Be bold and courageous – because you got this! Real estate cycles are tough, but you’ll make it through. Stay focused on people and enjoy the journey, be proactive, and do a good job - that's your best word of mouth. 

Dawn Carpenter: Do not get easily discouraged when a door closes.

Mindy Gronbeck: When reaching for your goals and aspirations don’t take a “no” as a closed door.  The no is for that moment in time but not forever. It just means “not yet,” so keep moving forward in going after what you want.  

What have you learned that you wish you knew sooner?

Libby Ekre: That giving notice to clients who are not good fits for your culture is the best decision. You won’t regret it, and your employees will thank you for it.

Dawn Carpenter: Catch and release. Some clients are not good for you, know when to let them go.

Mindy Gronbeck: That if I admired another woman in real estate, I should reach out and say so. If they are receptive, I would offer to buy lunch or coffee so I could ask them about their journey and see what I could glean from the conversation. I think most women in leadership would gladly sit down and discuss and offer guidance for those coming behind us! 

In your view, what can women in our profession do to help ensure professional success?

Libby Ekre: Get your CPM® certification and stay involved with the IREM community to stay “in the know.”

Dawn Carpenter: Read current events on the commercial and multifamily markets.

Mindy Gronbeck: We all had our struggles so shouldn’t/couldn’t we all be more aware of noticing future leaders, and encouraging them in their journeys?  

What are the challenges of being a woman in real estate management? How can they be avoided?

Libby Ekre: Underestimating your value.  Be mindful of your thoughts.

Dawn Carpenter: Emotions and a poker face. Always be prepared for the nay-sayers and those who like to derail others. 

What actions did you take to help ensure your own professional success? 

Libby Ekre: Earning CPM certification and then our firm’s AMO® certification, and having our team invest in themselves by joining IREM.

Dawn Carpenter: IREM education.

What resources have you found that were really helpful in building your career? 

Libby Ekre: IREM has the best resources for our business.  From Income/Expense IQ reports to DEI education.  

Dawn Carpenter: I became a CPM and got involved with volunteerism on the local level to grow my sphere of like- minded professionals.

It’s evident that the journeys of these trailblazing women have been marked by resilience, determination, and a commitment to fostering inclusion in their respective fields. Their collective wisdom serves as inspiration for women aspiring to excel in real estate and real estate management.

Beyond IREM, International Women’s Day 2024 signifies a broader movement towards gender equality and inclusivity. While strides have been made in various facets of women’s empowerment, challenges persist, underscoring the need for continued advocacy and action. On a global scale, International Women’s Day has no borders and is celebrated around the world, symbolizing a shared commitment to honoring and uplifting women’s contributions to society. From political rallies to business conferences and grassroots initiatives, the day serves as a platform for amplifying women’s voices and championing the rights of each gender.

Let’s take this time to reaffirm our dedication to building a world where women are valued, empowered, and included. Each of us has a role to play in the journey to gender equality. Together, we can inspire inclusion today, and every day.

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