Women in Leadership: Engel & Völkers Vancouver prioritizes supportive culture, work-life balance and mentorship

Engel & Völkers Vancouver is thriving in a competitive industry, thanks in no small part to its female workforce and company culture. RICH LAM

If you were to look at Katie Burkard’s career to date, you would see someone who is not just given leadership opportunities, but someone who creates them for herself – and others.

In 2004, she co-founded a niche loft specialty company. Then in 2006, she co-founded a boutique real estate brokerage in Vancouver, where she was integral in creating a team environment offering a unique and fresh approach to the industry. Burkard brings all of her previous learning and experience to Engel & Völkers Vancouver as a partner real estate advisor. (The brokerage uses the term ‘advisor’, rather than realtor or real estate agent.) Both recruitment and mentorship are big priorities for her.

Katie Burkard, partner, Engel & Völkers Vancouver. RICH LAM

Burkard is on a mission to support other women in discovering their full potential, within the notoriously competitive real estate industry. It’s no coincidence that this also happens to be one of Engel & Völkers Vancouver’s core values.

“I was constantly being asked to go for coffee by people who heard about the collaborative, inclusive approach we have here,” she says. “We always want to build each other up, which is so important in a generally competitive industry.” Burkard believes that when it comes to culture and people, it’s not about being the biggest brokerage, it’s about being the best.

Although there is a concerted effort to help newer real estate advisors develop on the work front, there is also a strong focus on personal and community support.

The brokerage has generated a high level of engagement from some very meaningful charitable endeavours of late. The team is currently creating a new female leadership group called “Woman of EV” to pursue the philanthropic vision of the office.

“We women are such a strong force. We create a presence when we show up together and we make a meaningful difference, having a great impact on fellow women in need. We care deeply about and support each other,” she says.

“This industry is so empowering for women. There are no limits to how far one can go and succeed. I’m always amazed by my female colleagues who work in this business full-time and also manage to balance a successful family life as well.”

Engel & Völkers Vancouver advisors Marni Tritt and Shannon Ezekiel. RICH LAM

When it comes to work-life balance, Engel & Völkers Vancouver advisors Marni Tritt and Shannon Ezekiel believe they’ve hit on a winning formula, by forming a full-service team. The team of two takes responsibility for everything associated with a listing – rather than using assistants – and will even go so far as to help clients with furniture layout, suggestions on lighting options, and feedback on schools. They cover for each other as other commitments – children, aging parents, you name it – in their lives require attention.

“We’re often each other’s first call in the morning, and last call at night,” Ezekiel says. “It takes a unique pair to partner. We don’t take each other for granted, we don’t keep score, and we lift each other up.”

“Were not afraid to share the good and bad about partnership – ‘this worked, this didn’t’ – because we want to welcome new people in,” continues Tritt. “There’s no need to treat them like they’re a threat.”

Engel & Völkers Vancouver advisor Michelle Porter. RICH LAM

Advisor Michelle Porter has been in the real estate industry for 25 years. She says the collaborative, authentic, and supportive culture and being surrounded by like-minded people are the reasons she joined the company.

“Yes, it is a competitive industry.  But we are genuinely excited for the success of our peers. The knowledge and experience we offer to each other is unparalleled.”

Porter also notes that gender income inequality is never a topic of discussion in the real estate industry. Everyone is paid equally and if business went to a competitor, she would assume it related to not being a good fit for the client, rather than a gender issue.

It’s also an industry where someone’s age is essentially irrelevant. Regina Hermuller joined Engel & Völkers Vancouver in September 2018, as an advisor aged, “over 60.” She says mutual respect goes a long way.

“When you’re older, you nurture the younger,” she says simply. “We are rowing in a boat together with the same goal of wanting everyone to succeed.”

Engel & Völkers Vancouver advisor Regina Hermuller.

Engel & Völkers Vancouver managing partner Andrew Carros says Burkard’s authenticity is a huge part of her success, and by extension, the success of the organization.

“She is a great mentor, a great example of work-life balance, she’s a strong voice who thinks outside of the box,” he says. “She has this amazing confidence that inspires other independent, strong women.”

Carros says they are incredibly selective about who they hire because they want to protect the very special group of people they have already assembled together. They want to demonstrate to the larger Vancouver real estate community that it is possible to lift each other up, and still be successful.

“I like to think we can do anything as women through hard work, experience and perseverance,” says Burkard. She’s motivated to continue inspiring others to be successful, strong women who support each other.

This story was created by Content Works, Postmedia’s commercial content division, on behalf of Engel & Völkers Vancouver.