Essex Celebrates International Women’s Day

March 08, 2021

International Women’s Day is Monday, March 8th, 2021 and to celebrate we wanted to take a moment to highlight some of the talented women working at Essex Realty Group, Inc. These women challenge industry norms and are confident leaders in the Chicago multifamily brokerage world. At Essex, we find inspiration in these women daily. Read more to learn about where they draw their inspiration and what motivates them to succeed.

Essex Principal Kate Varde has been with the company for thirteen years and has continuously helped grow the company’s market share and brand throughout the Chicagoland area each year. Kate has been recognized by the Chicago Association of Realtors as Chicago’s top investment real estate broker and selected by Real Estate Forum as one of Commercial Real Estate’s Women to Watch in 2018 and a Woman of Influence in 2019. In addition, she was recently recognized as one of Crain’s 2019 Notable Women in Commercial Real Estate.

Q: In your opinion, why is it important that more women join the commercial real estate industry?

Kate: I learned early on that differences are not disadvantages. Before joining Essex, I worked at a proprietary trading firm that sought out traders with unique perspectives to exploit opportunities in the market. In my case, they targeted female athletes. The idea was that we would bring a unique viewpoint as women and be able to perform under high pressure situations due to our success in athletics. I didn’t end up having much success as a trader, but the experience taught me a valuable lesson that I brought with me to Essex – differences can be advantages.

When I started at Essex, I was the only woman in a non-administrative role and there was only one other woman in the City focused on brokerage. Standing out is paramount to securing business in brokerage and I knew I had a built-in advantage.

I’m glad to say a lot has changed in the thirteen years. At Essex, we now have five women providing their own diverse perspectives to the market and many of our competitors have followed suit. Despite the huge strides we have made as an industry, we still have a long way to go to create a more inclusive workforce for all. I hope that Essex continues to lead the way.

Director Jaimie Steinher joined Essex in 2017 and has challenged the status-quo every day since then. As a Director, she concentrates primarily on helping people achieve their real estate goals by providing them with expertise and guidance. Since her start, she has been involved in the sale of over $250 million of investment property, including 1,500+ apartment units.

Q: Tell me about the women who have supported and inspired you on your career path?

Jaimie: I am lucky to have Kate Varde in my corner. Joining Essex was an easy decision after I met Kate. Simply put, she is fierce. She’s managed to climb the ladder and is the only female multi-family principal you’ll see on any mid-market brokerage roster. She continues to break barriers, and I’m inspired by her commitment to her family, community, and career. Watching her balance her career with motherhood inspires me. Her authenticity is infectious, and I have learned invaluable lessons from her over the past four years.

My mother has also been a lifelong source of inspiration. She was a devoted mom and a full-time litigator for a large law firm. Despite her busy work schedule, she loved to spend free time working on home projects and this rubbed off on me from an early age. We were always rearranging furniture, changing paint colors, or working in the yard. She recently renovated an 1800s farmhouse in Cincinnati. Watching her go through that process was amazing. When I knew I wanted to make a career shift towards something more entrepreneurial and creative, real estate immediately jumped out as a logical choice.

Erica Trejo joined Essex in November 2019 and has quickly established herself as an integral part of her team, which focuses on multifamily transactions located on Chicago’s south side. As an analyst she is responsible for asset valuation, market research and marketing. When she isn’t evaluating property, you can often find her sailing on Lake Michigan and competing in regattas.

Q: Thinking about the message behind International Women’s Day, what message do you want to send out to women thinking about starting a career in commercial real estate?

Erica: When I first joined Essex’s south side team as an intern my main responsibilities included data entry and general administrative tasks. After spending a few months learning about multifamily real estate, I quickly realized I was interested in this field and had a lot more to offer my team and I set a goal to work my way up towards the analyst position. In college I studied accounting, so the analyst role was appealing to me. Analyzing multifamily properties and diving into a property’s financial statements is heaven for me! Real Estate is a broad industry and it allows those from all paths to find in it something they love that will ultimately drive them to succeed. For me that was working up to the analyst role and everyone at Essex and my team members have been so incredibly supportive. I have come to realize that no matter your gender or start, opportunity for individual growth is most certainly achievable. Success takes gumption, integrity, and beyond all, positivity. Find what you are passionate about and get started. Happy International Women’s Day!

Justine Pomierski began working as an analyst at Essex in 2019. In her role, daily responsibilities include asset valuation, market research, and transaction analysis. She made the switch to real estate after a few years of working in human resources. Her unique perspective, steadiness, and professionalism make her an ideal analyst who helps keep her team on track.

Q: Thinking about the message behind International Women’s Day, what message do you want to send out to women thinking about starting a career in commercial real estate?

Justine: My advice to any females out there thinking about starting a career in commercial real estate is to jump in and do it! It is important in this industry to take quick action and not hold yourself back. I remember when I first made the switch into real estate, I felt a little intimidated because I was joining a seemingly male-dominated industry and I did not have any real estate specific experience. I quickly learned that hard work makes up for a lack of experience and that there are a lot of strong females in the industry to look up to.

Throughout my first year at Essex, I have seen tremendous growth and new opportunities arise for all of the women in our office, and that is extremely inspiring to me. The women at Essex remind me that this industry is not defined by gender, and I can pave my own path to success. As more and more women earn leadership roles throughout the commercial real estate industry, we will hopefully even out the playing field. After all, numerous studies have shown that when teams feature a balance in genders it leads to more sales!

Since 1990, Essex Realty Group, Inc. has served Chicago’s investment real estate market as a top multifamily real estate brokerage firm. Contact us to learn more about our recent Chicagoland multifamily and mixed-use property sales and talk to a Chicago multifamily broker today.

Tagged in this post: Kate Varde , Justine Storm