Autumn event to highlight women's contributions to industry

Autumn event to highlight women's contributions to industry

Autumn event to highlight...Kathy Gregory is the first female CEO in the Canadian mortgage industry, and she’ll be a featured speaker at Women in Real Estate on November 15.

The founder of Paradigm Quest has led a vanguard of women who have unmistakably changed both the real estate and mortgage industries. However, as Gregory tells it, it isn’t what she initially set out to do.

“I never paid attention to it and I largely ignore it,” Gregory said of being among the few high-powered women in the Canadian industry. “If I ignore it, most people will ignore it because it’s not part of our discussion. My whole career, I’ve been in boardrooms and meeting rooms, and looking back, if I was one of two women in a meeting I’d ignore it. Don’t let them make it part of the conversation. They may come to the able with perceived views, but your ability to convince them you’ll be a success is gender irrelevant.”

While Gregory is a key player in the real estate world, she, in fact, got her start in the financial world and doesn’t mince words about some of its institutional barriers for women.

“The reality is it’s probably much easier being a female entrepreneur than it is in the banking world because we have a 150-plus-year-old-old banking institution that has not had a female CEO ever,” she said. “That trickledown effect is enormous. Over 90% of retail banking in this country and not one female CEO in the banking environment, and it has a message to the market that isn’t really good. If I wanted to be a female CEO at one of the Big Five, that’d be a problem. It’s definitely easier to be a female entrepreneur and lead a company than be part of the banking oligopoly.”

Another agent of change in the industry is Kyra Wong, a district vice president of Manulife Bank, who started the Magical Unicorn Project, a nascent organization that intends to help women overcome adversity and what Wong calls an emotional glass ceiling—a self-limiting belief system. “I’ve had significant adversity in my life,” said Wong, who will also be speaking at Women in Real Estate. “I lost my parents at a young age and grew up with pretty much no support system, aside from one younger sister I had in my life. So I really had to navigate all of life’s challenges by myself and had a number of setbacks along the way, but I always chose to accept adversity and use it as an opportunity to advance, and grow, and become better, so when I speak about these things, they come from a place of experience.”
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