Embracing Equity, Making Change: Four Women Elevating CBRE’s Real Estate Services

March 7, 2023 4 Minute Read

Kate Camenzuli, Andrea Teahen, Edwina Govindsamy, Amanda Feduic

Kate Camenzuli once swore she’d never become a broker. But it became clear that this was her calling.

Part of the hesitation may have stemmed from the fact that Camenzuli is a fierce advocate for representation. Commercial real estate hasn’t always had such a strong track record in this area.

Camenzuli, who is based in Toronto, has since built a team specializing in working with retail companies and they pride themselves on their white glove service and attention to the details of each business.

“It might just be my personality, but I am drawn to big challenges and forging new paths,” Camenzuli says. “For example, I see a huge benefit in creating strong relationships with private equity sponsors that own portfolio companies.”

While partnering with private equity companies wasn’t something CBRE had traditionally done, Camenzuli reached out to people who believed in her and continued to push for her idea. These days, her team partners with a multitude of private equity groups, bringing her vision a step closer to reality.

“Having the tenacity and grit to stand for what you believe in will get you far,” she says.

In honour of International Women’s Day, we spoke to Camenzuli and three other CBRE women about building successful careers in commercial real estate, the challenges they’ve faced along the way, and how to empower women to thrive in the workplace.

From the Classroom to the Office

Like Camenzuli, Vancouver-based Andrea Teahen had not planned on becoming a commercial real estate broker.

Her career began in the classroom, where as a middle school teacher she honed her negotiation skills. She went on to work as a sales manager, which sparked a passion for client care and creative problem-solving. Her brother suggested a career in real estate. But as a mother of three, Teahen had to find the right moment to complete her licence.

Joining a competing commercial real estate brokerage mere months before the pandemic, Teahen’s transition into her new office sales and leasing role was dominated by Zoom meetings and working from home. Not an ideal start in an industry built on relationships. And it made it even harder to network and learn the tricks of the trade.

"Some truths are universal. I reminded myself that everyone takes a different path to success and have their own challenges to face," says Teahen, who joined CBRE in February. "It’s important to take care of yourself in those challenging moments. Making your wellness a priority impacts your work; it’s like driving on a clear sunny day, as opposed to driving in a snowstorm."

These days, Teahen has built a strong client base and has successfully closed numerous deals across Victoria.

Lean Into Your Strengths

Edwina Govindsamy started her commercial real estate career straight out of university, with no prior experience in the industry.

She quickly moved up the ladder, transitioning from a client services role to a marketing coordinator position, where she oversaw the marketing for New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland. In 2021, she welcome a new opportunity and took on her current role as office administrator at CBRE Halifax, where she manages operations across the Atlantic offices.

“The transition from marketing to operations seemed daunting at first,” she says, admitting she initially experienced imposter syndrome but found that being vulnerable and sharing her experience with others has led to honest and open conversations.

“Talking openly about what you’re going through takes courage, but knowing you’re not alone is encouraging. That’s certainly one benefit of having a diverse workplace.” Govindsamy suggests there’s opportunity in dialogue. “You’ll find that people are very supportive, and many have experienced similar feelings at different moments in their life.”

Govindsamy now uses this experience to guide her colleagues in their own growth and development. She helps them lean into their strengths and in moments of doubt, reminds them that they were chosen for their jobs for a reason. Mentoring younger colleagues has become one of her favourite parts of the job.

Empowering the Next Generation

Amanda Fediuc, Managing Director for Southwestern Ontario, previously worked for the CBRE People team. So she is no stranger to supporting professionals across the real estate industry. She encourages women to take on new opportunities and get involved in different experiences.

“I had an unconventional path to where I am now, leading multiple offices of sales professionals, and it goes to show the importance of including people from diverse backgrounds and areas of expertise in meetings and conversations. We all bring something unique to the conversation, and there’s great value in hearing a different perspective,” she says. “My career was shaped by this kind of exposure to different parts of the business and having leaders who believed in me.”

Fediuc is encouraged that so many businesses are prioritizing diversity and seeking better ways to empower women. But she acknowledges that it will take time to see truly meaningful change.

“There's still bias, largely unconscious, that surfaces from time to time in the way of comments and assumptions,” Fediuc says. “But there is more awareness than ever before, which means that there’s also the potential to address issues and do things differently.”

“I’m proud of the culture in my offices where there are great people ready to speak out, provide support and do incredible work together. For some, positive change is intentional, for others it’s the biproduct of a supportive corporate culture and changing societal norms.  Either way, the outcome is increasingly the same and it’s very encouraging.”

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