Pauline Michno

By: Kenichi N., 3/16/2014

Pauline Michno: In Her Own Words

At what time did you first get your real estate licence?

In 1982. Yes actually, what happened I went through the side you might say, because I was not accepted into a commercial office space itself. Women were thought as residential agents. So, I went to work at a residential office. The lady there said, “ Pauline you can do whatever you want to do. You don't have to sell houses. If you want to lease office space out of here you go right ahead, but you're on your own”. And, there were no men in that office, everybody was a woman so there was nobody to oppose me initially. I went there because the men did not accept me as a woman.

Was there any competition between you and your female co-workers?

Actually, the women did not care to fight the battle. I was a single mother and commercial real estate usually happens during the weekdays. I wanted to be home on the weekends with my kids.

The men… They took all the big deals. And, as a woman he shared all the small deals, because he didn't care whether he did those deals or not. At the time there were maybe 3 or 5 women that sold commercial real estate at the time, and all of them eventually dropped out. It was just understood that the men got the best and if I wanted to be in the field that I just had to take the scraps. So I did. And, as time went by, I was given an office building that was hard to lease. In the 1980’s, a lot of buildings went back to the lenders, so I was hired by an developer. A building had went back to the bank. And, men didn't want that position, sitting in a office only selling that building. Then I leased that building, then I filled up three buildings up in a real hard market. Eventually, getting to know those customers and those buildings I got repeat business.

I recall one instance when one really nice building, Sheila Packer at the time, my male boss... I got the building for two weeks and I found someone to take it. And then he pulled the building, because he wanted it.

I did stand up for myself a number of times. And, asked over and over again to get the position. Finally, a man couldn't lease. It was a large building in the West Timer area, and this man couldn't lease it. And the buildings that had been foreclosed before were owned by the same owner. And, they said well we might as well try Pauline on it. So, I was just elated that I got the building, and the building was hard to lease because of it’s shape, it was hard to configure office space. The building was kind of in a kidney shape. But, I got the building to 95%, and when I first got it, there were only two tenants. And, it was a two hundred thousand square foot office space. After that, I got a little bit of respect, but that was after being the field for almost six years.

The larger companies to this day wanted a strong male representing them. It is difficult to be a woman dealing with those companies. Some that the companies that went downtown to the big spaces always picked a male to represent them. The particular person that took me off the building, that way he could take it, was my boss. But, I leased more space than he did, but he got a big salary and I got a small one.

In the last 10 years, there has been change. There are an awful lot more women in the field, and I think there are some women who are involved in the larger deals. But, I think that the market it always a tough one. Even the men. It is not always just with woman. You got to be awfully tough to make the big deals, because there is a lot of competition for business.

All this time I had my salesman licence. So I said, “I'm going to get my brokers licence”. As a broker you get to take all the money home and I get to represent the people I put in the office space. So, for the last eleven years I’ve done this. And, the interesting thing is that over the last eleven years I've made more money than I ever did in the commercial field. And, frankly wound up representing some large deals.

Women need to continue to be assertive, be knowledgeable, continue to prove their value, and know their product better than anybody else, male or female. I think as big companies’ CEO’s change and the heads of those companies, you will start to see more women in the field represent these bigger companies. Men are maybe more comfortable dealing with men and women with women. I think women are being able to find the answers they need. I think they need to press. The knowledge there they just need to take every course in real estate, not be satisfied with just the ones you need to get your license. Just get the different accreditations, because it it gives you something to be respected. I think women just need to work harder, but they can get there.