#LadiesWhoLead Session One - Kim MacInnes

SFive Consulting is excited to announce the launch of our "#LadiesWhoLead in Property Management" series. Our goal is to help our clients, colleagues and followers gain insight on career paths and showcase stories that will empower our future generation. This will be the place to stop if you are also just looking for inspiration from female leadership. These ladies are paving the way and their stories are too good not to share!

This series is hosted and written by SFive's contributing writer, Yardayna Ben-Simon.

Meet our first guest: Kim MacInnes

Title: National Sales Manager, Student Housing

Company: Conservice - The Utility Experts

Currently Reading: A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle

Question 1: Tell us a little about your current position? What was your path leading up to your current position?

Answer 1:

Speaking from my current position: I was a single mom of three kids for about 14 years, and I had a college degree, but I didn’t feel like I had enough in-depth experience. I ended up working in the corporate/business side of law. They were very understanding: as long as I did my job and got my work done, no one micromanaged me.

As my children got older, I always liked Sales, so I knew I wanted to be back in Sales. But it was too hard for me to do that when they were little because there are many time commitments with Sales. But in my core, no matter what I did, I was always selling something. I found a niche in finding a soul in Sales; what I mean is, believing in my product, believing in the people that I work with, and really wanting what’s best for my client. It’s more about being a solutions provider than selling widgets.

My cousin had a Utility Billing Company in Austin. I didn’t know what it was, but I quit my legal work to go back into Sales with him. I had no clue what he was even talking about--but he taught me, and I liked it, and we built a company together. It was more of a boutique company, it was a lot of fun. We had clients that big companies wanted because we really talked to people--the basics--we picked up the phone, we called people back, we made sure our clients were successful. Then our company was sold to one of the bigger companies because they wanted our clients. I tried to work for the big company for eight months, but it just was not a good fit for me. They wanted me to sell and move on--once you sold, you were not involved anymore. That just wasn’t the way I worked.

Then I went off on my own and consulted for a while. I realized that I’m good at an early stage product; I’m not really entrepreneurial, so to be a consultant meant wearing so many hats, which was too confusing for me. There are personalities that do that--it’s not me. And I know that, and that’s OK.

Everybody was talking about Conservice at the company I was at, so I contacted them--again, they’re a big company, so I had doubts because I knew I was better at an early-stage space-- and they had me come and visit. This company had a soul. I fell in love with the leadership, the operations, the involvement of the employees, and how they had a say in everything. I went to work for Conservice in the Sales department of Utility Management. I had the Texas region for multi-family, and then student housing opened up. It’s interesting how things work out because student housing had 40,000 beds--that’s small--today we have 400,000 beds. We had one account manager then, and today we have 4 account managers. It was early stage; it was my niche, what I really love doing. I love something that’s new, digging in, and making it to market. And that’s what we did. We had a lot of fun with great success. I got to be at a big company, but I found my early-stage opportunity.

If we are true to ourselves, and we can sit with discomfort, and then try to understand the next best step, that things somehow work out. That is my mantra. And some things won’t work out, and that’s OK. That means you took that off your list. You know that’s not a good fit for you

Question 2: What has been the most significant barrier in your career?

Answer 2:

Maybe this resonates with others--I had to learn to be an advocate for myself.

I was at this law firm, and most of the lawyers were amazing. It was an international law firm, and I was in the marketing department, and I worked on business development. One of the lawyers didn’t like something that I did, and they emailed me in all caps, like they were yelling at me, because they didn’t like what I did. And it was male dominated. When they first started yelling at me, I wanted to go under my desk and cry--I just felt like someone needed to come and take care of me. I called my marketing coordinator (a male), and I asked him if he thought it was OK that the other lawyer did that. The coordinator asked, “was what OK?” I responded, “well, ‘A’ you could say that was wrong, ‘B’ you could say ignore him, ‘C’ you could say what he did is right.” He responded ‘C.’ I hung up, and I thought, ‘I am still looking for the man to protect me.’ That was my “a-ha” moment, that I don’t need a man to speak up or protect me, that I had to be an advocate for myself .

Question 3: What is the biggest risk that you’ve taken?

Answer 3:

Professionally, quitting my job to work at an early-stage company with my cousin. I didn’t even get a salary--he paid me for 3 months, that I had to pay back. That was super scary. But it worked out, because here I am today, at a great company with amazing clients. It all worked out.

Question 4: What are your current goals?

Answer 4:

Professionally at Conservice we want to continue to build out our student platform. We are bringing a few new products to market. We also have a phenomenal new leader who we’re really excited about. She’s been with the company for a while, so she understands what Conservice does in depth. She’s newer to student housing, but she’s come in with so many great resources for more in-depth reporting, specifically toward the utility management side. As we’re becoming more sophisticated, we see a need for bench-marking. What happens if there’s a polar vortex--what does that do to my budget? What if I retrofit this whole building with LED lighting--how do I track my savings? We have these beautiful user-friendly reporting mechanisms that we’re bringing into the student market nicely.

Personally, I’ve been working with a business coach, which has been phenomenal. I spend so much time at work, so my goals have been “what do you want to do when you’re not working?” I started asking myself, “What’s for Kim?” That’s another thing that women do--we’re always doing for others. I am getting certified in mindfulness and breathing. I also took a course on essential oils.

Question 5: What are you most proud of?

Answer 5:

My 3 kids. They make me so happy. I’m proud of them for them, who they became.

Question 6: Who inspires you in the industry and why?

Answer 6:

I don’t want to leave anyone out! There are so many amazing leaders in the industry.

Courtney Gordon - Rise, Vicki Parrish - Greystar , Dave Jenkins - Conservice, Del de Windt - Cardinal Group , Alex O'Brien - Cardinal Group, Tana Lee Higginbotham - Pierce Education, DeWana Falks - Preiss Company

Question 7: What advice would you give to the next generation of female leaders?

Answer 7:

Here is my advice to the next generation of female leaders:

  • Develop a ritual or mantra (or as my children call it "momisms") for those moments of self doubt, which we all have. Here are a few of mine:

  1. Do the next right thing;

  2. breath, then breath deeper;

  3. the getting is in the giving.

  • Find your voice, ask for what you need, know things are not perfect and you may not get what you want, but it's your job to ask. You can reassess if things don't work out as you wanted, but there is no need to apologize for asking.

Raise each other up, support each other, be kind.

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