Fiona Petrie is the executive vice president and managing director of U.S. Operations at RE/MAX INTEGRA. On top of managing all the operations in the Midwest and New England regions, Petrie recently oversaw the U.S. expansion of RE/MAX Empowering Ambitious Ladies, or R.E.A.L., a program designed to empower women in the real estate industry. R.E.A.L. originated in Europe, co-founded by Michelle Goodridge and Joanna Koltan. With the support and encouragement from Shawna Gilbert, vice president of Global Expansion for RE/MAX LLC Headquarters, they expanded the group to include their entire global network of female entrepreneurs.
Here, Petrie shares the behind-the-scenes of R.E.A.L., and what it means to be an RISMedia Real Estate Newsmaker—individuals who are recognized for their positive contributions to the real estate industry—as well as why the women empowerment movement is so important, and what role she’s playing in facilitating ladies in leadership.
You were selected as an RISMedia Real Estate Newsmaker, in the Achiever category. What does it mean to be an achiever in the industry?
Fiona Petrie: It was a pretty surprising and humbling experience, and an acknowledgement that really speaks to my “why,” which is about always establishing personal and professional goals and going after them. I am so blessed to work for RE/MAX INTEGRA because I’m surrounded by like-minded individuals who care about growth, innovation and breaking through the status quo. Our founders are iconic achievers, and I’m grateful to work with them and to receive this recognition, especially in an industry that’s usually all about productivity.
You’ve recently been involved in the U.S. expansion of R.E.A.L. Can you tell us about this, and what you hope to achieve with the campaign?
FP: RE/MAX Empowering Ambitious Ladies (R.E.A.L.) is an initiative that’s really close to my heart. The program is designed to provide an opportunity for women to come together to discuss their challenges and share their successes. It is a community of women supporting and challenging each other to be the best versions of themselves
R.E.A.L. originated with RE/MAX in Europe out of a necessity to address the challenges faced by women in real estate, and the need for a forum where these challenges could be discussed. The initiative was then brought to Ontario and the Atlantic-Canada region, where it has experienced tremendous success.
Three years ago, we launched the Ladies in Leadership program in the U.S., which encompassed biannual dinners adjacent to larger RE/MAX conventions. With the expansion of R.E.A.L. into North America, we have folded Ladies in Leadership into the larger R.E.A.L. umbrella.
What will this campaign encompass?
FP: As RE/MAX Founder Dave Liniger says, “A fire burns brighter with many logs.” With that spirit in mind, R.E.A.L. provides a platform for women in the real estate profession to support each other through shared inspirational ideas and stories, panel discussions, virtual and in-person meetings, and additional resources. We’ve really put an emphasis on social media. Facebook is helping us break through barriers and allows us to engage a wider audience.
However, we are not just focused on digital platforms or virtual meetings. Tech is getting us the speed we need, but that tech will never supersede the importance of meeting face to face. We plan to launch hyper-local events to foster and create strong, personalized relationships with colleagues and peers. From there, we will look to expand meetups both regionally and nationally.
Why is it so important to make a difference in the women-empowerment movement?
FP: From the start, RE/MAX has been focused on empowering women in the real estate industry. When the company was founded, the industry was dominated by men. RE/MAX wanted to change that. As such, some of the first agents to represent the RE/MAX brand were women. The company’s commitment to fostering strong leadership among everyone is evidenced by the strong leadership exuded by Co-Founder Gail Linger. Our intention with the R.E.A.L. initiative is to continue this strong legacy of supporting and empowering female leadership, that began with both her and Dave.
By hosting a forum for female RE/MAX agents to vocalize the challenges they face, we are creating a space where female agents can share solutions, empower each other and propel to success.
How will the campaign address the biggest challenges women face in the industry?
FP: The biggest challenge women face in the industry—and often in general—is being underestimated. With R.E.A.L., my hope is that we can bring strength forward. If you believe it, you can achieve it. Our goal is to impress upon the women in R.E.A.L. that your actions will lead you to success.
What advice can you provide to anyone looking to achieve great things in the industry?
FP: I’ve always had a very simple philosophy: Look to people who are successful. One thing I’ve noticed is that successful people often do the things that others don’t want to do—things that are essential to achieving goals. Successful people are the doers. Figure out what has to be done, and be relentless about achieving those goals and taking that journey.
To view Petrie’s 2020 Newsmaker profile and those of all the other honorees this year, visit RISMedia.com/2020-Newsmakers.
Liz Dominguez is RISMedia’s senior editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at email@example.com.