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Cathy Trevino, managing broker of Side, draws inspiration for her career from her personal experience as a first-time homebuyer when she was in her final year of college. The native Houstonian became intrigued with the real estate process right from the start, so much so that she sought the advice of her agent following her purchase. Casting doubts and fears aside, she took a leap of faith and got licensed.

Now, 23 years later, she remains deeply passionate about local real estate and enjoys being fully immersed in the real estate community. She currently serves as a regional vice president and vice chair for the Houston Association of REALTORS®, and is a board director for the National Association of REALTORS®.

Here, Trevino tells RISMedia what she’s learned along the way.

What’s the most important thing you’ve learned in your career?
Cathy Trevino: Be bold in the choices you make, and don’t be afraid of doing something out of fear that you might regret it later. Instill confidence in yourself. Gather new experiences and meet new people. You never know where your next move will take you, so it’s important to put yourself out there.

It’s also vital to be kind and treat everyone with the same level of respect. Every single person has value, and you never know what you’ll learn from them. This has proven to be true with many of my customers who I sold homes to years ago—I’m selling homes to their children today. Such everlasting relationships aren’t always easy to cultivate, but they show that kindness and effort go a long way. 

How has this motivated you to make a difference?
CT: As a female leader, I want to motivate young girls and show them that if you work hard, you can make it to the top, regardless of gender. I’d share the same advice with my own four boys: Ensure you have a good work ethic, put your heart into everything you do and always give your absolute best.

The real estate industry is challenging to navigate, and it’s even harder for women because they’re often looked at differently, but that doesn’t mean it’s an impossible feat. I’ve crossed paths with many mothers and wives who are leaders in the community and are able to strike a balance between their careers and personal lives. This is far easier to achieve when women support other women, providing them with the help and encouragement to achieve their goals.

Why is it so important to make a difference in the gender-equality movement?
CT: A lot of young girls don’t think they have what it takes to achieve their goals or the confidence in themselves to pursue them. This could not be further from the truth. I want to let all the young girls out there know that if I did it, they can, too. When I was younger, I doubted myself a lot and never would’ve imagined that I’d be a woman in a leadership position at such an innovative company like Side. Growing up, my family struggled financially, and I just wanted to work hard so I could help my family out. My hard work, determination and positive attitude throughout my career did not go unnoticed, and I worked my way up over the years.

What needs to be done to address the biggest challenges women face in the industry?
CT: The biggest challenge women face is a lack of confidence in themselves, which often holds them back from going after the things they want, like applying for positions they’re qualified for. Women must first realize how much they’re capable of and be confident enough to put themselves out there. It may not always be comfortable, but it will definitely be rewarding.

Always volunteer, give back to the community and learn your industry—this is a great way to extend your knowledge, expand your network, grow personally and professionally, and build the confidence you need.

What advice can you provide to women looking to make an impact in real estate?
CT: Always support the women around you, because it will go a long way. Step out of your comfort zone and encourage other women to do the same. One of my close friends who I was working with for a long time was recruited by a different firm, and she was terrified to make the jump because she was uncertain of what would lie ahead. Even though I knew that would mean losing a valued colleague, I also knew that it was a great opportunity for her. I told her she had to do what was right for her and her family.

I wouldn’t be where I am today if I didn’t take chances. Don’t not do something because you’re scared; you might fall on your face, but you’ll learn. If you want to make an impact, be encouraging and spread awareness on all the opportunities out there for women to learn from, even if they fail.

Do you know someone who is making strides toward the advancement of women leadership in the real estate industry? Contact to learn more about our Women in Real Estate series.

Liz Dominguez is RISMedia’s senior editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at