This Women’s History Month, we asked some women of Withum’s Real Estate Services Team
to reflect on some of the formative experiences in their lives and in their careers in the industry. As the month comes to a close, we wanted to share the team’s thoughts in order to shine a light on their experiences and successes, inspire those who aim to reach new career heights, and connect other women through these shared experiences. We hope this serves to empower and uplift other professional women in our network during this celebratory month.
Question: What women have been influential to you in your life and/or career?
Many of our team members saw inspiration in their female peers, coworkers and upper-level team members.
“The women I work with every day and a few key women at my prior firm who helped shape my career have been the most influential to me. Their ability to be complete bosses at their job whilst balancing kids and life at home, especially during the pandemic. They handle it with such grace and ease.”
Ashley Kettler, CPA, Senior Tax Manager
“Achieving success alone is difficult; therefore, it is essential to have mentors and role models. In my career, the most influential women have been the female Partners at Withum.”
Alicia Mynarska, CPA, Senior Manager
Others were inspired at a young age, by their family members growing up.
Kelly Lopez Portillo, CPA, Senior Manager, was influenced by her mom and grandma. Rebecca Machinga shares a similar source of influence: “My maternal grandmother has been most influential in shaping who I am. She, along with my grandfather, raised a family of five on a dairy farm in western Pennsylvania, where I spent a lot of my childhood. She was loving, dedicated and always stood her ground. She worked from dawn until late in the evenings – milking cows twice a day, putting 3 meals a day on the table for the family and any number of “strays” that lived with them who would trade hard labor for a place to stay, and sewing clothes for her children and grandchildren. She loved her family and believed in everyone getting along, even if you had differences. She was strong, independent and driven – qualities I’m proud to say I inherited from her.”
Rebecca Machinga, CPA, CGMA, Partner, Real Estate Practice Leader.
Question: In what ways have you been able to inspire the women around you?
A common theme emerged for how our team members inspire the women in their lives; through hard work and staying true to yourself and your passions in life.
“By being myself. By working hard. By being someone who will help resolve a problem, no matter what it is. By always taking responsibility.”
“I am grateful Withum gives me the opportunity to live my life passionately. I inspire the women around me to create a good balance in life and to have passion for work and personal things that help them grow professionally.”
“I hope to inspire women around me to believe in themselves and not let anything hold them back. Everyone has challenges and it is how we deal with them that makes the difference.”
For others, their inspiration touches their family members.
“My cousin has recently started at the firm in our November 2020 Empower class. I hope to inspire her to follow her own path at the firm and in public accounting. There are so many opportunities and her potential is endless!”
Question: What do you think are the most important resources for women in the workforce?
Networking and participation in the industry can open doors in your career, and our team members stressed just how important it can be.
“It is important to be involved in the industry, participate in the industry events, and be an expert in a specific field. I was proud to be included in 2018 in “Real Estate Weekly” among Leading Ladies in Real Estate.”
And, it’s important to remember that you’re not in this alone.
“Mentors can be extremely helpful. I think that finding someone you can trust and learn from is essential for one’s career.”
“Another important resource is someone at a level above you (career coach, partner) that can act as your sponsor and guide you in your career aspirations.”
“The most important resources for women in the workforce are the men and women that invest in us. Find a mentor or a few. It is hard to do it alone and often it takes a village. When you make it, be a resource for others.”
Question: What has been the proudest moment of your career thus far?
For some, it was personal accomplishments or reaching an industry milestone. For others, a risky but rewarding career decision helped redefine their path.
“There have been many proud moments for me throughout the last 12+ years at Withum. Surviving busy season with chronic Lyme disease. Becoming a CPA. Watching staff that I have mentored achieve their goals and become great teachers and mentors themselves.”
Passing the CPA exam was also a career height for Kelly.
Question: What advice would you share with women who are trying to make their mark in the industry?
A common thread between our ladies’ advice: embrace your individuality, believe in your abilities, and of course, work hard.
“Be true to yourself. Don’t feel like you need to look a certain way, act a certain way, or fit into a mold to excel in your career. People will respect you for your authenticity, transparency, and knowledge more than caring about what you look like, how you dress, or where you come from. What’s important is the value that you bring to the table for your clients.”
“Work hard and believe in yourself.”
“I live by ten tenants: (1) It’s all about relationships, (2) be true to yourself, (3) don’t try to be someone you’re not, (4) always do the right thing, even when it’s the hardest thing, (5) be trustworthy, (6) be a problem solver, (7) don’t be afraid of failure, (8) bask in the accolades and toot your own horn, (9) build up others around you, and (10) be known for something unique.”
My career has been so rewarding and fulfilling. My advice for a young woman would be to go for it! Say yes to the opportunities that present themselves even when they seem challenging. They will make you stronger, smarter, and more successful.”
“For anyone trying to make their mark in the industry, be yourself. There are so many opportunities and every one of those looks different. Don’t measure yourself against anyone but your own goals. Find the things you care about and find ways to incorporate that into your job. Find an industry that makes you curious and want to continue learning. Finally, find people that will push you and support you while you figure it all out.”
We hope you’ve had a great Women’s History Month and that stories like these have left you empowered to achieve many successes in the year to come!
Real Estate Services