Badass Wise Woman of Real Estate Tech
There is no question that there are some pretty badass women in real estate tech that we can celebrate this Women’s History Month. But there are sectors within the industry where female representation is seriously lacking. According to Deloitte, it is predicted that only 25% of technical roles are filled by women in 2022. Women in tech have been steadily increasing year after year but far from representing an equal part in the workforce.
When I think about powerful women in the tech sector of real estate, one of the first that pops into my head is Eleni Sommerschield. Eleni has been with Wise Agent CRM for over 10 years and has worked her way from part-time developer to COO. Not only has she helped build the product over her tenure, but has also played an integral part in partnerships, speaking engagements, policy making, and industry relations.
Luckily, Eleni was one of my first friends in the real estate industry. She welcomed me with open arms and showed me an amazing network of women that would come to foster my personal growth. I am fortunate enough to interview her about her journey through this industry as a woman in tech and how we now get the chance to work together through the new partnership between Wise Agent and Revaluate (which we are very excited to launch!).
Q: How did you get your start in tech?
Eleni: My mom encouraged me to take classes toward a computer science degree after I had declared I wanted to drop out of college. I took my first programming class and instantly loved it. I initially thought that I wouldn’t fit in and it was male dominant; I was right! I was one of two females in my Computer Science classes.
Q: You got your degree in computer science and what’s next? How did you get involved at Wise Agent?
Eleni: After I graduated I did some IT and networking work at a company in Chicago. I met my husband, we moved to Arizona, and we started a family. I chose to stay at home as I raised my kids, but always kept busy with projects either volunteering at the kids’ school or at church. Most of my volunteering was related to some type of IT work. As my kids got older, I wanted to go back into the workforce. To get back in the game, I accepted a position as a System’s Administrator working on servers as well as working as a programmer for an Indian Reservation. I worked weekends and it was rough missing out on family time, and most especially missing church. I landed at Wise Agent because the CEO, Brandon Wise, and CTO, Mike Becker, had kids at a similar age as my kids and they understood my need to be part-time and they were willing to accommodate my schedule. When I started at Wise Agent, I had committed to working only 12 hours a week; we joke now that now I work 12 hours a day!
Q: How did you work your way up from part-time developer to COO?
Eleni: I started off as a developer on a small team but as we grew I realized that our team had to grow too. Brandon, Mike, and I discussed how we would grow the team and it was decided that I would manage the development team. We saw success on the development team and soon enough I was managing the customer support team, the training team and our client retention team. It all happened pretty organically. Brandon and Mike promoted me to the position of Director of Operations after a year of fine-tuning procedures and policies, and after seeing our hard work pay off, Brandon and Mike surprised me with the COO position as well as being a partner with them.
Q: When you started, were there other women in the tech space?
Eleni: When I was in college there were less than 100 women in a class of 1,200 that were computer science majors. I would feel lucky if there was another woman in my class. There were never 3 of us in a class at the same time. Finding another woman that works in the technology sector within the Real Estate industry is not common, there are few of us!
Q: Did you ever feel discriminated against for being a woman?
Eleni: I definitely felt it early in my career. I would get questioned more than my male counterparts to test my knowledge and my abilities. I had to prove my worth every day. I don’t feel that way now, maybe it’s my personality or my confidence has increased and I don’t feel that way, I’m more seasoned in life.
Q: Did you feel supported as a woman when you started at Wise Agent?
Eleni: Brandon and Mike have always been really supportive of me and of women. I have been supported and respected 100% here. I also support the young women that are the next generation of women in the Real Estate industry.
Q: How do we create more seats at the table for women executives?
Eleni: First and foremost, we as women need to make room for other women at the table and we need to support them in their efforts. What I don’t like seeing is when women turn their backs or even sabotage other women. It makes me sad to see that women feel like there is a limit to how many of us can have a seat at the table.
Beyond that we as women need to feel comfortable and confident to ask for support from those that are already sitting at the table. Taking a humble approach from those that are in the position we want to be in can help all.
Q: What’s the best part of your job?
Eleni: That it doesn’t feel like work. For me it’s not work; it’s not labor. I don’t dread coming into the office in the morning. Even in my free time I think about how we can make Wise Agent better. I love our company, our product, our software, and I love our staff here. They’re family. I love every single person here.
Q: What’s your proudest achievement?
Eleni: My proudest achievement is the family my husband and I created. I feel like I have achieved work-life balance. I feel blessed that I work where there is understanding if I need to stay at home with a sick kid or take time off to support my kids at their sports. I also love that my family supports me when I’m on a business trip. To me, my life is balanced.
Q: So what’s next for Eleni and Wise Agent?
Eleni: We are venturing into new territory for our members, agents, and brokers. Wise Agent started 20 years ago by serving the solo agents, then we catered to teams and small brokerages, in the last few years we’ve been partnering with large brokerages and Associations. We feel that the next natural progression for us is integrating more with MLS’s. This means I will have to learn a new aspect within the real estate industry. I’m always eager and excited to learn something new and the technology of the MLS’s interests me so it will be fun to see how we will integrate with more MLS’s. We are definitely adding more integrations – we have over 150 integration partners. One of them being Revaluate and we’re very proud to move forward and launch this integration to provide the information that agents need to help them get to the closing table more frequently!
Keep an eye out for our Facebook Live with Eleni on Wednesday, March 30th, on the Revaluate Facebook page.We are excited to officially announce the recently completed integration between Wise Agent and Revaluate! If you would like a demo or more information about the integration, click here revaluate.com/talk