Marina Post knows what it’s like being in a profession that has been historically male-dominated, and is pleased to be a part of the change as more and more women enter the field and rise to leadership positions.
Over the years, the Senior Vice-President of Accounting at Avenue Living Asset Management has witnessed a noticeable trend, as more women have embarked on a career that was traditionally a male pursuit.
“My dad was actually the one who steered me in this direction for a career. I was always very analytical, and excelled in both math and sciences. Both my parents, being immigrants, were very practical in their opinions of what one should do for a career. They very much guided me in the direction of pursuing a business degree. At the time, I wanted to obtain a finance degree and get into investment banking,” says Post.
“My dad was convinced I should try accounting instead. He arranged a meeting for me with the CFO of the engineering company he worked for. The CFO was a CA (Chartered Accountant) who told me ‘you won’t regret following this career path. Go get your CA and then you can pursue whatever you want afterwards, your options are just so vast.’ His message really resonated with me.”
Post was born in Russia and was seven when the family moved to Canada. She went to the University of Calgary and articled at Ernst & Young to get her CA designation and has been on that career path ever since.
“I’ve always been very motivated and ambitious. If there’s a goal I want to achieve, I will put everything into it,” she says.
After she received her CA designation, she spent eight years at Calgary-based, boutique investment bank FirstEnergy, where she progressed from Controller to VP, Finance. When FirstEnergy was acquired by GMP Capital, the finance and administration function moved to Toronto. Post then took a Chief Financial Officer position at Ross Smith Asset Management, which managed two hedge funds and launched the first cryptocurrency fund in Canada during her tenure. She was at Ross Smith for about a year and a half before coming to Avenue Living.
Post has been in her current role since October 2018. She oversees Avenue Living’s accounting department which comprises 22 talented individuals.
Today, she manages the accounting department for the fastest growing multi-family owner/operator in Canada. Avenue Living is expected to grow its residential rental portfolio to 10,000 units in 18 markets across the Prairies by the second quarter of this year. It has more than $1.5 billion in assets under management, 400,000 square feet of commercial space and 37,000 acres of agricultural land in Saskatchewan. It is also launching two new investment funds for multi-family residential rental property in the United States and for self-storage units in the Prairies. Avenue Living began in 2006 with a $3-million investment to purchase a multi-family property in Brooks, Alberta.
“The pace here is really fast, but it’s also really exciting. You certainly can effect change, whereas in a lot of organizations it’s really challenging and tied down in bureaucracy. We certainly don’t have that here at Avenue Living,” says Post. “There’s some incredibly talented people that work here. That’s always been a big driver for me with any organization.
“It’s really the team you have around you. That’s been such a pleasure at Avenue – the dedication, the skillsets and the expertise that we have in this organization. It just makes it so much easier to do your own job when you can rely on the abilities of others, while also learning from them at the same time.”
With International Women’s Day being celebrated this year on March 8, Post reflects on being a woman in her career. She says she’s been very fortunate. When she was at Ernst and Young, she had many female partners she worked directly with. They were all strong female personalities that Post related to and appreciated their mentorship and guidance.
“Quite frankly, accounting is very female dominated now. The majority of graduates coming out of university are female in this field. During my time at FirstEnergy, I was fortunate to work with a female CFO who the predominantly male senior leadership looked to for expertise and guidance. In an industry with few senior roles filled by women, she earned a seat at the table and was highly respected. I learned a lot from her – how to approach conflict, how to be an effective leader, how to think critically and clearly in stressful situations, and how to rise beyond the glass ceiling.”
Post says Avenue Living has historically focused on female representation at the executive level. In fact, 40% of the C-Suite is female.
“We have a lot of bright, motivated women that work in this company, and it’s quite refreshing,” says Post.
International Women’s Day on March 8 provides an important opportunity to celebrate women’s achievements while calling for greater gender equality. The International Women’s Day 2020 campaign theme is #EachforEqual to help forge women’s equality.
“We’re in 2020 and things are changing for the better. There’s an equal seat at the table and I think women are much more represented now at every level of leadership. There’s just a different skillset that women bring to the table. A more balanced representation at every level leads to more nuanced decision making. And every organization can benefit from that. We’re moving in the right direction,” says Post.