Since Avenue Living’s inception, inclusion and diversity have been values that drive our organization. Strong, talented women help fuel our continued growth, and we are proud to say that more than 40 per cent of our C-suite is female (which we proudly featured last year). We believe different viewpoints, perspectives, and levels of experience help us achieve our goals and make our company better. This year’s International Women’s Day aims to #BreakTheBias — which encourages us to envision a world free of bias, discrimination, and stereotypes, and to create one that is both diverse and inclusive. This year, we want to take the opportunity to highlight and celebrate even more talented women at Avenue Living who are taking us to new heights. We asked them to share the professional experiences and insights that guide them.
Showcasing a few of the women on our team
Faye Garlitos, Regional Vice President, has been with the Avenue Living team for three years. Throughout that time, she has gained a deep understanding of our customer journey.
Kathleen Cowick, Senior Counsel and Director of Legal Operations, brings more than 20 years of legal experience in a range of industries to Avenue Living’s various business segments.
Marina Post, Chief Accounting Officer, joined Avenue Living in 2018, with many years’ experience working in accounting, finance, and leadership roles for national organizations.
Tammy Cho, SVP, Marketing, joined the team early in 2022 with 15 years’ experience in leading corporate marketing and communications strategies for technology companies in energy, manufacturing, life sciences, aerospace and defense, and wholesale distribution.
Vanessa Prosser, Director, Supply Chain and Procurement, has worked in supply chain management since her teenage years, broadening her experience across all facets of the industry.
Wendy Ell, Director, Public and Government Relations, joined the team in 2021 and brought with her three decades of experience in energy, finance, real estate, and technology.
What inspires you professionally and personally?
Marina Post is inspired by “being surrounded by ambitious, driven, enthusiastic, and engaged individuals; the opportunity for growth and development; making a positive impact with my team and organization, as well as my family.”
Personally, and professionally, Vanessa Prosser is inspired by new challenges, growth, and life-long learning. “I love problem-solving, finding solutions, building things, and developing new skills, and I try to seize any opportunity to do so.”
Team success inspires Kathleen Cowick. “As a lawyer, your work is usually behind the scenes, so you take your inspiration from the success of your clients and their business. Personally, and professionally, I strive for new experiences that keep things fresh.”
“My parents have inspired me since I was little,” says Tammy Cho. “They immigrated to Canada in the early 1980s with a positive outlook, limited financial means, and minimal understanding of the English language. They persevered through difficult times to ensure a better life for our family.”
How did you get into your current line of work?
“Through another woman, I highly look up to,” says Faye Garlitos. “Had she not given me a chance and opening to venture into the property management business, I highly doubt I would ever be part of this industry.”
“I knew in grade school if I ever wanted to succeed in life, I would have to put myself out there — in jobs that had me working on the front lines, monitoring and tracking the ever-evolving wants, needs, perceptions, and actions of different groups of people,” says Wendy Ell.
“I was a lawyer for many years at a large firm before joining Avenue Living, focusing on operations,” says Kathleen Cowick. “I followed the highest needs within our group and focused on the things I thought would provide the most value to the organization.”
“I’ve had a passion for communications and marketing since I was in university because it’s an ever-evolving and changing discipline,” says Tammy Cho. “I enjoy understanding customer pain points, working across various teams to bring solutions to life, and using tools to persuade buyers as to why our offering is the best option available.”
What challenges have you experienced as a woman in the workplace?
“I’m fortunate to say that being a woman in the workplace has not in any way impeded my career development,” says Marina Post. “I would attribute that to being part of the right teams with the right culture, with leaders who value input from all individuals, regardless of gender, race, religion, etc.”
Vanessa Prosser has worked in male-dominated industries — and male-dominated departments — for years. “In general, the men I have worked with have been phenomenal and we have been able to build strong, supportive teams together,” she says, “but there have certainly been times where people have made assumptions about my role, authority, knowledge, and qualifications that they didn’t make regarding my male colleagues.”
“There is sometimes an assumption that as a young woman, you are not the expert in the room,” says Kathleen Cowick of her own career experiences.
“Having worked three decades in energy, finance, real estate, and technology, I firmly believe I’ve had to work at least twice as hard to make myself heard,” says Wendy Ell.
How have you overcome the challenges you’ve experienced?
Marina Post says she has “been fortunate enough to be in workplaces where there are largely opportunities rather than challenges when it comes to women in leadership positions. I have also seen massive shifts in the overall atmosphere around the removal of the proverbial glass ceiling. I think employers and leaders are much more focused on an individual’s contributions rather than their gender.”
“I work hard and try to make sure my performance is beyond reproach,” says Vanessa Prosser. “I research and educate myself on the industries I work in to build a strong background and knowledge base. I also actively try to build great relationships with colleagues at all levels so we can all support each other in our growth and professional goals.”
“I’ve been lucky to have some strong female role models, even in what is still a male-dominated industry and a city where the majority of business leaders are still male,” says Kathleen Cowick. “Having the confidence to understand that you’re at the table for a reason and that there is value in your opinion is important.”
“In my 20’s, 30’s, and 40’s I had the great honour of having some outstanding mentors – successful individuals each with national/international acclaim,” says Wendy Ell. “With their guidance, I learned to observe the non-verbal, listen intently, and trust in my well-earned knowledge.”
What’s the best advice you’ve received?
“Be curious and ask questions. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Be a lifelong learner,” says Marina Post.
“Keep moving forward,” says Faye Garlitos.
Vanessa Prosser looks to the words of one of her university professors: Dare to know. “That’s how I try to live my life, and it’s been great advice so far.”
“To trust my own knowledge,” says Wendy Ell. “It’s less about trusting ‘the gut,’ but more about knowing that as I put in the hard work to listen, monitor, track and relate, then I am generally not only on par with others, but in most cases, one or two steps ahead.”
Kathleen Cowick was advised early in her career to always find multiple paths to a goal. “There may be challenges or obstacles in your path, be it in life or in respect of a client’s objective, and if you have more than one way to get to your destination, you are more likely to be successful.”
Tammy Cho’s mentors have given her advice that she uses in her decision making, “Don’t live life with regrets and walk towards, not away from. At the end of the day, you’re accountable to yourself.”
What would you tell a younger version of yourself?
“When one door closes, another door opens,” says Marina Post. “So much of what happens in our lives can seem quite challenging or negative in the moment but can be, in retrospect, the opportunity for growth, improvement, and a path to something better.”
“Set reasonable expectations and exceed them rather than trying to be all things to all people. And invest early,” says Kathleen Cowick.
“Slow down and smell the flowers. You’re doing it right,” says Wendy Ell.
Tammy Cho has found it valuable to “trust your gut, take more risks, and know your worth.”
As we benefit from the insight of different women across Avenue Living, we continue to appreciate our diverse team and the manner in which our female leaders contribute to our ongoing success. We are always looking for dynamic people to join our team. Take a look at our career opportunities.
This commentary and the information contained herein are for educational and informational purposes only and do not constitute an offer to sell, or a solicitation of an offer to buy, any securities or related financial instruments. This article may contain forward-looking statements. Readers should refer to information contained on our website at www.avenuelivingam.com for additional information regarding forward-looking statements and certain risks associated with them.