by Jane Hurst
Serving as president of my real estate board for a year brought me many personal and professional benefits. The experience was a highly positive one, and many of the benefits were unexpected.
Although I am outgoing by nature, this position enabled me to develop greater confidence and an enhanced ability to network. I believe that I became a better listener and improved my diplomacy skills. I also learned a great deal about our industry at the local, provincial and national levels, as well as appreciating what goes on behind the scenes that enables REALTORS® to work.
I chaired many meetings and represented the board at events that included provincial and national conferences. The position also involved networking with members, overseeing several volunteer committees, working with our executive officer and association staff, and attending events in the community.
One of my favorite things about the experience was presenting monies to local charitable grassroots organizations, primarily raised through a silent auction at our board’s Christmas dinner. Additional monies were realized through the Ontario Realtors Care Foundation. We raised more than $50,000 for the purchase of a point-of-care ultrasound machine for Lakeridge Health Oshawa Emergency & Critical Care Department. All of the recipients were so appreciative and that was truly gratifying for me. We demonstrated that REALTORS® do more than just sell houses — we genuinely care about the communities in which we live and work.
As board president, I was fortunate to receive a great deal of support. Networking with presidents of other boards at conferences and meetings was helpful and I could draw on their experiences. Many of my board’s past-presidents also offered their support, and I didn’t hesitate to call a few of them when I needed some additional insight. Our executive officer and association staff kept me organized and guided me. The board of directors I worked with was wonderful, and my broker and colleagues were understanding when I was less available for office duties. My family and friends were very supportive and graciously accepted my busier-than-usual schedule.
The biggest challenge was the time commitment. Although the majority of the meetings and functions are planned well in advance, I had to juggle various obligations between the board, my career and family. As President, you are “on call” and there were unscheduled times when my presence or input was necessary. As the board’s spokesperson there would be media interviews after press releases. Occasionally I had to deal with after-hours concerns from our members, and I tried to reply in a timely manner. Serving in this position meant missing some family functions and fewer hours for my own career. However, the impact was not significant and I feel that the benefits outweighed the drawbacks.
Volunteering on a board, committee or task force is good preparation for anyone who wants to explore leadership opportunities in the future. I served as president-elect the previous year and had conversations with the past-president and executive officer to learn more about the president’s role. The OREA Leadership courses offered to presidents-elect and presidents were very much appreciated.
At the end of the day, the board president is accountable to the membership. Although I might not have personally agreed with every decision or opinion, it was about what served the best interests of the association as a whole. A board presidency is not a cookie-cutter position, and each individual will bring different strengths to this volunteer role. As with anything, the more you put into it, the more you will get out of it!
Jane Hurst served in 2014 as president of the Durham Region Association of REALTORS®, representing more than 1,000 members. She has been a REALTOR® for 16 years and is a sales representative with Coldwell Banker 2M Realty in Oshawa.