Michelle PoulinPublished: March 8, 2019
Women in Leadership: Meet Michelle
Born and raised in Minnesota, Michelle is no stranger to the multi-family rental industry. With over 20 years of experience in her pocket, she has seen a lot of change take place, not only in the role of women in the field, but in the industry as a whole.
Michelle’s career started when working on-site as a Leasing Agent for a property management company in the United States. She quickly worked her way up through operations to Assistant Manager and then to Manager. Eventually, she started working for another company in accounts payable and handling damage deposits.
In 2000, Michelle and her husband made the big decision to move to Canada, as they wanted to have their boys grow up here. Boardwalk had a reputation for being the friendliest and best property management company, so that’s who she wanted to work for. After successfully applying for an opening in procurement, Michelle started doing maintenance job scheduling. Flash forward a few years, and she’s happy to say she’s the proud leader of Boardwalk’s procurement team. We sat down with Michelle to speak about the challenges she faced and any advice she has to offer those wanting to follow her path.
What are some traits you think successful leaders possess?
I would say the ability to listen is the biggest one. I think that it just allows you to be more collaborative and allows you to learn from the people around you whether that be your peers, your associates, your mentors or more senior leaders.
Who inspired you and why?
My inspiration is more of a personal one to me. It’s my grandmother. She was just a tough little lady! She taught me about grace, respect and always persevering through difficult situations.
What’s one leadership lesson you’ve learned in your career?
I think it goes back to listening. You can learn a lot if you just allow yourself to hear what other people have to say. I think that’s the biggest takeaway I’ve had in my career. Learning can come from anywhere if you just open yourself up to it.
What are, from your perspective, the most prominent challenges women face in leadership roles?
I think the toughest challenge is being able to be empathetic and caring without it being seen as a weakness. We’ve come a long way, and that’s terrific. However, there are still some old stereotypes that persist. We’ve still got some work to do to get there!
What are you doing to grow and develop as a leader continually?
I am all for continuous learning. I’m taking some university courses right now. I also encourage every member of my team to pursue additional courses as well. Boardwalk is so great in that they also encourage continuous learning by providing funding to associates that they can use towards their education.
If you had advice for your 18-year-old self, what would it be?
Don’t be afraid to fail. I think everyone is very leery of it because it’s not much fun, but I think you learn the most when you fail. Most importantly, you learn how to get back up and try again. Don’t be scared - if you want to try something, try it. Everyone fails sometimes, so take the lessons from it and move on.