#SP200 Leader Pamela Alexander, RE/MAX Integra CEO
Editor’s note: Published by the residential real estate strategic consulting and information firm Swanepoel T3 Group each January, the Swanepoel Power 200 (SP200) ranks the real estate industry’s most powerful, influential leaders. It also recognizes leaders in several subcategories, from technology execs to social influencers.
The SP200 rankings reflect a rigorous, careful evaluation process supported by data and a detailed methodology. To help make its selections, the Swanepoel T3 Group maintains a robust database, with stats and information on more than 1,000 real estate executives and leaders. It spends hundreds of hours poring over data, debating internally and verifying all candidates before settling on its list each year.
In the runup to the 2017 list, the fourth, Swanepoel T3 Group is profiling leaders and executives included on one of the nine 2016 SP200 lists published earlier this year.
As CEO of the North American division of Re/Max brand’s largest sub-franchisor Re/Max Integra, Pamela Alexander, 60, helps shape the business lives of more than 16,000 agents. Alexander came in at No. 73 on the 2016 SP200 Powerlist, which ranks real estate’s 200 most powerful leaders.
Alexander runs the North American operations of the firm, which has over 35,000 agents in four Re/Max master franchise regions covering Ontario and Atlantic Canada, New England, the Midwest and Europe. Her brother, Michael Polzler, 50, runs the firm’s European operations.
Alexander carries on Re/Max Integra’s strong family legacy. Her father, Frank Polzler, 83, founded Re/Max Integra in 1980 with business partner Walter Schneider, 63. Both are still active.
The family leadership continues: Alexander’s daughter, Leah Ambler, 35, runs the 175-agent Toronto brokerage Re/Max Professionals Inc., the same firm her mother cut her teeth on three decades prior. Her son, Christopher Alexander, 31, is regional director for Re/Max Integra’s Canada division. (Schneider’s children are also involved in the business).
Alexander has the firm humming on all cylinders; it sold 75 franchisees last year. She answered a few questions from SP200 about her career and leadership philosophy.
Briefly describe your career trajectory.
I got my real estate license in 1979 and worked with my father at an independent brokerage in Toronto, which I led as broker-owner from 1985 to 1995 and grew from seven agents to over 250.
In 1995, I became regional director of Re/Max Integra’s Canada division, Re/Max Ontario-Atlantic Canada. Then in 1999, a year after my father and Walter Schneider moved to Vienna to expand our firm’s operations there, I stepped into oversee our U.S. operations as CEO.
What is your leadership secret sauce?
You have to have a vision carved in reality but with an eye set on the future. You can only achieve that vision if you understand the business you’re in.
Growing up in the business gave me an advantage. I have a feel for what’s next and how it will impact agents, consumers and the industry as a whole.
I’m a big believer of goals. For example, we are squarely focused on surpassing 40,000 agents within Re/Max Integra and increasing all our agents’ productivity by 40 percent.
Persistence is huge, but also caring.
You have to know your why. For me, it’s supporting our immense family legacy, knowing that I’m the custodian for the brand, our brokers and agents. We’re deeply involved in all aspects of our business on a personal level; this is one thing that sets us apart.
Pamela Alexander in her Mississauga, Ontario, office.
Favorite “leadership” books, resources?
In general, modern leadership books are just rewrites of the past greats. Success boils down to some simple things, a good attitude and hard work chief among them. There’s really no magic pill, just work, work, work.
What’s at the top of your to-do list right now?
I’m really focused on franchise sales at the moment, also recruiting. I often sit with the agents our brokers are looking to bring in to help sell them on the firm.
What gets me out of bed and excited right now: delivering the Re/Max promise, making our brokers and agents feel like joining us was the best professional choice they’ve ever made.
I’m also working hard to increase the productivity of our agents.
Favorite relaxing activity that’s not hanging with family?
Bird-watching and walking.
What are the biggest trends you see in the industry right now?
Technology’s here to stay. My biggest concern is the number of real estate licensees who are not full-time professionals. For NAR and CREA and real estate boards, it’s a numbers game.
Real estate education is probably OK right now. However, if you’re not selling a certain number of transactions within 24 months of getting your license, I think you should leave the business.
We need to ensure consumers have a good, positive experience where they can say they really got something from the transaction. Part-time, inexperienced agents just can’t really deliver that. Real estate will never be seen as fully professional without making a change.