Stephanie MacDonald: A Tenacious Leader Forging Paths to Real Estate Success

Stephanie MacDonald: A Tenacious Leader | The MacDonald Team | CIO Women Magazine

Success stories have always been an exception and not the norm. The following is the story of Stephanie MacDonaldPrincipal of the The MacDonald Team at Compass Real Estate, and how she became one of the most influential real estate leaders despite having a legal background and no prior marketing experience.

Seven years after practicing law, Stephanie felt discontent and entered the world that appealed to her more—Real Estate. From a purely professional standpoint, an Attorney and a Realtor are poles apart. Howeverwith her perseverance, Stephanie tackled the real estate challenges and stood out among her peers.

Perseverance amidst Challenges

Getting clients remains the primary challenge for any realtor. Recognizing that a realtor’s job is more than showcasing and enjoying seeing different homes is essential. The process primarily includes marketing and negotiation skills. As an attorney, Stephanie MacDonald is a trained negotiator in resolving conflicts and advocating for her clients—a skillset that differentiates her from other realtors.

Switching careers and being able to implement and fit my skillset into a new career as well as learn marketing skills was a big challenge.

Amidst all the challenges, hard work and perseverance paved Stephanie MacDonald’s success in real estate. As a business heavily reliant on referrals, having happy clients who refer Stephanie to other potential prospects fueled her and the team to make a mark in the industry.

Stephanie MacDonald’s Definition of an Ideal Leader

A leader must be resilient. However, amidst all the hard work, one has to balance professional and personal life—a difficult yet not impossible thing to achieve. Especially for women, it’s an ongoing struggle, says Stephanie MacDonald.

Under Stephanie MacDonald’s leadership, the business is expanding into South Jersey and the surrounding shore areas. To make the expansion seamless, the team has hired new expert agents who are South Jersey natives and know every nook and cranny to serve people better while providing relevant knowledge and information.

A Personalized Experience

With over two decades in the real estate world, Stephanie has met some great people with diverse backgrounds and personalities. You can tell so much about a person based on their career choices—Psychology plays a much bigger role  than I had previously thought going into this career.

To effectively deal with people from diverse backgrounds, a leader must possess people skills to adapt to each personality type. Stephanie values the personal touch in business a lot. She is hands-on and always available to her clients throughout the deal and even after the closing. Many of her clients become her friends and she always has referrals for them for whatever they need, whether it’s a doctor, school, contractor, seamstress, place for a birthday party, or where to buy a prom dress–she is happy to help in any way and people trust her recommendations and appreciate it. 

A takeaway from Stephanie MacDonald in her journey: keeping a personal touch and not turning the business into a mass machine is vital.

There is a right and a wrong way for everything. I oversee my team to ensure everything is being done properly, personally and the right way.

Turning a Plan into Reality

One must be focused on what they want to do. Success does not come easy but through hard work. To achieve your business and personal goals, one must have a plan and work toward turning that plan into reality with a positive attitude.

Without having a positive approach, there is a risk of falling down the rabbit hole. A positive attitude does not mean there won’t be bad days. When you have a bad day or don’t get the listing you have to be resilient and move on to the next day. You can learn something from almost every deal. Moreover, if you need to get educated or need resources to help you reach your goals efficiently, you should not let that opportunity go.

Find a goal, find something you love to do, and then your work becomes easier. It doesn’t feel like work if you truly enjoy what you’re doing.

Women’s Corner

CIO Women Magazine is honored to present snippets from a candid interview with Stephanie MacDonald, where she sheds light on career setbacks, her definition of feminism, how she strikes the work-life balance, her leadership philosophy, what inspires her to keep going, and more!

1. As a woman leader, what have been your biggest career challenges? Have you faced any gender-related biases or barriers?

When I was a lawyer, there was definitely more of a gender-related barrier there as opposed to as a realtor. There are more women realtors than men so it is not seen as a male-dominated industry.

The legal field was a very male-dominated industry. I would often walk into a deposition, and they would think I was the stenographer and tell me where to set up my typewriter to record the deposition. And I would have to say: no, I’m the attorney. I’m here to take the deposition. There was an assumption that you were the stenographer if you were female, especially a young female. I think that was one of the reasons I switched careers. I just felt like even after practicing law for eight years, I was still treated the same way.

Flipping that to real estate, it was almost a breath of fresh air, but there were different challenges to face. A lot of people assume realtors are not smart as there is no required degree. Having a legal background and being professional has allowed me to stand out among my peers. I approach being a realtor as if I were an attorney- keeping my clients’ information and searches confidential, protecting their interest, and negotiating on their behalf.

2. What is your definition of feminism and how do you ensure inclusion and empowerment in your organization?

I think feminism can be achieved by treating everyone equally and having common goals. For me, it is staying true to who I am and using my experiences to empower my team to be the best they can be.

3. How do you ensure a perfect work-life balance?

There is no perfect work-life balance but being organized is essential. I am married and have two daughters. Life is busy, so I have to be organized. If that requires getting up an hour or two earlier than normal to check email before anyone is awake, that’s what I do. If my children need to be driven somewhere, I try to schedule clients around that or find someone to help drive if needed. 

It’s important to prioritize your life. There are times when I have to schedule around a child’s game or competition for a family event. Most clients understand that in this day and age, and we can always find a time that works for both of us.

4. What is your leadership philosophy as a woman leader, and how do you incorporate it into your organization?

I think it’s so important to stay in touch with your team and be available for questions or help in any way. I try to be a role model to the team and open communication is essential to running a team. 

5. How do you incorporate technology into your offerings or services?

Technology is a huge part of what I do. Everything is online in today’s world.  Compass offers more technological services than any other real estate company.We are ahead of the game in keeping agents organized and efficient..

Professional photography, social media presence, and websites are all so essential as a realtor. Let’s face it if the pictures of the house are not perfect no one will even want to see it. Today we can virtually stage vacant homes and showcase any home in the best light possible with technology. I also use aerial photos to show a great pool, yard or neighborhood, walk-through videos and 3D virtual tours. I also consistently use technology to keep in touch with  my clients.

6. What is that one thing, a person that inspires you to keep going irrespective of the challenges?

That’s easy. Just seeing a client’s joy when they finally get their dream home. They see their future-raising their children, decorating the rooms, creating memories- I love that and it makes me happy that I was able to contribute to their dream.

7. What are the key achievements or milestones from your professional career that you would love to highlight?

With almost two decades of experience as a realtor on the Main Line, in Center City Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey, I’ve been named a Main Line Top Producer for the past seven years and also a Philly Magazine Top Producer for the past 4 years. I have also been recognized as a Five-Star Realtor for more than a decade—an award based on client satisfaction that only the top 5% of Realtors receive. Furthermore, I rank in the top 1% of realtors across the nation. My achievements, client testimonials, and repeated referrals demonstrate the value I bring to each of my clients.  



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