Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Becky Hill of Keller Williams Realty Professionals

The True Heart of a Leader: Introducing the 2009 National President of the Women’s Council of Realtors®
By Kate Sullivan-Conlan

Have you had the pleasure of meeting Becky Hill, the 2009 national president of the Women’s Council of REALTORS® and a top-producing broker at Keller Williams Realty Professionals? According to her long-time business partner and friend Joanie Sharpe, Becky is a person who is “always available to help anyone, anywhere, with pretty much anything,” all the while serving as a leader on so many levels in the real estate industry.

Introducing the New President of the Women’s Council of Realtors®

Becky’s election as the 2009 President of the Women’s Council of REALTORS®, the first president ever to be elected from the greater Houston area, is a richly deserved tribute for a lifetime of service. Mark Willis, CEO of Keller Williams International, Inc. says, “Becky is a true servant leader at heart,” and Becky herself acknowledges, “I’ve served my profession in various leadership capacities for many years now; it’s just become part of my life.”

The Women’s Council, chartered in 1938 as an affiliated council of the National Association of REALTORS®, captured Becky’s interest several years ago with the training and networking opportunities it made available for women. “When I looked around the real estate industry,” says Becky, “the most professional women I met were in Women’s Council. The organization has always been known as a trainer of leaders, both in real estate and in the larger community; so, realizing that, who wouldn’t want to associate with this group?”

As the twelfth largest women’s organization of any kind in the United States, the Women’s Council’s mission states, “We are a network of successful REALTORS® empowering women to exercise their potential as entrepreneurs and industry leaders.” The Council originally served to give women entering the real estate industry training to allow them to compete with their male counterparts. “Whereas men were paid a commission, a female agent might have been offered a bottle of wine,” explains Becky. Today, many men belong to local chapters and serve in leadership positions, but the Council still “predominantly serves women, encouraging more and more women to accept leadership roles and gain the skills they need to compete successfully.”

Over the years, leading up to her installment as president, Becky took on numerous leadership and service positions to further the Vision of the Council. She has served in every role nationally as an officer and has helped develop and participate in many of the Council’s training and mentoring programs. “We gear our training for those who want to reach the highest levels of accomplishment within their careers and in their local communities as well.” The four premier courses in the Council’s new curriculum, called “Performance Management Network,” focus on an individual’s performance skills and personal development. With her expertise, it is no mystery why Becky is a certified instructor for all of the courses.

Broker JoAnne Poole, of Poole Realty in Maryland, first met Becky at WCR meetings many years ago. She attests that Becky has moved through leadership positions, always “staying grounded and reminding everyone that ‘It’s all about the members.’ With her mentoring skills, educational instructions, and her rational and visionary thinking, Becky has inspired and motivated the members throughout the country.” Joanie Sharpe adds, “Becky has garnered the respect and admiration of the entire real estate industry nationwide. The honor of becoming the president of the Women’s Council is achieved by only a few.”

Becky dedicates her energy to the Women’s Council in no small part because she herself has benefited so greatly from the organization. “Women’s Council provides a huge support system for all its members,” says Becky. “Regardless of where I am in the United States, all I have to do is pick up a phone and call another member. If I’m stranded or if I need help on a topic I am not knowledgeable about, someone would be there to pick me up or to look up that information for me.” Recently, the Council revamped its national website and online Member Search feature so that members can now search specific fields of member expertise for everything from good marketing ideas to information sources for the best cell phones and computer equipment. Members across the country also network to give one another leads and referrals for relocating clients. “It makes it so much easier because we can find the needed information right within our own network.” Becky adds, “All of us openly share our knowledge and expertise, and that sharing makes us strong as an organization. In fact, it’s like one big extended family.”

A further commitment of the Women’s Council that Becky especially supports is “giving back to our communities that support us as professionals in our businesses.” Hand-in-hand with training and networking, a goal of WCR is “to educate and promote women and their influence in every phase of society, not just in real estate,” says Becky. “Since most of the Council’s activity is at the local level, we encourage our members to reach out to other organizations within their communities – Chambers of Commerce, civic and charitable organizations, as well as various political groups. Local chapters of WCR are critical; they are the delivery points of all we want our members to do in their own communities; they serve as the business resource centers for local agents.” Many chapters raise funds and volunteer time with local organizations such as Candlelighters, battered women’s shelters, Habitat for Humanity, etc. Others support scholarships for college-bound girls and provide skills training programs for women and children.

What does Becky want to be remembered for when her presidency is over? With the financial situation and recent mortgage crisis people have been experiencing in the US, Women’s Council, like many other organizations, lost some members last year and experienced some internal conflict. “I want to be remembered as the president who cared about each and every member and the struggles they are facing in their chapters, their careers, and in their personal lives. I hope to bring us one step closer to realization of the Council’s vision of making a difference in the industry and in our communities,” states Becky. She wants to re-energize and focus directly on the members, meeting their needs and assisting them locally to become stronger and more viable in their communities and profession. “If we can accomplish these things, then the future will be bright for Women’s Council, and this should be a year of healing and growth.”

Personally for Becky, her role as president “will be an experience of a lifetime.” She will be traveling across the country to visit local and state chapters and doing what she loves – meeting and educating people and making new friends.

Leading on the State and Local Level – With a personal Touch

As Joanie Sharpe says, “Becky has always led by example.” She encourages other agents through Women’s Council to become involved in their communities, but she leads the way with her own involvement in education and in the political arena.
For the past four years, Becky has served as a PAC Trustee for the Houston and Texas Associations of REALTORS®. Her participation keeps her up-to-date on proceedings that could affect the real estate industry, and it facilitates her networking across the state. For example, TREPAC insures that bills get passed that support property ownership rights and that benefit the whole industry. Becky shares that information with other agents and her clients, for “it’s good to be thought of as someone who not only is an expert in the industry but who also really knows what’s going on that could impact the industry.”

Becky imbues her work at every level with a focus on the personal: “Without a personal touch I don’t think I could have accomplished what I have been able to so far in my career.” Her passion for people comes through especially in her teaching at the Champions School of Real Estate, where she shares her knowledge with new agents coming into the field. Friend Janis Spiller says of Becky, “She really cares about the education and quality of other agents, and there is no one who exceeds her knowledge of the contract and real estate transaction.” Teaching these courses,” Becky adds, “allows me to use my talents as a teacher alongside my knowledge and experience in the industry. I love being able to do the two things that I’m really passionate about.” Rita Santamaria, owner and president of Champions School of Real Estate, says that Becky gets “rave reviews from her students as an outstanding communicator.” Rita honored Becky with a Teacher of the Year award, and, according to Joanie Sharpe, her students say that Becky is the best teacher they have ever had.

Joining Keller Williams: Leader, Mentor, Friend

Becky grew up with her four siblings in the Appalachian Mountain area of southwest Virginia. Her father worked in the coal mines from the time he was in the ninth grade until he retired, so Becky truly is a “coal miner’s daughter.” Her mother was the regional manager for World Book and Child Craft Encyclopedias and gave Becky her first exposure to the world of sales. “I was really somewhat of a country bumpkin when I left home for college, and then I wanted to learn as much as I could about the rest of the world,” says Becky. She majored in math and science, married, and moved with her husband to Houston in 1970 after they had both graduated from college. She taught in the public school system for ten years, and during the years of her marriage, she and her husband invested in real estate. They would buy the worst house in the best neighborhood they could afford, and, after working weekends on the house, would then resell it. “We did flips before flips were popular! I loved it, and we never lost money on any of our properties,” says Becky. “That’s when I first started getting the real estate bug and decided to someday get a license!”

Joanie Sharpe was Becky’s agent on her last house transaction. She encouraged Becky to get her real estate license and join her in the business. “Joanie was my mentor,” says Becky. “She was always there to answer my questions and support me. She soon became my friend.”

At first, Becky continued to teach and work part-time at a small real estate agency. When she became more serious about a real estate career, she quit the classroom and took a full-time position with REALMCO Realty, later known as Saffold Company Realtors, where they offered more formal training. “I knew from the beginning that training would be the key to becoming highly successful in the business,” says Becky, “and that’s why Keller Williams became so attractive to me later on.”

Keller Williams Realty found Becky in 1990, when she was managing an office in the Memorial area, and they approached her about opening the first Keller Williams office in Houston. Since Becky lived in the Champions area in NW Houston, she declined the offer. Later, partnering with Joanie Sharpe, they opened a Keller Williams office just one year later, nearer both of their homes, and became the second market center location in the city. Janis Spiller of Houston Title remembers first meeting Becky in the early 90’s when they were opening the office: “She wanted to open an office that gave back to the agents and gave them some advantages they otherwise would not have had. Keller Williams met that need.”

Four years ago, Becky and Joanie sold their business so they could once again concentrate on their own clients and sales, for Becky “loves working with the public.” She does only residential sales, and hers is a totally referral-based business through former clients and her networking with Woman’s Council and other organizations. She has consistently earned sales awards and historically places in the top 10% in Keller Williams in productivity. Becky remains a Broker Associate, at the same company that she and Joanie once owned. The office, which recently merged with another location to form Keller Williams Realty Professionals, is strategically located to better serve the needs of her clients throughout NW Houston, Spring, Cypress, Tomball, Kingwood and The Woodlands.

“The real mark of my success, I believe,” says Becky, “has been my personalized services to my clients before, during, and after the sale. It’s important to be there initially and then continue to do as much as you can even after closing. I focus on my clients in a real estate transaction because buying a house is a tremendous expenditure and one of their most highly emotionally charged dealings.” She adds, “The commission is the last thing to worry about because you will be paid handsomely if you do a great job and focus on first serving the needs of your clients.”

The focus on formal training and mentoring at Keller Williams first attracted Becky to the company and, seventeen years later, continues to hold her loyalty. Becky was part of the original training crew and nurtured their efforts as training “blossomed and grew” at Keller Williams. Her commitment to continuing personal and professional development also led Becky to the Women’s Council. “The principles of Keller Williams Realty and Women’s Council of REALTORS® are so much in alignment with each other,” she explains. “Both organizations are vitally interested in what their agents/members feel and are structured to get that input from the field. They both focus intensely on training and believe in delivering programs that can elevate an agent to the next level(s) of success.”

Between her own business, her teaching, her work with the Women’s Council and TREPAC, Becky long ago learned to manage her time efficiently so that she still has time to be with her friends. “I have many close friends in the Houston area,” says Becky, “and I have remained friends with many dear people all over the country over the years.” Becky also makes sure she gets together with her family with whom she feels very close even though they live far apart.

Joanie Sharpe cannot say enough about Becky’s personal commitment to others. “She is the person who will be there when a loved one is lost, a job is lost, or a heart is broken, supporting you with words of encouragement or perhaps just sitting silently and imparting strength through her presence.” Janis Spiller adds, “Consistently putting the needs of others before her own, she always manages to show up with turkey or ham, dressing, and all the trimmings so my sister and I don’t miss out on the joys of the holidays while caring for our ailing mother in the nursing home.”

The True Heart of Leadership

To those entering a career in real estate, Becky Hill is adamant in her advice. Number one: Get the training. “If you want to sell at high levels, always continue to learn. If you were to survey successful agents, they’d credit their success to the training they’d received throughout their careers.” And number two: Network. “You must get out of your office. Work with other organizations and work in your community to expand your influence.”

Becky’s leadership in real estate on the national, state, and local levels is centered in her care and commitment to the professionalism of her industry, to the growth and success of her associates, to her personal concern for her clients, and to a deep love of her friends. As Joanie Sharpe says, “Becky will be there to celebrate your victories."

No comments: