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The power-women of PayLease

It’s difficult to imagine a time when women did not have the right to own property, were not encouraged to obtain a real education or pursue a professional career, and were arrested for simply attempting to vote. Our country has come a long way since the 1800’s thank goodness, and that is something to be celebrated! Happy International Women’s Day to all of the brilliant, driven, and powerful women shaking up the property management industry and the world.

Among Forbes’ list of the most powerful women in the United States are Janet Napolitano, Governor of Arizona from 2003 to 2009 and US Secretary of Homeland Security from 2009 to 2013. Sheryl Sandberg is the current COO of Facebook, and an activist, author, and founder of (an organization whose mission is to empower women to achieve their ambitions). Virginia Rometty is the chairman, president, and CEO of IBM, and notably the first woman to head the company. Meg Whitman is the current President and CEO of Hewlett Packard Enterprise, the former President and CEO of eBay, a former executive for The Walt Disney Company, DreamWorks, Procter & Gamble, and Hasbro, as well as a political activist and donor. While these women and many more are dominating the business and political worlds, we are especially proud of our rockstar female PayLeasers who are simply killing it.

Michelle Hammer, Director of Marketing

Michelle Hammer graduated from San Diego State University with an English degree, and joined PayLease as the twenty-first employee. As the company grew, she found her sweet spot in Marketing, and was given the opportunity to build out the department. She says she “loved having the opportunity to find and foster talent and move the right people in the right places. It was hard work, a lot of pressure, and to be honest a lot of people thought it would be a disaster, but I had a few really strong supporters, so sitting here now and looking at a team that I think is the greatest group of hard working people, is amazing.”

Michelle’s advice: “In the beginning of your career you need to be willing to grind and put in the hours. It’s painful sometimes, but you’ve just got to say yes to everyone and every project that comes in. Even if you don’t know how you are going to finish it in time, or you don’t even know how you will figure out how to start the project, say yes anyways. Build your reputation as the person that can always get it done.”

Janae Portugal, VP of Partner Success

Janae Portugal also attended San Diego State University and received her degree in Business Administration, Management. She was the sixteenth person to join PayLease and has seen every department expand and develop. She worked hard to become the Vice President of Partner Success, and has some excellent advice for young professionals.

Janae’s advice: “Find the right company for you: For me I was looking for a company with good people that I wanted to work for day in and day out. Work hard:  Put in your time and show you are willing to do what it takes to get the job done. Continue to grow: Learn from your mistakes, admit what you do not know and push yourself to step out of your comfort zone. Be positive: Be the person that finds the best of every situation. Find the solution instead of finding the problem and see others strengths instead of their weaknesses. Be Caring: Take pride in the work you do and the service you provide and care about the people around you whether that be your co-workers or your clients.”

Janae feels that great leadership has nothing to do with gender, all that matters to her is that whoever is in charge “can lead by example, [is] someone who can influence and motivate others, [is] a great communicator, transparent and [can] delegate work to foster collaboration. [I want] a leader that can think critically, and a leader that takes the time to develop others and provides constructive criticism.” 

Sydney Cowie, Training & Development Manager

Sydney Cowie attended The School of Theater and Music at the University of Illinois-Chicago. Sydney is our Training & Development Manager, and knows our billing products and business better than anyone in the organization.

Sydney’s Advice “figure out your strengths as well as your weaknesses and then figure out how to use both to your advantage.”

She recognizes that women in the workplace tend to downplay their skills and knowledge because they don’t want to come off brash and bossy. She says, “on the flip side, we don’t want to ask for help because we are afraid of coming off as weak. It’s ok to know your stuff and it’s equally OK to be vulnerable at times.” However, Sydney pointed out that “gender does not have an influence on an individual’s ability to be a leader. We all bring the benefit of our different life experiences to our teams.” Sydney’s strengths and personal experiences, along with her knowledge of the company make her an invaluable PayLeaser.

Kristin Runyan, SVP of Talent

Kristin Runyan has her BBA in Accounting from TCU, and her MBA in International Business from SLU (Texas Christian University and Saint Louis University)​. Her passion for Agile methodologies inspired her to write and publish two books; Introduction to Agile Methods, and ChangeInc: An Agile Fable of Transformation. She currently serves as our Senior Vice President of Talent, and throughout her career has been a mentor to many young professionals who have been promoted within their organization. She considers this to be one of her greatest accomplishments. 

Kristin’s Advice: “Do not speak in a self-depreciating way thinking you are being humble (or honest). You will seldom hear a male counterpart say ‘well, I am not very technical…’ but women do it all the time. You are smart, you are capable and you deserve a seat at the table. If there is something you want to learn, then learn it – but don’t announce that deficiency to the world.​” Although women are equally capable of becoming great leaders, Kristin acknowledges that “women bring a different perspective that is needed in the workplace. We all know that men and women think differently and so we need that balance at all levels to make sure we are thinking through all courses of action with the appropriate considerations.​”

These outstanding women are just a few of the female movers and shakers of PayLease who have been integral contributors to our many successes over the years. Which amazing women inspire you? Be sure to celebrate them today and everyday. Happy International Women’s Day!

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