- Rebecca Jensen, president and CEO of Midwest Real Estate Data (MRED) recently received the Women's Council of Realtors Chicago Elevate Award.
- The award recognizes an individual or company that promotes and supports the advancement of women in real estate.
- Jensen has a background in computer science, and an MBA.
Rebecca Jensen, president and CEO of Midwest Real Estate Data (MRED) recently received the Women’s Council of Realtors (WCR) Chicago Elevate Award, which recognizes an individual or company that promotes and supports the advancement of women in real estate.
Jensen spoke with Inman about the award, the highlights of her career, and how her background got her to where she is today. Her comments have been edited for brevity and clarity.
What is your educational background?
My bachelor’s degree is in Computer Science from Westminster College, and I have an MBA in technology. There were not a lot of women in my programs; many times I was the only woman in my class! It had been my nature to gravitate toward technology even before I started high school– I took extracurriculars in things like Lotus Notes and database design. It’s really what always excited me.
How did you get your start in the real estate industry?
During college, I had an internship where our team developed our own software in the real estate space. I started working at what is now the regional MLS in Utah, now called UtahRealEstate.com and kept rising through the ranks there.
What do you consider your main accomplishments in Utah?
I started my real estate career in Utah in 1998. I’m Utah born and bred. I worked my way up to CEO of UtahRealEstate.com in 2007, right before the bubble burst. Those were definitely trying times. The software we had then dated back to the ’90s, with a few patches thrown on now and then.
We had a great opportunity then to rebuild the MLS from the ground up, including the public-facing website. Our team did it in less than two years, in-house, and the project came in under budget. We definitely did it faster and cheaper than a software company would have done it for us.
What do you consider your greatest accomplishment since coming to Chicago in March 2015?
When I arrived, we were waiting on the Zillow agreement. It definitely changes how MRED interacts with brokers. So that we could learn more about the broker community, we conducted town hall meetings so that we could really get feedback from the people who own us, the brokers.
Then we had focus groups to delve into very specific topics, like the private listing network that we’re working on. That extensive amount of listening will enable to carry out the work we’ve set out to do in MRED’s strategic plan – things like that broker public portal and a transaction management platform. We’re also highly involved with the analytic work group at RESO.
How does giving back to the community play a role in your career?
When I was in Utah, I spent a lot of time giving back in volunteering with my college’s alumni association. Part of what I did was speak to students at orientation. I’m a big believer in letting people know that a lot of the educational experience involves what you learn outside of what’s in books. I encouraged them to learn how to network, and how that would help them build a career even before they get out of school. I think it’s important to pay attention to the soft skills.
I’ve also been on the board of Intermountain Health in Utah. During my career, I’ve also been member of the Executive Committee for the COVE MLS group and the MLS Executive Advisory Board at Realtor.com. I’m in my final term with RESO, as secretary and I’m on the Broker Public Portal Board of Managers.
What is your advice for women in real estate, and what does this award mean to you?
I think that there is a very good mix of women and men in real estate as a whole, and I’ve been noticing some huge strides in the participation of women in the technology sector, too. I went to a few RESO conferences where I was the only woman there, and more recently I see more and more. Networking is very important.
Organizations like WCR are terrific as well, and I have been a strong supporter throughout my professional career of the great work they do educating and promoting women. I’m flattered that they chose me for the Elevate Award. I’ve been so appreciative of the warm welcome they extended to me when I moved here and I thank them for their support.