She has no idea who nominated her but Vernon mortgage professional Kari Gares is grateful.
Gares, who owns and operates Verico Mortgage House – Kari Gares, was named one of 82 Women of Influence across Canada by Canadian Mortgage Professionals (CMP).
To compile the 2021 Women of Influence list, CMP encouraged mortgage professionals to nominate outstanding female leaders from across the industry, with a particular focus on their achievements and initiatives over the past 12 months. Respondents were asked to identify their reasons for selecting their nominee as a Woman of Influence, including professional accomplishments and contributions to the industry, as well as their commitment to diversity and inclusion in the workplace.
Gares is one of 22 winners from B.C. Winners are not told who nominated them. For Gares, it’s her first such award.
“I was reasonably surprised,” said Gares, also a Vernon councillor and former president of North Okanagan Minor Lacrosse. “I don’t think of myself along those terms. It’s just get up, do your job, do it the best you. I’m not in it for the awards, but it is nice being recognized for the work you do, and not just in the industry you work within.”
Gares had visions as a high school graduate of being a criminal lawyer, but fell into the numbers world. She and husband, Tim, had just had their first child and were living in Kelowna. With Tim accepting an automotive technician internship in the Okanagan, Gares declined to go to the University of Victoria to continue her studies.
She was working for Canada Trust to put herself through school, landed a few different positions and gravitated to the role of mortgage brokering. She’s been in the industry since 1997, but only began mortgage brokering 10 years ago.
Being named a woman of influence, she says, reinforces that women can make a profound impact within the industry they work.
“It goes to show that hard work does pay off, that it is recognized,” said Gares. “Mortgage brokering is still a predominantly male-influenced career. The fact we’re starting to be recognized as trail blazers in our own right gives credibility to women, especially those who are moms, trying to raise families and juggle those elements simultaneously. “This helps women realize there is no such thing as a glass ceiling if you’re willing to work hard at it and break through that glass ceiling. It is doable.”
She juggled her new career with being a mom and now that her kids are grown, Gares can devote more time and effort to her job.
“I love what I do,” she said. “I love helping young families get into home ownership, and helping individuals rework their budgets to figure out what things they can do to better position themselves.”
The final Women of Influence list was selected by a judging panel made up of industry leaders and previous Women of Influence.
This is the ninth year of CMP’s Women of Influence list. There were 340 nominations this year.