March 4, 2024 - Industry News

IHM Celebrating International Women's Week - Zeljka Budjinsk

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Zeljka Budjinsk

President & CEO
Williams & McDaniel

As we celebrate International Women’s Week, I am pleased to share my journey in the property management industry, a path that began with humble beginnings and led to considerable achievements. I currently hold the position of CEO at Williams & McDaniel Property Mgt., where I oversee the overall operations and strategic direction of the company, ensuring its growth and success.

What led you to a career in property management?

My journey in property management commenced in February 1991 when I arrived in Canada, equipped with determination but lacking in English communication skills. Despite this language barrier, I embarked on the journey of learning about the property management industry, starting from scratch as a Building Manager. It was a journey marked by challenges, but with perseverance and dedication, I honed my skills and gradually ascended the ranks within the industry.

I am immensely grateful to have been welcomed into the fold of Williams & McDaniel Property Management, an organization that recognized my potential and provided me with opportunities to grow. Over the years, I have worked tirelessly in various roles within the company, from a Building Manager and then moving to administrative positions to becoming a certified property manager with IHM, then progressing to Director of Operations, President, and finally, assuming the role of CEO.

My journey from a newcomer to Canada with limited English proficiency to the CEO of a billion-dollar company based on merit is a testament to the remarkable opportunities Canada offers. Regardless of my gender or any language barriers, meritocracy has been the guiding principle in my career trajectory. Performance and capability have always been measured solely on merit, and it is this philosophy that has propelled me to success.

As the CEO of Williams & McDaniel Property Mgt., my goal is to foster an environment where hard work is recognized and rewarded, where meritocracy prevails, and where every individual has the opportunity to thrive and contribute to our collective success.

Reflecting on the changes in the property management industry, I have witnessed a significant shift towards professionalism, driven by advancements in technology and an increased focus on innovation. However, there remains immense scope for growth, and I believe that industry leaders must continue to contribute towards shaping its future trajectory.

What is your proudest professional moment?

My proudest professional moment was successfully leading a major renovation project that revitalized a struggling property, transforming it into a thriving community village. This endeavor not only showcased my leadership abilities but also underscored the transformative impact property management can have on communities.

What has been your biggest challenge?

Navigating a complex regulatory landscape during a period of industry transition has been one of my biggest challenges. It required strategic adaptation and proactive compliance measures, underscoring the importance of agility and foresight in navigating the dynamic landscape of property management.

Who do you consider a mentor or hero?

The Institute of Housing Management (IHM) has been pivotal in shaping my career, providing vital support and knowledge. Getting my IHM certification and having access to their resources kept me updated on industry trends and regulations, enabling my success in property management. 

I am also, grateful for the guidance and mentorship of Lorraine Kleinstuber, whose expertise and leadership have been instrumental in shaping my approach to property management. Her insights have been invaluable in navigating challenges and seizing opportunities within the industry.

What is the best advice you ever received?

The best advice I ever received was to always prioritize integrity and transparency in all business dealings, as they are the cornerstones of long-term success and trust. This principle has guided my interactions and decisions throughout my career, earning the respect and trust of colleagues, clients, and tenants alike.

What advice would you give to those entering the property management profession?

For those entering the property management profession, I would advise embracing continuous learning, cultivating strong communication skills, and prioritizing building genuine relationships with clients and tenants. These qualities are essential for success in an industry that thrives on effective communication and customer relationships.

What changes have you seen in property management in recent years?

In recent years, technology has revolutionized property management, streamlining processes, enhancing communication, and enabling data-driven decision-making. Looking ahead, I anticipate continued evolution in sustainability practices, increased focus on tenant experience, and further integration of AI and automation into property management workflows.

Fun fact you wish to share:

I would like to share a fun fact about myself. Outside of my professional endeavors, I find solace and joy in moments of solitude, indulging in various arts and crafts activities as a form of self-expression and relaxation. This passion for creativity enriches my life and allows me to approach challenges with a renewed sense of energy and perspective.

I am excited to join in the celebration of International Women’s Week and to share my story alongside other women who have contributed to the success of the professional property management industry.