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What job can you get with a linguistics degree that has an emphasis on French? In 1982 (two years after graduation), Avison Young principal Marty Almquist (here with her oldest son) found a job as a secretary at a real estate company, Meredith & Grew, in Boston, where her husband was in grad school at MIT. Working on the real estate finance side, she saw what the brokers were doing and was hooked—she went to night school, got her license, and “when I found the first opportunity to get a job as a broker, I grabbed it. After all, I had three strikes against me—I was young, I was a woman, and I was not from Boston,” she tells us. Fast-forward 30 years, she's continued working as a broker and still loves it. Marty's worked both sides—her first 18 years were with Grubb & Ellis as a third-party broker, and then in 2005 she was approached by Equity Office Properties to oversee its 4M SF NoVa office portfolio. She’d only been on the portfolio a couple of years before Blackstone bought EOP in '07, so when Blackstone gave the leasing of all of its buildings to Cassidy Turley, Marty went there, too.

In 2011, Marty (with current colleague Nick Gregorios) was approached by Avison Young to be a principal, work with both landlords and tenants on their leasing needs, and help grow the Canadian company (there are now over 1,500 real estate professionals in 54 offices in North America). So she seized the opportunity. “We own our own company,” she says. “I didn’t realize how important ownership was to me until I had it at Equity Office and it was yanked out from under me.” (Is this also why people will fund anything on Kickstarter?) These days, she tells us she’s working to connect her long-term clients in deals behind the scenes—"much more fun than brawling it out on the smaller, high-risk transactions.” She also loves mentoring young people who are just entering the real estate business. She’s still married to her college sweetheart of 33 years and has one son who's a chef and one who'll soon be a civil engineer.