International Women's Day 2024: Kim Maust

International Women's Day 2024: Kim Maust

After 13 years of creating meaningful change with Habitat for Humanity, Kim Maust joined the New Development industry and quickly became Vice President at Bastion Development. Now an industry stalwart, Kim operates as a Vice President at Conwest Developments, where she oversees the entire development process for a multitude of projects. Kim shared her career journey, as well as how she refused to let others expectations limit her achievements.

Kim Maust, you’re a Vice President of Conwest Developments. Can you start off by just telling me what you do?

I'm a development manager, so I take projects from beginning to completion. I'm in charge of making sure that everything happens from having the project designed to having it built, and then turning it over to customers.

How did you get your start in the industry? Where did it come from? 

I started 30 years ago, it's hard to say. [laughs.] I started with an organization called Habitat for Humanity. We built homes for low-income families, free of profit. I started out with them in the state of Michigan a long time ago. Over time, I worked on a number of Habitat for Humanity projects throughout Ontario, and finally brought the organization out to Vancouver.

If you had to look back, could you share one defining moment that helped shape your career?

After Habitat for Humanity, I decided it was time for me to actually start my career and joined Bastion Development as the executive assistant to the owner. On one project, we had an occupancy challenge where residential rental customers were ready to move in, but we didn’t have the occupancy available for everybody due to a political snag. It wasn't my job, but I decided to jump in and handle it. I called on my contacts in the industry that I made through Habitat for Humanity, and I was able to remove the snag that was preventing us from having occupancy in about a 24 hour period. I was able to turn it over to my boss so that he could close on the mortgage to get customers into the buildings. Quite literally, there were trucks already booked to move people in two days later, but we managed to get it done. After that, he gave me a promotion and more responsibility, and I ran with those responsibilities. 

You manage and are responsible for so much. What characteristics do you think allow you success in what you do?

I think probably the most interesting aspect of my journey was that I never let what other people thought define what I was capable of. Because of that, I didn't see myself as having any limits and I didn't take on any of their limited beliefs. I came into the industry from a different perspective. Working with a charitable organization, you're already punching above your weight. You're already trying to achieve what you're not supposed to be able to achieve. At Habitat for Humanity, we were building buildings with volunteers, like whoever heard of that? [laughs.] So by starting off believing I was capable of pulling off things that people didn’t expect me to be able to pull off, I felt that those limited beliefs didn’t apply to me. I think that was probably what defined me most, I just simply didn't have any belief system that said, I can't.

Did you have any mentors along the way? 

I’ve had so many great mentors, and I’m grateful for every one. There's so many inspirational women in the industry. I’m inspired by Vancouver City counselors Lisa Dominato and Sarah Kirby-Yun. Brenda Locke, the mayor of Surrey is a great example as well. There's so many good people to go to, there’s women in business in Vancouver that I find inspirational like Jacqui Cohen. She's a woman who has run her collection of companies for so many years and done such a great job and then gave back to the community with the Face the World Foundation. It's fantastic to see the things that she does. For young women entering our industry: if you look to inspiring female leaders in the industry while trusting in your abilities, you will have great success.

But I have to say my biggest mentor was my boss at Bastion Development. He also didn't put limits on me. He pushed me to achieve every day and put challenges in front of me every single day. Because he had the trust in me and that dedication to helping me learn, I wanted to achieve for him as well. Together we had goals that we, once again, shouldn’t have been able to achieve when you’re a small twenty person company. We were successfully going toe to toe with bigger companies like Cressey Development Group and Ledingham McAllister because he allowed his staff to work hard and achieve as much as we could, while supporting us as we did it. He never thought twice about the fact that I was a woman and I went from being his executive assistant to being his only vice president. 

You’ve had a very successful 30 year career, have you seen positive changes in the industry around inclusion of women and just in general, more women in the development industry? 

Absolutely. The industry has changed so much. A big part is that women have been preparing for these careers since the time they were in college. We're seeing way more women in the industry in terms of engineers, architects and more. I think that what I've seen is the industry balance. It’s gone from being a male-driven industry to an industry that is far more balanced. I think it's because the generation that's coming in and getting involved simply doesn't think about things the same way that men used to think about the industry. Men and women are coming into the same level of job and then working their way up at the same pace. For example, at Conwest at least 50% of our employees are women and 75% of the managers are women. The industry has switched up quite a bit. Another big part is that I think that the industry recognized a long time ago that women are the primary buyers of homes and should be involved with the product that we are delivering. So if you don't have that female perspective internally providing insight, you're not going to be developing a product that appeals to your customers.