Volunteer Profile: Tanya Saari

In the back of her mind, Tanya Saari always knew she was cut out to be a real estate agent. But the road to get there took much longer than she expected.

When she began her career, Tanya worked for CIBC as a personal banker and a sales assistant. But after working there for 10 years, she decided it wasn’t for her. Why? Well, it just wasn’t personal enough, she said. 

“I just knew that wasn’t something that was career oriented, because it wasn’t a career for me. For me, working at the bank was more sales-driven rather than people-driven, and I much prefer to put people first rather than sales.

“At the bank, I always felt like I had a number to achieve for sales, and reaching that number was my main goal. And, I think in that case, building a relationship with clients came second because achieving that number was priority #1.”

This was a big step for Tanya. She realized that working with other people was what gave her that “spark” in life. 

After making this discovery, she opened a fitness studio in Barrie, a very people-oriented job. 

But after sustaining a serious injury, Tanya realized that she could no longer work full-time in the fitness industry. It was a heartbreaking realization for Tanya, but it had with a silver lining: it swung the door wide open for her to pursue a career in real estate.

“It first hit me when we had moved to British Columbia years before. As we were hunting for a house, I just thought ‘This is what I want to do with my life; I want to sell real estate.’” 

For Tanya, the real estate industry promised something more people-driven. “[In the real estate business], you build relationships with your clients and your main goal is to make sure they’re happy and getting what they want, and once that’s achieved, then the business and numbers come into play. But it’s always secondary to ensuring the customer is satisfied.” 

But, knowing the demands of a real estate career, she held off at the time. “Having three young kids, I knew I wouldn’t be able to give it my all if I had to juggle between the kids and a career. So, I decided to wait until my kids were old enough so that I would be able to do it on a full time basis.”

So, years later after the kids had grown a little, she signed a contract with Century 21 BJ Roth Realty Ltd. Thus, Tanya began her career as a fulltime real estate agent and she has never looked back.  

“It’s building those relationships with customers and the community that I find so fulfilling,” she said. 

Speaking of community, Tanya is something of a role-model for community involvement. She serves as the Volunteer Coordinator for Redwood Park Communities, is a Chair Member on the Parent Council at St. Joseph’s High School, is the Vice Chair for the Barrie Association of Volunteer Administrators, and, last but certainly not least, volunteers on the Membership Committee at the Barrie Chamber of Commerce. Talk about an extensive resume for volunteering in the community! 

Zeroing in on her involvement with the Chamber, Tanya said that she first looked into becoming a member when she started her real estate business.  

“That was when I started to think, ‘Okay, what really is the Chamber and what will it do for me?’ So then I started to investigate the benefits of being a member and everything.” 

And for Tanya, it was the potential for networking within the Barrie community that caught her attention. 

“I was really attracted to the networking opportunities offered by the Chamber, and the reason for this was not so much to drive my business as it was to make connections with other businesses so that I would be a full-service realtor for my customers.” 

You may have heard of full-service gas stations or auto shops, but what does a full-service realtor do? Tanya explained. 

“For instance, if one of my clients said, ‘I need a plumber!’, then I would have a plumber relationship at the chamber that I could refer to them. Or if someone needed an electrician, I could refer an electrician I had met through the chamber, and so on and so on. So that’s what was most important to me. I didn’t join the chamber, so that I could meet chamber members would use me as a realtor; I joined the chamber so that I could connect clients of mine with other chamber members to support local businesses.”

But apart from being a member, Tanya also saw the value of volunteering on the Chamber Board of Directors. “I always feel it’s important to give back,” she said. “And I also thought volunteering would give me the chance to build better relationships with other members. When you’re volunteering, you place yourself in a committee, so it’s a much smaller, much more intimate group.”  

And, like many other members have already said, Tanya can’t wait to get back to in-person Chamber events like the BA5s and Chamber Breakfasts. Patience, people, they’re returning very soon!

When asked what her hobbies were, Tanya modestly replied, “Well, I’m a bit of a politics junkie.” 

Tanya is not new to politics. In the 2018 Barrie municipal election, she ran for the City Council, and in 2019 she ran in a by-election as well. Not too shabby for an occupation she only pursues on the side. 

But as far as casual hobbies go, Tanya likes to keep it simple. “I like to be a closet reality TV watcher when I can,” she said with a chuckle. “You know, it helps me turn off my mind for a bit and relax when I watch some horrible reality TV.” Oh, we know, Tanya; we’ve all been there, *winky face.* 

Tanya also enjoys reading, exercising – especially Zumba –, and, instead of travelling for vacations, she prefers staying at home with family. Travelling has never had much of an appeal for Tanya, which, she jokes, has been a convenient temperament to have throughout Covid. She feels sorry for her friends who love to travel, yet can’t at the moment, but as for herself, she’s content right here. 

“Travelling restrictions?” She said dryly. “They don’t bother me much because I don’t travel anyway, so it’s no big deal.” 

And, because of her cheery disposition and community service, I don’t think anybody in the local area is complaining about that. We’ll keep you right here, Tanya Saari, thank-you-very-much.   

Written by: Peter Wilson

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