What you picture yourself doing when you’re growing up isn’t always where you ultimately end up. Though some people do realize their childhood dreams, others wind up in a career they never could have imagined.
Jodi Gheaja, a Broker with Realty Executives Premier in Valparaiso, could say both. She’s spent part of her life living her dream, while the other part has been an exciting mix that has culminated in her new found love for helping people make one of the biggest decisions they’re likely to make in their life.
“I’m a little bit of an enigma,” Gheaja said. “I graduated from Purdue University Lafayette in Aviation and my background is that I was a pilot and a pilot instructor for Northwest Airlines. It’s a bit strange and everyone says, ‘Well what are you doing now?!’.”
“I started flying when I was 15. I graduated aviation school and was hired by Northwest to do test flying and I was a simulator and ground school instructor for them. I did that right out of college and I did it for many years, and it was fabulous and wonderful!”
Gheaja lived and was based in Minnesota while working for Northwest, now Delta Airlines, and then when she was in her late twenties her and her husband decided to start a family. “There was a lot involved but I decided to pursue motherhood,” Gheaja said. “Because of everything that was going on, I decided to leave the airlines and become a stay-at-home mom for many years.”
When Gheaja’s youngest child was old enough to start school she knew that she would need to find something to do with her time.
“I’m a very busy, driven individual so I thought that I needed something to do. I wanted something that also allowed me to be a mom still because if I was going to be gone all the time I could just go back to the airlines.”
“Everyone’s always said that I could talk to anyone and that I’m definitely a sales person. I love interior design so I started at Walter E. Smithe where I did some work in sales and design. That led to me working for a new home builder and I started in sales and new construction. I did that for several years and then decided to get my real estate license.”
Once Gheaja decided to go for her real estate license she went all in, and in a hurry! In the time leading up to her children’s summer break in 2015 she knew that once they were home her opportunity to focus entirely on getting that license would be limited by the hustle and bustle of the season.
Having been in the highly regulated, highly tested aviation industry, Gheaja was used to the type of work that went into starting and completing the real estate licensing process in a matter of weeks.
“I thought that I need to get this done before they’re home because once they are home life becomes a little more chaotic. So I had two weeks before they were out of school and I just studied online, took all the tests, and drove to Chicago and passed the test.”
Joining Realty Executives Premier has been a breath of fresh air for Gheaja compared to some of the other operations with which she has been a part.
“There is a gigantic difference here,” Gheaja said. “Mike (Tezak) is always doing whatever he can to back you up, he’s always there when you need him and he wants you to succeed. He wants us to do well because then the company does well and he gives us all the tools we need, and it’s been awesome. He and I sat down and with my background in new construction he was intrigued. We just kept talking and I loved the energy in the office. I came over here in January and it’s been a fantastic fit.”
“My client base has grown and I’ve been very, very busy since joining Realty Executives. Being new to this, the support is definitely here. They do all kinds of training which has been fantastic. It was the same way as the home builder. Working there made me love selling houses and this just allowed me go into all facets. I love the fact that everyone here works very hard but they also laugh hard so it’s very fun.”
“I absolutely love what I do and I love helping people. I definitely have a thing for sales but nothing is more rewarding because I love, love people! There’s no bigger purchase that people make than buying a home so when you get through that, and it’s a long process, you really get to know your clients and most of them become my friends. It’s the biggest investment of their lives. I want them to make a good investment and I want to help them do it correctly, and not just to get to the close.”
The day to day changes of the real estate industry is making Gheaja feel right at home. Everyday is something new and she’s meeting the challenges that she continuously encounters head-on.
“You learn something all the time because every client is different and every clients needs are different. Every home and the problems you encounter on different houses is different. Every negotiation and every realtor you encounter on the other side is always changing. It’s very interesting and very exciting.”