Monday, April 2, 2012

Tulsa Women CEO's

When Sheryl Chinowth first came to Tulsa in 1996, she really just wanted to be an outstanding real estate agent, help clients and make sure they got the best possible service.

She never really envisioned becoming CEO of her own real estate agency.

Today, Chinowth with her husband, Lee Cohen, who is chief financial officer, oversees Chinowth & Cohen Realtors, which has about 330 licensed, full-time real estate agents and another 80 or so who are referral agents.

To get the business to that level has taken long hours and lots of work. In those first few years of starting the company, neither Chinowth nor her husband took a vacation or a day off work.

"To be a woman CEO and to start your own business, you have to understand you're going to be working 80 hours a week for the first four or five years ... You're not going to get a lot of sleep," Chinowth said. "To be an entrepreneur, you have to really have a strong drive. You have to have passion for the business that you're in and really, really enjoy it and just an extremely hard work ethic."

Looking back at it now, Chinowth jokingly said she wonders if she weren't a "little bit crazy." But she has no regrets. She loves people and real estate, and with the combination of the two, "it's been a great fit." "When your job is something that you enjoy doing every day, it's not work," she said.

She is glad to know that she and her husband helped achieve and build something that will last long after they are gone. If she were to do it all over again, Chinowth said she would have started the company 10 years earlier.

"I really do believe there are no limits. The only limits a person has in life are the limits they put on themselves. If you work hard, there aren't any limits." Women don't hear the term "glass ceiling" anymore like they did when she was growing up, although there are still a lot of men who own their own companies. The playing field is changing, however, and Chinowth sees a society that increasingly values individual talent, skills, knowledge and personal integrity. "Those are the things that will rise you above everyone else - whether you're male or female," she said.

By LAURIE WINSLOW World Staff Writer Published: 4/1/2012 2:26 AM Last Modified: 4/1/2012 5:20 AM

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