Susan McDonough may be a woman whose name appears first on just about every sign-up sheet she ever encountered, but she had to be coaxed into real estate.

Back in the late 1970s, McDonough was pursuing a master’s degree in social work and raising two young kids. But she also managed to find the time to volunteer for the PTA, the playground committee, and a citizens advisory committee for the town of Wellesley – and her own husband joked she was a becoming professional volunteer.

But efforts to give back caught the eye of a neighbor, who owned his own brokerage. After more than three years of hints and offers, she finally consented to give being an agent a try. “I kind of backed into real estate,” she says now.

Once in the industry, however, she quickly found it to her liking, treasuring the flexibility of an agents’ role and intellectual stimulation of getting deals done. After 33 years in the business, McDonough had worked with and for some of the industry’s biggest names, and ran her own brokerage before moving to a role as senior sales manager at William Raveis Real Estate, one that allows her to mentor young agents, one of her favorite parts of the job.

“There’s nothing about what we do that people don’t understand intellectually. But there are many ways to avoid obstacles and pitfalls where things can go wrong,” she said. “Helping people get the highest and best service makes all the difference in the world.”

Despite the changes to the industry, which have enabled consumers to access more information than ever before, “my personal point of view is that there’s always a need of an agent!” she said. “I can’t help having that perspective. But at all levels, you have to have a person that you trust. It’s a complex process, buying and selling a home. A knowledgeable agent can not only save you time, they can help facilitate a smoother transaction.”

Having a full-time real estate career still hasn’t dimmed her desire to both help and lead. As one of her nominators for a 2013 Women of FIRE Award, she’s a member of 10 different boards and organizations, and a huge participant in fundraising for breast cancer research and rescuing golden retrievers. Last but far from least, she’s currently serving as 2013 president of the Greater Boston Association of Realtors.

“Sue’s just a wonderful person,” said Greg Vasil, CEO of the Greater Boston Real Estate Board. “She’s always been willing to get involved, to mentor, to lead. We’re lucky to have her.”

After 33 years in the business, McDonough still gets up every morning filled with enthusiasm, knowing everyday will bring something a little different.

“Working with people to solve problems was where I started, with psychology and social work,” she said, “and believe me, I get to continue it on a daily basis.”

Susan McDonough

by Colleen M. Sullivan time to read: 2 min