Pam Bardhi ’13 knows firsthand the gender bias prevalent in the sharp-elbowed world of real estate development. But instead of being intimidated, she’s emboldened.

“It’s a source of empowerment for me,” she says, “because you’re constantly challenged to bring your A game.” 

Yet for Bardhi, it’s more than just the thrill of winning in a challenging environment. It’s the knowledge that she is expanding upon the important work other women have done in leveling the playing field in her industry. “What the world expected was, ‘Oh, she’s not going to make it in this industry. Construction? No. Real estate development? No. Building? No.’ The doubt I face actually drives me even more because I get to show other women, ‘Hey, if I can do it, you can absolutely rock it, too.’”

A serial entrepreneur with a suite of Boston-based companies, she credits Stonehill College with helping build and strengthen that desire to help others rise as she rises.

“Stonehill was absolutely a transformative experience for me. I learned all about leadership, connecting and compassion,” says Bardhi, who immigrated from Albania with her family at age 5. “Here, we’re taught to look out for one another. Stonehill enabled me to become a compassionate leader and to build the relationships that got me to where I am today.”

Her secret? In part, she credits the fact that she has seen herself as an entrepreneur since age 10, when she began working at her parents’ West Roxbury restaurant. She also credits the encouragement she received at Stonehill as she transitioned from a marketing major to a communication major, eventually adding a major in entrepreneurship that she created through the College’s Interdisciplinary Studies Program.

“When you’re 18 years old and you’re coming into school and not knowing what you want to be for the rest of your life, you start to try different things,” she says. “My professors and advisors were able to adapt throughout every phase of my journey. They empowered me.”

But most importantly, she says, her secret to success is grounded in a realization that she wasn’t going to be happy if her life and career were all about money. She needs to know her work benefits others and creates value that cannot be measured in a ledger.

“It’s not just how much money am I making on a deal,” she says. “At the end of the day, it’s ‘how can I help this person achieve their goals?’ I speak to people with respect. I see what’s important to them. And if my interests align with that, then we make something happen.”

Despite her success, she hasn’t forgotten that feeling of being an underdog, and it has inspired her to take on other ventures. In addition to preparing to enter the apparel industry, she will soon be hosting her own TV show, “Underdog.” [You can see a trailer here.]

In each case, her brand is aligned with a value at the heart of the Stonehill experience: Define success by your impact on others.

“Yes, be a leader,” she says. “Yes, be successful. Yes, do all of that. But do it compassionately and empower people along the way.”



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