Cover Story

Troika is synonymous with corporate success and the design and development of sustainable communities. But, what do we know about the Okanagan woman who founded and leads Troika, the woman who came to Kelowna in 1997, loved it and stayed?

Persistent passion!

Renee Wasylyk is inspirational and a trend setter. She says: "Young women need to find their inner passion and allow it to drive them to succeed." Her recommended reading is by Brigid Schulte: "Overwhelmed: Work, love and play when no one has the time."

Now in her early forties, Renee Wasylyk is welcoming and elegant, exuding warmth and confidence. Seated in her board room surrounded by trophies including the 2015 BC Influential Women in Business Award and Entrepreneur of the Year Award, we enjoyed a relaxed chat about life, love, relationships, raising kids, spirituality, finding one's inner passion to succeed … and making cupcakes at 3 am for a school!

Renee found her passion at a young age. With vision and a plan, she entered the male dominated industry of property development. Back then, being a woman, she was once asked to find a co-signer for a loan and although “Women have made progress, we must change the social norms." Women executives still do 80% of housework and child-rearing. So, why do women side-step themselves? There is incongruence between ambition and their choices. Renee encourages young women she mentors to go beyond where they are at, to find and use their inner passion. "And overlook your gender! In the board room, I forget I have boobs; I am there because I have brains and I earned my seat at the table. Sometimes, I do look through a different lens and think how a decision might affect my relationships. Sometimes this makes the men uncomfortable. My decisions are based on my values."

Renee wants an egalitarian society in which being partners at home means an equal sharing of household and family responsibilities. In practice, she supports true equality at work and has instilled corporate values: Team-based, Reputable, Innovative, Bold and Excellent (TRIBE). All employees benefit from options like flexible work hours and the ability to take parental leave. She is convinced that relationship building is a major key to success.

Renee plans to incorporate her values into her new political career as she has decided to run for the Conservative Nomination for MP in the Kelowna - Lake Country riding.

She looks forward to the day when women are not asked what they sacrificed to succeed. To her, it is a privilege to care for her family while also managing her company. "Luckily, I need quality sleep not quantity!" She could work at home after her kids went to sleep and still be raring to go in the morning. The daughter of a Baptist Minister, she is spiritual. Meditation refreshes her whether it be through conversation, reflection, reading, or at a sculpting seminar in Mexico. She advocates holistic coaching and believes that in the end "Love Wins" (Rob Bell.)

Three years ago, she and partner Carlos Alentejano blended their families of four boys and a girl now ranging in age from 16 to 22. Renee and Carlos sometimes just sit back, spectate and enjoy the lively conversation and laughter. "My children have always been my number one priority." Renee has always chosen to find wonderful 'home managers', who took care of running her house. This enabled her to focus on her kids as soon as she got home. This practice continues today, though she and Carlos both like to take turns to cook dinner.

But in the early days, it wasn't all sophistication! Smiling, she remembers rushing from work to a parent/teacher interview. Smartly dressed, babe in car carrier, daughter 2 in hand and kindergarten son in tow, they arrived late. When her daughter turned green – Renee, not seeing even a garbage can, grabbed her designer skirt and used it as a puke bucket!! On another occasion, writing on the white board during a presentation to twenty men, she felt her skirt slip down below her thighs. To this day, she is not sure just how much she revealed, but without missing a beat she pulled up the skirt, re-zipped and carried on! Nobody in the room said a word during or after!

Carlos is her love and her best friend. I ask what he would tell us that nobody else knows. Renee answers: "That I am very feminine; he knows my softness and my vulnerability. He brings all that out in me while others know me in my corporate and philanthropic roles." She wants her two boys, Damek and Mikhail, and her daughter, Zovya to be champion, cheerleader, lover and friend in their personal relationships;

Champion to defend their partner

Cheerleader to be encouraging on the sideline

Lover to be playful, respectful and safe

Friend so each is comfortable in being their true self W

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