Pioneering Businesswoman Margaret Sedenquist Embraces ‘Disrupter’ Status, And Will Talk About That Today

Published : Wednesday, August 7, 2019 | 5:00 AM

Margaret Sedenquist grew up in Douglas, Wyoming and moved Westward in true pioneer spirit. That spirit propelled her to become one of the first powerful businesswomen in corporate California.

Sedenquist says she likes disrupting the status quo and she will speak about that at an open-to-the-public Rotary Club meeting Wednesday, Aug. 7 in a talk titled “A Champion Disrupter.”

Sedenquist is a commercial real estate broker and entrepreneur who has specialized in investment properties and 1031 exchanges. She was president of the Pasadena Board of Realtors. But her career path has not taken a typical route.

“I’ve always been a person who has disrupted the status quo,” she said. “Being a disrupter is a good thing, after all, if there were no ‘disrupters,’ how would we ever discover anything new?”

Among her many accomplishments, Sedenquist founded Mohawk Management Co. and Commercial Pacific Bank in Santa Cruz, Calif., and served as the bank’s board chair.

Along the way she has served as president and officer on organizations like Five Acres, The Pasadena Playhouse, All Saints Church and Methodist Hospital Foundation. She has served on the board of trustees of La Verne University since 2010. Sedenquist was president of the Pasadena Association of Realtors, the Society of Exchange Counselors, and the Los Angeles County Boards of Real Estate. She also served on the board of directors of the California Association of Realtors.

She often was the only woman among men in these overseeing positions.

“We were the only bank in the state that had a woman as a chair of the board,” Sedenquist said. “The people I worked with were cooperative and helpful and respectful. There were business competitors. In any organization there are helpful people and there are always going to be a few who are not helpful, but who pays attention to them anyway?”

Sedenquist grew up in a household where there were no limits placed on her because of her gender. She had high hopes for her career.

“I did not think there would be any reason for it not to be a success,” she said. “And it usually was a success.”

Sedenquist has left a lasting mark in real estate, many Pasadenans say.

“Pasadena Foothills Association of Realtors honored Margaret with the 2018 Distinguished Service Award for her community involvement with organizations such as Five Acres, Pasadena Playhouse and All Saints Church,” said Eddie Ramirez, President-Elect of PFAR. “Margaret’s work ethic and ingenuity exemplifies her commitment to the future of our industry and community.”

Did she have mentors?

“I don’t think so,” she said. “That’s because I was always doing something a little different.”

Sedenquist’s signature approach — coming from a place of honesty — has been a trademark, enabling her to achieve accomplishments others might not imagine.

For instance, because of her earnest ways, Sedenquist was able to work directly with fellow employees to develop a revolutionary corporate communication system at General Electric.

“I was a psychologist for the GE company,” she said. “I was the youngest and the only woman, and I did work that was useful and that people could use in their own businesses. They would trust it and they trusted me to do anything I wanted. As a result, I spent a lot of time on the factory floor.”

“I came from Wyoming – I had never even been in a factory,” she said. “But I had new points of view and developed a new communication system that had never been there before, that the Harvard Business School used. That’s because everyone trusted me and allowed me to do the research I wanted.”

She believes there is still room in the world for people who think a little differently.

“For anyone to be useful they have to be self-confident and creative and it has to be apparent that you really like the people you’re working with,” she said. “You can’t be successful if you’re disdainful of who you’re working with and how they behave.”

Another key ingredient is not to take “no” for an answer.

“The next thing is we’re all equal people and no one is going to stop you if you have a great idea you just have to be persistent,” she said.

She said it’s also important to be able to look ahead, and see an opportunity or chance for something new and then get other people interested.

“If you can see into the future and create a future people want to be a part of, that’s very important,” she said.

Sedenquist didn’t forget to take time to have a family. She has three children, sons, Mark and Daniel, and daughter Diana, who works with her at Mohawk Management.

She said it’s important to be true to one’s self and the key to getting ahead in life is maintaining integrity.

“I don’t know how you live without integrity,” she said. “One of the highest compliments is when someone says about you, ‘She is exactly what she appears to be. So one always has to live with one’s self.”

The public can join Rotarians today to hear Sedenquist. The meeting is open and no RSVP is required. The buffet lunch is $33, which includes complimentary valet parking.

The University Club Pasadena is located at 175 N. Oakland Avenue.

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