2018 Women of Influence Honoree: Kim Bakey
Kim Bakey leads the largest real estate firm in Iowa, but she is just as comfortable watching a girl’s softball game from hard bleachers as she is working in a corporate office.
Two years ago, Bakey was named CEO of HomeServices of Iowa Cos., parent of Iowa Realty Co. Inc., and a subsidiary of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc.
When Bakey was named CEO of HomeServices and Brennan Buckley was named president of Iowa Realty, it marked the first time that a member of the Knapp family was not at the head of the operation.
More history is in order. Central Life Assurance Co., where Bakey worked in the non-insurance side, bought Iowa Realty in the early 1980s. Bakey was assigned to oversee its accounts. In 1994, she went to work for the real estate firm and made the financial details work out when it was sold to MidAmerican Energy Co. in 1998. A year later, Berkshire Hathaway bought the utility and its real estate company.
With the dealmakers out front, Bakey’s work in the background did not go unnoticed. In 2010, she was named the Business Record CFO of the Year. In 2016 and 2017, she was named one of the most powerful people in residential real estate by a trade publication.
It’s a safe bet that her presence wasn’t going unnoticed at Valley High School softball games and other sporting events. Her husband, Tom, is in his 21st year as head softball coach. He has been with the school for 23 years. That coaching duty combined with raising three daughters meant a lot of time spent at sporting and school events.
“There was a time in my life where raising the three kids and both of us juggling what we wanted professionally was the focus and when my second one got to college, I said, ‘OK, it’s time for me to do other things,’” Bakey said. “I’m done working in all of the concession stands, and running kids around to tournaments and sitting in bleachers — well, I’m not done with that yet.
“That time passes, but you never think it will.”
Bakey said her message as a parent was, “I have told them all along, go out, pursue whatever you love, and whatever you want, but make sure at the end of the day you are taking care of you and it’s what you want to do.”
She made a shift from concession stands to community organizations, starting with the West Des Moines Community Schools Student Scholarship Program. She has been on the board of Blank Children’s Hospital since 2011 and is serving as the chairperson for 2018. She has been the company liaison with Blank Children’s Hospital Festival of Tree and Lights since 2006 and was Iowa Realty’s link to the Make-A-Wish Jolly Holiday Lights from 2000 to 2008.
“Without a doubt, Blank Children’s and the kids and families we serve are better because of Kim’s dedication and support to making a difference,” Steve Stephenson, Blank president, said in a letter.
For Bakey, it all comes down to a willingness — lack of fear, some might say — in taking on a challenge.
“I probably love a challenge,” she said. “I love learning new things, figuring out how they can work, and how I can contribute to that and pull it together.”
Buckley puts it this way, “She’s truly a woman of influence every day of the week, every week of the year.”
Areas of Influence:
- She leads a multifaceted real estate firm that includes residential and commercial real estate brokerages, lending, insurance, title and escrow work.
- At Blank Children’s Hospital, she helped guide the completion of a $14 million capital campaign for emergency and intensive care services, a search and selection process for senior leadership and the expansion of outpatient services.