Olga Olejniczak: Rising Development Star & Advocate for Women in Real Estate

3/29/2021
“What makes Opus stand out as a company and as an employer is truly special – it's a mix of our expertise and values, but most importantly our people," said Olga Olejniczak, Manager of Real Estate Development.

“Our one-team model of development, design and construction experts working side-by-side on projects from beginning to end is not common within the industry. Our culture is authentic and collaborative. We rally around the same goal – our client's success. Another valuable aspect of the Opus team is the company's support of workplace diversity, especially as it relates to women."

Olga recently shared her experience and growth at Opus, and her story is unlike any other.

In 2016, Olga started at Opus as a Real Estate Development Coordinator, planning open houses and groundbreakings, creating content for business development and supporting the development team.

“Six months into the job, I was asked to provide some development support for a multifamily project," she said. “I had the opportunity to assist with design selection, manage a small budget and spend a good amount of time at the jobsite. Almost immediately, I knew I found my desired career path."

And she was a natural.

Olga was promoted to Real Estate Representative in 2017 and to her current role in 2020. She was the first person at Opus to move from a coordinator position to a development role, paving the way for others to follow.

Olga focuses on the development and lease-up of multifamily and student living buildings. She manages all aspects of development, including pursuits, due diligence and entitlements. She also coordinates with partners, property management companies and marketing firms.

Foundations in Construction and Marketing

Olga immigrated to the U.S. from Poland when she was four years old.


“My dad worked in construction," she said. “In the summers, he would take me along to job sites and supply yards. I asked questions about everything from framing to fixtures and was curious about how all of it worked."

These early experiences instilled in Olga a genuine interest in architecture and construction.

“When I was old enough to drive, I liked to drive around new neighborhoods and appreciate different types of architecture," she said.

“I didn't see myself going into construction and didn't have the technical interest in architecture," she said. “I wasn't sure how I could fit in and needed to decide on a college degree."

After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Michigan, Olga found herself gravitating toward marketing; she held marketing positions at startup companies and later a large law firm.

“It was interesting work but something was missing. Once clients were secured, I was no longer involved. I wanted more – to see tangible results of my work. But it was unclear to me what that looked like. I continued to feel uncertain about marketing, so did some serious soul searching. I realized my true passions were still within the realm of real estate, construction and architecture."

Shortly thereafter, Olga interviewed for the coordinator position at Opus. She was well-qualified for the job, and the industry matched with her interests. It wasn't long before she realized exactly where she was meant to be: actively working in real estate development. 

Dedication and Perseverance

“Olga began her career at Opus as a marketing coordinator and quickly proved she had an aptitude for the development side of the business," said Mike Yungerman, Senior Vice President & General Manager. “She dedicated herself to earning an MBA and becoming active in several industry organizations. Olga has become an integral part of the execution and operations management of our multifamily developments in Chicago and is now also working on student housing projects. She has deep passion for this industry and quickly gained the trust of our joint venture partners, property managers and many others."


“I've been given many opportunities at Opus," Olga said. “Exciting new challenges pushed me out of my comfort zone, and with persistence, I learned to trust myself and continued growing on a daily basis. I also found what was missing from my previous professional life – creating tangible products and spaces that become someone's home and part of the community. Now, instead of driving around looking at neighborhood homes, I find myself driving around and touring new multifamily developments!"

In 2020, Olga graduated with an MBA in Real Estate Finance and Investment from DePaul University's Kellstadt Graduate School of Business. She also became a Goldie Scholar and completed a mentorship program with the Goldie Initiative. She was named a Rising Star in Connect Media's Next Generation Awards, recognizing young individuals in commercial real estate who are likely to be influential for years to come.

“The real estate industry is still dominated by men," she said. “Which presents its own challenges; however, my experience at Opus has been nothing but supportive. Opus colleagues, including Mike Yungerman, have encouraged me every step of the way, creating a support system that has helped me succeed."

Olga is a board member and leads philanthropy efforts for the Real Estate Finance Forum. She also volunteers with the DePaul Real Estate Alumni Alliance, raising funds and supporting people who want to pursue careers in real estate.

In addition to her new puppy, Opie, Olga loves playing piano and guitar, adding to her vinyl collection and looking forward to crossing off many destinations from her bucket list in 2022.

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