Twelve years ago, when a friend told her about a job opening at Kum & Go LC, Niki DePhillips saw an opportunity.

That job was administrative assistant. Now, DePhillips is the youngest female executive in the convenience store chain’s history and one of the few in the industry. With a degree in marketing and her eye on retail management, commercial real estate wasn’t on DePhillips’ radar at first.

“I was never exposed to real estate,” DePhillips said. “In college, I had my mom review my apartment leases before I signed them. I never even bothered to read them.”

A year into her tenure at Kum & Go, DePhillips was named a real estate manager, and things changed.

“I fell in love (with real estate),” she said. “It’s very tangible. What I love is seeing a piece of dirt. It may be nothing and it may need redevelopment at first, but it’s seeing the finished product and knowing I played a part in this new environment.”

DePhillips has quickly moved through the Kum & Go ranks. She credits her mother with setting an example she could look up to.

“She was a working mom. She did the mom thing, but she was gone and traveled a lot as a business executive,” DePhillips said. “She told me I could be president someday, and it was motivational, but not in the way it is when parents just say that. The presidency isn’t something that interests me, but she still says that. I think she always wanted me to believe in myself and the possibilities of females advancing in their careers.”

She also credits her mentor, Kum & Go CEO Kyle Krause, who saw promise in her and helped create a plan for her to reach her goal to be part of senior management.

Other than real estate, DePhillips is most passionate about people. Working in real estate, she meets people from all walks of life, she said, and it drives her desire to better serve them. 

“That’s customer service,” DePhillips said, “and that’s what we do.”

Reasons she’s a Forty:

• Chairs Couture for a Cause, a benefit for Children’s Cancer Connection
• Recipient of the 2012 Industry Impact Award from the Iowa Commercial Real Estate Association
• Volunteers on the United Way of Central Iowa retail committee
• Served as vice president of the Certified Commercial Investment Member Institute’s Iowa chapter
• Co-chair of the Iowa Expo Committee, a former member of the city of Clive Budget Committee and a member of Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW) Iowa