Kadi Mancuso serves as Director of Marketing at Chicago-based Redwood Capital Group and Redwood Residential. She is responsible for developing strategic and tactical marketing plans, acting as a liaison between the corporate office, regional management and community teams to implement campaigns to drive traffic and occupancy to achieve optimum financial performance.
Prior to joining Redwood, Kadi served as Director of Marketing at CA Ventures Residential and as Marketing Manager for CMK Companies and Fifield Companies. Throughout her career, she has overseen more than 14,000 units across garden, mid-rise and high-rise asset types, with a focus on new development lease-ups in major markets.
Tell us about your background. Where did you grow up? Where did you go to school?
I was born and raised in Chicago and am the oldest of three siblings. I attended Indiana University, Bloomington, where I earned my Bachelor of Science in Public Affairs. I also studied abroad in Florence, Italy.
How did you get your start in the industry?
The beginning of my real estate career actually began in second grade. While selling Girl Scout cookies door to door, our neighbor said they didn’t have any cash for a purchase. Always looking to close a deal, I insisted we go to the 7-Eleven down the street where there was an ATM (after getting permission from my mother, of course). On the way there, it came up in conversation that their family was house hunting as they had outgrown their home. I suggested they look at our slightly larger home a few doors down since I had overheard my parents commenting that they too wanted more space for our growing family. Shortly after, their family put an offer on our home. Not only was I the top cookie seller that year, but I also “sold” our home in the process.
This early interest in real estate was strengthened by a weekend workshop hosted by CREW Chicago that provided hard-hat tours of up-and-coming projects. In college, I had the opportunity to intern on the property management team with Golub & Co in the iconic John Hancock Center and one of my first jobs after college was on-site lease-up marketing at Riverstone Residential (now Greystar) working on a new multifamily development in the then up-and-coming West Loop.
Coming from a real estate family, I was determined to carve my own path and focused on marketing. I did some creative agency work and took a role working for The Food Network. However, my success working on K2 Apartments for Fifield Companies solidified my calling for real estate and eventually led me to Redwood.
Did you have a mentor who helped you get on your feet, or is there someone you turn to now for support?
I am grateful to have a village of friends, family, peers and mentors from an array of industries that have been by my side throughout every phase of my journey. From a very young age, I was able to watch my mother, Teresa Mancuso, serve as a real estate executive, working with some of the top developers, owners and operations. She led by example, creating opportunities for women in a widely male-dominated industry and is someone I can always turn to for support. The foundation she laid taught me to seek out the female leaders pushing for change in the way business is conducted.
In my academic years, Professor Cheryl Hughes pushed me to think creatively in my Management Foundations and Approaches class. This class included a city planning final group project, with various economic changes announced throughout the course of the assignment. After spending time in her class, Professor Hughes hired me as an undergraduate teaching assistant, where she provided the opportunity for me to work hands on in mentoring students also studying in the School of Public and Environmental affairs at Indiana University. We still communicate frequently, and she has been one of my biggest professional advocates from before I stepped foot into the professional world.
I am fortunate to be surrounded by many successful CRE leaders, but there are a few that stand out as mentors in helping me get my footing in the industry. During my time as a leasing consultant, Melissa Moline Miller was launching inRentive and inspired me with her innovative approach to using proptech as a tool for leasing far before it was common practice. To this day, we have had opportunities to work together on deals and she always is available as a mentor and friend. Erin DiPaola Spears is another outstanding mentor that believed in me very early in my career. She inspired me to find my stride and honor my power both inside and out of the office.
Other stand-out mentors that I turn to for support are Pierre Melhado and Steve Boyack; they provide a refreshing perspective on how to better our industry and have always been willing to give me a seat at the table.
What does an average day at work look like?
In a world where our personal and professional lives are blurred, it is important to recognize our days start before we get to the office. With a fiancé in the Chicago Fire Department, we wake up anytime between 4:00 to 6:00 am to read “The Daily Stoic” together. Then I typically lace up for a workout and have a healthy breakfast before diving into work. These morning habits help me to be my best self in the office, ready to handle the ever-changing real estate landscape.
I’m lucky to work in an industry that offers new challenges and opportunities every day. I wear two hats, working at Redwood Capital Group and our property management company, Redwood Residential. My primary role is to act as a liaison between the corporate office, regional management and our community teams. This is in service to implementing marketing campaigns that drive traffic and occupancy, achieving optimum financial performance.
I achieve this through site-level and corporate marketing, holding weekly calls with regional management and ownership, cultivating internal marketing to further develop our corporate culture, visiting teams on site and attending conference to both represent Redwood and learn about new marketing technology and innovations.
What do you like most about your job?
Real estate is one of the most dynamic and creative industries. One of my favorite parts of the job is the ability to put my fingerprint on communities that have helped shape the Chicago skyline. As I grow in my career it has shifted to a more national portfolio and it is incredible to help build a literal and figurative community for our residents nationwide.
Looking to the future, what do you hope to achieve/work on that you have not already?
I hope to further cultivate an environment for the next generation of real estate professionals. I’ve had interns in the past and pushed them to make site visits to get a deeper understanding of commercial real estate and the variety of opportunities that are out there. I’d love to create a permanent internship position with a local university and get involved in mentoring those interested in learning about what’s possible in this industry.
How do you spend your time away from the office?
Outside of work, I enjoy traveling, running, entertaining and spending time with my family. I am Italian to my core, and we love to entertain at every opportunity we get. You can frequently find me building elaborate charcuterie boards and baking cakes for every occasion. This year in particular my fiancé and I are planning our wedding while also training for the Chicago Marathon.
I take great pride in participating in charitable causes. I have served on the executive board of Chicago Dance Marathon for nine years, supporting Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. I also devote a lot of my time to Lurie’s and American Cancer Society after hours with fundraisers and time with the kiddos. I am giving meaning to my miles in the 2022 Chicago Marathon by co-captaining a DetermiNation team for American Cancer Society and volunteering as pacer for Chicago Endurance Sports to help others train for various half and full marathons.