MidwestCRE For women in CRE, progress can’t stop because of clouds on the horizon Matt Baker May 14, 2020 Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on LinkedIn Share via email Yesterday, REjournals hosted a national webinar acknowledging five of the nation’s top female leaders in CRE. The extended discussion dove into numerous topics—from what they are telling their mentees during the pandemic to the challenges they have faced and overcome in the quest for equal recognition. Hundreds of real estate professionals from all over the country tuned in. The high number of viewers wouldn’t have been possible without support from SIOR and from CREW Network and its various chapters in Baltimore, Charlotte, Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Detroit, Fort Lauderdale, Fort Worth, Iowa, Kansas City, Las Vegas, Lehigh Valley, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, Portland, Raleigh, St. Louis, Washington D.C. and Wisconsin. Working through the pandemic Sue Matejcak, Partner, Quarles & Brady LLP and President of the CREW Chicago Chapter, moderated the webinar. She opened the discussion by asking her peers how they are keeping their best foot forward and staying productive during such a stressful, turbulent time. Carolyn Pianin, Senior Vice President in the New York office of Arcturus Group, said that she is grateful to still be employed, that she’s able to work from home and that she and her family are healthy. This perspective was crystalized for her as she worked with many of her clients. “While we are helping landlords negotiate with their lenders, helping tenants negotiate with their landlords, helping hospitality firms look at their bottom line and try to figure out how to better manage the operational side, we are also very conscious that our clients are struggling,” Pianin said. “If you’re busy during this time, you have to be mindful of other people that are struggling.” Echoing this sentiment, Deborah Quok, Managing Director at San Francisco-based SVN | QAV & Associates, believes that now more than ever, it’s important to communicate with clients, to understand their needs and to show steady leadership. Now is also the time to gather as much information as possible. “I’m sharpening my tool set with the webinars and all of the information that is available,” Quok said. “My CREW friends in law, accounting, asset management and facilities management are doing their level best to keep me sharp with the information that is coming into my inbox. I’m taking advantage of all of that because my colleagues and my clients want to have confidence that we’ll be ready to bounce back together.” Leadership lessons There’s no more important trait in business than good leadership. The quality of a leader—good or bad—is only magnified during tumultuous times, such as those we find ourselves in now. As companies try to chart their course through the uncertainty brough on by the pandemic, the firms that end up succeeding will be those with strong leaders who are capable of not only earning their employees’ trust, but conveying a strong vision. “It’s important to know where you are right now, but I think a good leader is also looking to where they want to be,” said Matejcak, “You can’t steer the ship unless you know where you’re going.” The panelists all agreed that leadership begins with surrounding oneself with people that are helpful, honest and transparent. Communication and empathy are keys as well. Those companies that withstood past economic downturns and come out stronger on the other side were those that focused on taking care of their employees. Personal brand Commercial real estate is a people business, built on relationships. The best way to build up those relationships is to cultivate the image that others in the industry have of you. This was particularly true for women in CRE for years and continues to be to this day. “If I go into a room, I want the people to remember me when I walk out of the room,” said Goldie B. Wolfe Miller, the Founder/Chair of The Goldie Initiative as well as President, Millbrook Corporate Real Estate Services, based in Buffalo Grove, Illinois. As Miller is approaching 50 years in CRE, she started out in an era when women had an even harder time getting traction in the industry. “If I did the work, I wanted to make the presentation. Unfortunately, that didn’t always happen,” Miller said. “So, I would ask questions during the presentation. The point is, if I was in a meeting, I wanted to be heard.” It’s not just about having a strong personality and being willing to go after what you want. The key to a personal brand is knowing oneself—something that, according to Mandi Wedin, who serves as CEO of FEROCE Real Estate Advisors LLC in Washington, D.C., many people struggle with. “I think understanding your personal brand is important and it provides you with a lot of self-awareness,” said Wedin. “For people out there listening, if you don’t know what your personal brand is, go ask people. Many will answer you right off the cuff and for some people it’ll take a second, but they’ll still answer you.” These titans of real estate had tons of great advice during the hour-and-a-half discussion, including words of wisdom for young professionals, what they wish they knew when they were starting out and the best ways to advance the roles of women in the industry. Did you miss this webinar, or do you want to rewatch it? It and all of our past webinars are online at our YouTube channel. If you did miss it, don’t let that happen again; you can view upcoming events and register on our website.