When Jamie Hadac got her start, the commercial real estate industry was a very different kind of business.
In the late ‘90s, women were constantly questioned. They didn’t have the same responsibilities they do today, and were even ostracized by some male brokers.
During her nearly 20-year career, Hadac herself has felt the constant demand to prove herself. But that still hasn’t stalled her success.
In April 2006, Hadac joined Foresite Realty Partners, a company that had just five employees, including her, at the time.
Eleven years later, Hadac is the firm’s executive vice president, responsible for business development and client relations for the company’s third-party asset management and its “properties-in-transition” services. Hadac is set to speak as a panelist at Real Estate Publishing Group’s 15th Annual Commercial Real Estate Forecast Conference on Jan. 18. Foresite today has more than 150 employees as it continues to diversify, largely because of Hadac’s efforts.
While there have been vast improvements in the commercial real estate space, differences remain between men and women, according to a 2015 study from the CREW Network and CBRE.
The study is conducted every five years, and compares data for signs of progression. Women still trail men in c-suite positions (17 percent of men versus 9 percent of women polled). The income gap between men and women is very much alive in commercial real estate, according to the study. In 2015, there was a 23.3 percent gap between the median salary of men in the industry, $150,000, and women in the industry, $115,000
After 19 years, Hadac has seen her fair share of tribulations. Coming out of college, she was questioned in an interview on why a man who had studied at Harvard and Columbia should sit down to interview her — a University of Delaware Blue Hen.
She simply said: “I’ve got great social skills.” He went on to hire Hadac.
Real estate wasn’t the end goal for Hadac when she went to college. She first studied criminal justice at the University of Delaware, but soon after realized there was no money in the industry. After a not-so-successful run at accounting, she switched over to finance during the second semester of her sophomore year.
In 1998, Hadac joined Prudential in the accounting department, but after a year switched to PCG Private Placements. Starting in 2001, Hadac served in Prudential’s Real Estate analyst program for three years.
In the mid-2000s, Hadac moved to Chicago, eventually discovering that there were few women working in the asset management industry, particularly in the Midwest.
The coasts were the then-hubs of asset management. Chicago and the greater Midwest had remained relatively secluded, and were, because of this, years behind in making even the slight progress that companies on the coasts had made.
And yet, Hadac prevailed – a woman from a state school had found her footing in what was then, largely a man’s game.
It was a matter of solidifying her credibility, she said, or “making them understand you know what you’re talking about.”
While the industry was relatively exclusive at the time, there were a variety of men and women who taught Hadac the ropes and how to succeed when she was getting started. When she came to Foresite, after a brief stint at a Chicago bank, Hadac had lunch with Elaine Hoffmann, now director of business development at Megalytics, who became a “wonderful mentor.”
Hadac still stands by one of the things Hoffmann told her: Pick five contacts that complement your business — an attorney, construction contractor or whomever — and build relationships with those five.
“She said the business referrals that come from those five relationships will far outweigh all the cold calls I would make in the long run,” Hadac said.
As she looks toward another year in commercial real estate, Hadac said one of her goals is to strengthen Foresite’s relationships with its clients, while also getting involved in the business development side. She said that she believes the firm will likely diversify its base a bit this year.
Hadac credits a large part of her success and passion in real estate to her love to socialize. But it’s her leadership skills and tenacity that have made her a top commercial real estate executive.
“You don’t always need to have the grades or where you came from to get to an (executive vice president) position,” Hadac said. “It’s based on hard work, perseverance, building great relationships and surrounding yourself with amazing people.”
Jamie Hadac is an executive vice president at Foresite Realty Partners, and is a featured panelist Real Estate Publishing Group’s 15th Annual Commercial Real Estate Forecast Conference.