In 1984, I was obsessed with the idea of becoming a commercial real estate appraiser.
Back then, there were no graduate programs for commercial real estate, and no female mentors. The only way to
learn the business was to talk an appraiser into mentoring me and sponsoring me for annual Appraisal Institute classes.
So I did what all new college graduates with Russian History degrees did back then – I talked to anyone who would listen to find an introduction to the industry I wanted to work in.
I landed my first job in commercial real estate when my college tutor convinced her husband, an MAI real estate appraiser, to hire me as his assistant. I made $2.50/hour, the whopping sum of $400 a month before taxes.
I didn’t care that minimum wage was $3.35/hour then, and that I would be living below the poverty line. I had just negotiated my dream job: In exchange for being Frank’s assistant, he would teach me how to appraise commercial real estate, an industry controlled by men with very high barriers to entry. Jackpot!
The Art Of Conversation
A lot of things have changed since I talked my way into that first dream job, but a lot of things are the same.
I have been working in commercial real estate for over 33 years, and the biggest investment I’ve made is educating myself. Early on, I started working to master the art of conversation, realizing the value of being able to have frank, honest and intentional conversations. This is always a work in progress, but it pays off every day.
Commercial real estate is still an industry dominated by men, but credit goes to the leaders in our industry who have made the effort to build diversity awareness and support the growth of women in their firms.
CBRE, for instance, was one of the first global real estate transaction firms to create their own in-house women’s network. From the beginning, they focused on providing a foundation for the women at CBRE to enhance their careers while promoting a culture that is collaborative and keenly focused on success for everyone. They now have over 3,000 professional women around the world.
What Women Bring To The Table
It is a great time for women to be in commercial real estate.
Women continue to advance in asset and facilities management, brokerage sales and leasing and various professional services. We finally have a critical mass of women in the C-suite and women running their own companies. We have women in leadership positions around the world who are more than happy to pay it forward and mentor the women coming up behind us.
Several of us who write about leadership in our industry agree that women come to the table with innate advantages. Being aware of these talents and learning to leverage them will help you continue to develop your professionalism and create value for your company. These traits include:
- The intuitive way we build relationships, resulting in trust between parties
- Our ability to build consensus among groups that sometimes have competing goals
- The ease with which we assemble and lead collaborative teams working toward specific results
- Our tendency to listen and ask questions, making sure we hear and understand
- Our instinct to mentor junior team members, giving credit where credit is due
3 Tips For Success In Commercial Real Estate
How can you invest in yourself to stand out even more from the crowd? Here are some suggestions:
- Gain the confidence to speak up, present your case and hold your ground when challenged. It can be daunting to make your voice heard, but some great mentor coaching and practice will get you there.
- Teach yourself to be intentional in your conversations. The best way to do this is to identify your end goal, then work backward to map out your conversation to get the results you want.
- Jump at opportunities! It is proven that men will take a job whether they think they are qualified or not, whereas women tend to pass judgment on themselves and decline opportunities to grow when they think they’re unqualified.
The rewards of working in the commercial real estate industry are boundless. New technology continues to level the playing field between men and women. Service providers are working to deliver global, sophisticated solutions for their clients’ real estate needs. And the commission on a real estate transaction is the same, no matter the gender of the brokers.
Women have more opportunities than ever to become a part of this fascinating and rewarding industry. Real estate is a finite resource that needs the brightest minds to be the best stewards of its use.
Discover how to unlock secret savings from your commercial real estate portfolio. Schedule a free consultation with the property tax savings experts at RPTA today to learn how much you could save.