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5 Questions With Atlanta's CRE Power Women, Part 1

Atlanta

If you look around Atlanta's burgeoning skyline, chances are a woman's hand was involved.

According to a recent Commercial Real Estate Women Network study, women now occupy more executive roles in commercial real estate, and are more satisfied with their career, than ever before. But the journey for women in a male-dominated industry is not an easy one, as Bisnow highlighted earlier this year.

This month, Bisnow will be honoring a host of Atlanta Power Women who have blazed their own trails at the Grand Hyatt in Buckhead. These women have earned distinction in some facet of commercial real estate, whether multifamily or office or behind the scenes in law or design. We asked five questions to some of our power women about the industry, their views of women's roles in it and what they do when they're not working.

Tribridge Residential Principal Katherine Mosley

Tribridge Residential
Tribridge Residential principal Katherine Mosley

Bisnow: How do you describe your job to people who are not in the industry?  

Katherine Mosley: I develop multifamily and mixed-use communities throughout the Southeast. I do everything from site acquisition to entitlements, production of architectural and engineer drawings, governmental approvals, oversight of the general contractor and partnering with the property management team during the lease up. Every day presents a unique set of challenges that must be managed all while balancing a critical schedule, sensitive budget and multiple stakeholders.

Bisnow: What is the biggest business problem you have faced and how did you solve it?  

Mosley: Development is inherently risky and as such, it is the unknowns that always present the biggest challenge. Adaptability is the key to surviving in an ever-changing market. From unexpected, job-related problems to personnel changes and managing a budget, being able to plan for the unknown and to be nimble enough to change when needed is critical. 

An example of a type of problem I face is encountering an unknown site contaminate during site excavation. Prior to commencing construction, extensive testing is conducted to best evaluate the conditions, but sometimes there are surprises. 

An unanticipated site contaminate quickly brings construction activities to a halt. At this point it is all hands on deck to work with all consultants and stakeholders to determine the most prudent remediation while adjusting for associated budget and timing delays. 

Adaptability is the key to finding success in projects that can change on a dime and also in the ever-changing market as a whole. 

Bisnow: What is one thing you think companies can do to address wage and gender inequality?

Mosley: In order to address wage and gender inequality, companies need awareness of the value and unique skill sets that women bring to the roles they fill. 

When skills like multitasking, collaboration, relationship management and finding balance in a specific project are embraced, then the inequality gap lessens and greater successes are attained.   

Bisnow: What piece of advice do you give others entering the industry? 

Mosley: Success and excellence start with embracing the seemingly mundane. Do not be afraid to start at the bottom, learn everything you can about each given task and let the knowledge empower you. Allow yourself to become increasingly assertive, as appropriate, as your opinions are based in the mastery of foundational information.

Bisnow: What do you do to unwind when you’re not working?  

Mosley: Decorate! I love anything that energizes my creative side. I recently finished wallpapering my dining room!

Westside Future Fund Executive Vice President and Managing Director Cheryl Thomas Strickland 

Executive Vice President & Managing Director-Real Estate 
Westside Future Fund
Westside Future Fund Executive Vice President and Managing Director Cheryl Strickland

Bisnow: How do you describe your job to people who are not in the industry?

Cheryl Strickland: I lead real estate activities for a 501(c)3 focused on redeveloping four of Atlanta’s historic Westside neighborhoods in a way that preserves significant affordable housing and ultimately leads to a vibrant and sustainable mixed-income community. 

Bisnow: What is the biggest business problem you have faced and how did you solve it?

Strickland: At a startup, there’s no track record and everything’s being done for the first time. As a result, obtaining stakeholder buy-in is critical and requires patient, engaged, collaborative planning.

Bisnow: What is one thing you think companies can do to address wage and gender inequality?

Strickland: Gosh, it’s 2018 and we’re still having this discussion. The solve requires the commitment of the corner office and a diverse board.

Bisnow: What piece of advice do you give others entering the industry? 

Strickland: Commercial real estate is so broad and dynamic, it may not matter whether your first job is your “passion." Use every opportunity to learn and contribute. Over time, that should lead to more roles for which one’s talents and interests are best suited.

Bisnow: What do you do to unwind when you’re not working? 

Strickland: Hanging out with my first and last husband. Walking in my neighborhood park. And I’m always in the middle of a book or two. 

JLL Senior Vice President Kay Younglove

JLL Senior Vice President
JLL Senior Vice President Kay Younglove and her family

Bisnow: How do you describe your job to people who are not in the industry?  

Kay Younglove: I lease office buildings.

Bisnow: What is the biggest business problem you have faced and how did you solve it? 

Younglove: Having a listing contract canceled in the middle of 580K SF of lease deals due to a disagreement my employer had with the client over a development deal in another city. I incorporated a new company, K.Younglove Inc., assumed the contract, negotiated a better share of fees and then leased 26 floors of space for the client, all while remaining an SVP of my employer, Prentiss Properties.

Bisnow: What is one thing you think companies can do to address wage and gender inequality?

Younglove: Hire talented, capable women, then give them opportunities to learn, to earn and to lead, equal to their male counterparts. 

Bisnow: What piece of advice do you give others entering the industry?  

Younglove: If you lack tenacity and an ability to persevere, you need not apply.

Bisnow: What do you do to unwind when you’re not working?  

Younglove: Escape regularly for weekends on Seed Lake in the North Georgia mountains, where we have no WiFi or cell service.  

Colliers International Atlanta Partner Jodi Selvey

SVP
Colliers International
Colliers International partner Jodi Selvey

Bisnow: How do you describe your job to people who are not in the industry?  

Jodi Selvey: This is a relationship-oriented business. You must like to meet new people every day. Also, because there is no one watching you daily and giving you a specific job to do, you must be very self-motivated to get up each morning no matter if you lost a deal or made a deal the day before and go to it again.

Bisnow: What is the biggest business problem you have faced and how did you solve it?  

Selvey: When I was younger and new in the business, people did not always think I had the chops to take care of their real estate. I overcame that with a strong work ethic and showed them through past experience how I could add value. I always let my work speak for me.

Bisnow: What is one thing you think companies can do to address wage and gender inequality? 

Selvey: This is a tough one because what I do is solely commissioned, so there is no wage or gender inequality as you eat what you kill. That being said, it is always challenging to be the only woman pitching for business in what is still a good ole boy network. I think it is going to become more important to have brokerage teams look more like their clients. When an all-male team pitches a diverse company, the goals are not aligned.    

For the salaried positions, I believe that companies should to do an audit every couple years and compare job tasks versus compensation to make sure there is no wage inequality, whether intentional or not. I do feel women have not been taught how to speak up and ask for more money if they believe they are being unfairly compensated.   

Bisnow: What piece of advice do you give others entering the industry?  

Selvey: I think anyone, male or female, that is looking for a career that is fun, can utilize their natural skill set in sales, is not afraid of working hard and looking for each day to be different this could be the career for them. This business is not for [the] faint of heart or those that cannot take rejection but the rewards can be great. 

Bisnow: What do you do to unwind when you’re not working? 

Selvey: When I’m not working I like to spend time at our lake house relaxing with family and friends, although my husband would tell you I never relax. I also like to decorate and renovate our home and have helped some friends renovate and decorate their homes.

CBRE Senior Vice President Anne Cone

Ann Cone
SVP
CBRE
CBRE Senior Vice President Anne Cone and her children

Bisnow: How do you describe your job to people who are not in the industry?

Anne Cone: For years, I would say I work in multifamily finance, and then I realized that people outside the commercial real estate industry didn’t understand what “multifamily” is. Now, I say I provide construction, acquisition and refinance loans for apartment buildings and people seem to understand that much better!

Bisnow: What is the biggest business problem you have faced and how did you solve it?

Cone: Previously, I worked for a company that had a large contract with the federal government. We were selected as the top consultant for oversight of a very large project managing our peer consultants. I didn’t anticipate the difficulty of leading the team that had not been selected and wanted to see us fail.

Building consensus within the team and assuring them we were all working toward the same goal, I set up processes where each one was accountable to the others and had input into the entire process. At the end of the contract, we produced better results in a quicker time frame for the client. The lesson for me was, “Through adversity, you gain strength.” 

Bisnow: What is one thing you think companies can do to address wage and gender inequality?

Cone: With diversity and inclusion comes a greater return on a company’s bottom line. Knowing this, companies should state their commitment to wage and gender parity, and as part of their corporate responsibility, should follow up with annual pay and gender parity reporting. Tying bonus incentives to the achievement of gender and wage equity goals is another way to focus on outcomes.

When deciding to make a career change, women routinely check for gender parity, so this would be a great recruiting tool for companies who put a priority on achieving wage and gender parity results. 

Bisnow: What piece of advice do you give others entering the industry?

Cone: Stay current with your industry through trade organizations. They not only provide education and networking, but are also a great source of visibility throughout your career.

CREW Atlanta has been that catalyst for me, and has been invaluable in making connections for long-term business. As an added bonus, some of my best friends have come from a shared connection in CREW! 

Bisnow: What do you do to unwind when you’re not working?

Cone: I love to travel! Growing up, my family traveled extensively, and now I have passed that wanderlust legacy on to my children, Shelby and Evan. Our next trip is planned for Chile with a visit to Santiago, Valparaiso and the Andes mountains. I can’t wait!

Juneau Construction Co. CEO Nancy Juneau

Nancy Juneau
CEO
Juneau Construction Company
Juneau Construction Co. CEO Nancy Juneau

Bisnow: How do you describe your job to people who are not in the industry? 

Nancy Juneau: As the CEO of a $250M construction company, I split my time overseeing the following departments: business development/marketing, HR, risk and finance. Also, I am the project executive (providing high-level support) over a handful of our projects, which I enjoy very much. 

Bisnow: What is the biggest business problem you have faced and how did you solve it? 

Juneau: The biggest business problem I have faced so far has been beginning to work through succession planning. This involves identifying the next generation of Juneau leaders, getting their buy-in, getting them the tools to support their growth, and hiring a consultant to work with through the next five to seven years and beginning to let go. 

Bisnow: What is one thing you think companies can do to address wage and gender inequality? 

Juneau: One way to address wage and gender equality is to pay and promote people what they are worth based on their performance regardless of age or gender. Additionally, we intentionally look at the gender equality at Juneau. We also track and review pay comparisons for men and women in each job, tracking performance and promotions. 

Bisnow: What piece of advice do you give others entering the industry? 

Juneau: Construction is a great industry to be entering; pay is high, the industry is growing and demand is still high while trying to replace workers lost in 2010-2013.

Bisnow: What do you do to unwind when you’re not working? 

Juneau: Watch UGA football, run and spend time at the beach.

Caddis Healthcare Real Estate Development Director Christine Gorham

Christine Gorham
Director
CADDIS Healthcare Real Estate
Caddis Healthcare Real Estate Development Director Christine Gorham

Bisnow: How do you describe your job to people who are not in the industry?

Christine Gorham: I am responsible for growing Caddis by:

  • Finding development opportunities with hospitals or physician groups who want to build new properties.
  • Finding medical building investment opportunities — especially those that aren’t widely marketed by large firms.
  • Finding opportunities to property manage medical properties for other owners.

Bisnow: What is the biggest business problem you have faced and how did you solve it?

Gorham: Caddis is, in modern healthcare, a top 10 healthcare developer in the country, but we are not really known here in this eastern part of the country. So my efforts are to meet healthcare decision makers and let them know that we are looking to grow, we are highly experienced in this industry, and have a very provider-centric culture and have the ability to bring capital to projects to get things kicked off right away.

Bisnow: What is one thing you think companies can do to address wage and gender inequality?

Gorham: Be intentional. Actually take the first step by looking at your organization and determining what your makeup really is — not what you think it feels like. Then take steps to make adjustments to even the playing field (which doesn’t mean making poor business decisions by checking boxes!). 

Going forward, be strategic about who you hire and be fair about compensation based on position, ignoring gender. When you hire a female ask yourself, “Is this the same amount I’d be offering if it were a male with the same qualifications?” and be honest. Studies show that companies with diverse gender leadership have better ROIs, cash flows, better strategic plans, less debt and achieve better bottom lines. 

Bisnow: What piece of advice do you give others entering the industry?

Gorham: Do your research and network like crazy. The more information, resources and contacts you have, the better prepared you will be to consider opportunities and options from several perspectives. 

Bisnow: What do you do to unwind when you’re not working?

Gorham: I love time spent laughing with my family and friends — I especially love having my three boys all in one place! We love time at our place at Lake Oconee, which does a great job of making us unplug. If not at our son’s baseball games, we are attending or at least watching Clemson football games. Go Tigers!

Hear more from Gorham, Younglove, Juneau and a host of other Atlanta commercial real estate movers and shakers at Atlanta Power Women, 7:30 a.m., Thursday, Nov. 29, at the Grand Hyatt Atlanta in Buckhead.