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My Story: Connie Engel

My Story: Connie Engel

Twenty-eight years, two firms, one boss and one bobblehead later, Childress Klein's  Connie Engel is still running strong.

Connie at KSU - July 2010 -dc 1977—841
Connie's name is synonymous with the Cumberland/Galleria office submarket, where Childress Klein has staked much of its claim. But she almost didn't enter the biz. "I had been working for IBM for 10 years, and I made the  strategic decision that I wanted to work in commercial real estate. And I always wanted to build stuff," she says. Through a friend who worked at Trammell Crow, Connie interviewed with the firm's offices in Phoenix, San Diego, and Atlanta (she was living in Minneapolis).
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That's when she met Don Childress. Needless to say, Trammell Crow—like many firms of that era—was focused on hiring MBA Ivy Leaguers who were "guys generally," Connie says. " I wasn't a guy, I didn't have an MBA, and I had to convince them that my 10 years at IBM was as good as an MBA." Connie says convincing Don to take a chance on her took "a little bit of tenacity." So, she called him at home one night during dinner. Connie says she got Don's wife and convinced her the call was important enough to interrupt Don. In the end, Don told her if she was tenacious enough to convince his wife to drag him from dinner, she'd be tenacious enough to get him deals. And she was hired.
Connie recalls her first deal, Crawford Investment Council, which is still her client in the Galleria complex. Most recently, Connie helped renew Travelport at Galleria 300, a deal that prompted Childress Klein to  put the tower on the market (read the latest news we broke about it here). She says her long-time relationship with Don is built upon "a great deal of mutual respect. He really let me go and didn't micromanage me at all, which I love."
Connie's love for marketing (what she did at IBM) led her to some creative ideas to drum up brand awareness. Nearly 10 years ago, she amused the industry when she released a line of her own bobbleheads. "That was one of the most fun things I've ever done." In fact, she  got a "10" on the idea from one of the legends of commercial real estate marketing, Newmark Grubb Knight Frank's Brett Hunsaker. "Coming from Mr. Schmooze, that told me it was a success," she says. Connie has been president of NAIOP and CREW, and is currently the chair of the Kennesaw State University Foundation and wants to become involved in other corporate board work. But not replacing commercial real estate: "I love the business. I love getting up and going to work every day. I love the game of wanting to  win every deal. I don't like losing deals."