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Chicago Power Women: 5 Questions With Carolyn Salzer

This limited series profiles Power Women who have helped shape cities, neighborhoods, businesses and lifestyles in the cities where they work. These women will be honored at Bisnow's Chicago Power Women event Dec. 4.

There are few, if any, markets more exciting as a microcosm of the nation's industrial landscape than Chicago. The 1.2B SF region is both one of the largest and fastest growing, and so are the trends now transforming the sector, whether it's the expansion of e-commerce, or the growth of cold storage, are happening there on a grand scale.

Carolyn Salzer until recently led Cushman & Wakefield's industrial research team for Chicago, used that experience to secure a promotion to director and head of industrial research, Americas. She now oversees reporting, statistics and forecasting for 79 markets.     

Carolyn Salzer and Jason Tolliver

The rising star credits a corporate culture at Cushman & Wakefield that supports and nurtures the careers of women. Salzer now aims to play her own role in further developing that supportive environment, and help pave the way for others.  

Bisnow: What drew you to a career in real estate?

Salzer: It was another “power woman” who gave me my start. Barb Schenberg recommended that I apply for the local Chicago industrial research role. I was a psychology major in college and thought my data/analytics skills could translate to research. When I got the role, I ended up really loving it. The industrial team at Cushman & Wakefield is the best in this business. They really took the time to teach me about the industry so I could grow and add value to the team. 

Bisnow: How has the treatment of women in the industry changed since your career began?

Salzer: It is getting better every day. Many more women in powerful positions, and women being supported by their male co-workers. I have been extremely lucky at Cushman & Wakefield to have bosses, mentors and colleagues that have been especially supportive of me and my career. I rarely have run into situations where my gender has come into play.

Bisnow: Who are your role models and why?

Salzer: My mom is probably my biggest role model in my life. She is the first “power woman” I saw in action. My entire life she was super mom. She had a full-time job running her own executive recruiting firm, got three kids to all sports practices, was on different charity boards, our school booster board, volunteered to chaperone fields trips, and still got dinner on the table every night. I have absolutely no idea how she was able to balance her successful career, personal life and our lives and not go insane. But she has taught me that with hard work you really can do both, be a power woman and have a family. That’s what I want to emulate.

Bisnow: What was your greatest professional mistake, and what did you learn from it?

Salzer: I make mistakes every day, and I always strive to learn from them. I’ve learned to look at mistakes as learning opportunities — not failures. And I truthfully try to just never make the same mistake twice. Luckily, I work with colleagues who encourage me and others to take risks and try new things. Mistakes are a natural part of that process.

Bisnow: What are the most important things women just starting careers need to know?

Salzer: Advocate for and value yourself, speak up when you need help, ask questions, don’t be afraid to share your ideas. Make yourself heard. Even if your idea isn’t picked, or the question you ask feels “dumb” and you are embarrassed, do it anyway. Trying to better yourself and your career is never something that should sit in the background. You are important, show everyone else.  

Advocate for and empower others, empower all other people around you, not just women. Supporting you team, a co-worker or a friend when they need help, guidance or just someone to bounce ideas off of is important. Not only will it build your network or give you new ideas, it will give you a support system that will help you down the road.

See Carolyn Salzer and other women shaping real estate at Chicago's Power Women event Dec. 4.