Power Women: Susan Gwin Burks
CASE Commercial Real Estate Partners senior director Susan Gwin Burks agrees with the legendary Steve Jobs: "The only way to do great work is to love what you do." (That's why our other job is making balloon animals.) The investment sales guru takes this mantra to heart. Her current project: a 317k SF disposition portfolio, which includes a historic landmark property in Fort Worth, a municipal complex in North Richland Hills, and several office complexes in the metro area in conjunction with diverse land projects. Susan tells us that one of her biggest professional highlights was being the first woman to earn the NTCAR Stemmons Service Award in 2000, a goal she set early in her career."It was confirmation that my peers truly see the value in what I do for my clients," she says. "It was also a reminder to never give up on your goals, as well as to build a great team where every member adds value for the client."
Susan didn't start off in real estate. After graduating from Stephen F Austin University, she landed first at IBM, where she learned the valuable lesson of overcoming objections: A 'no' was one step closer to a 'yes' (just don't tell your kids that). After becoming restless and wanting a "sky is the limit" career path, she discovered the tenant rep arena. Shortly thereafter, she joined her then-husband, Terry Gwin, whose firm was solely in land sales, and formed an office division which grew to become a formidable competitor in the marketplace. She was working for herself when CB Commercial asked her to take on a marketing director role in '94. Over the years, she's worked in tenant rep, corporate services, and ultimately investment sales. She's pictured with the women she worked with at Terry Gwin & Associates; they still get together monthly to share business opportunities and support each other.
Her largest assignment involved putting together a team at The Staubach Co to develop the RadioShack campus in Fort Worth. Whenever she wins a deal, it's a defining moment, she says.Â "When you have been given the nod by the client, thus earning their trust to drive value and accomplish their goals, it confirms hard work and perseverance pays off," she tells us; if you're not motivated by the things on your calendar that day, then you're not going to do a good job. Susan tells us there is nothing more gratifying than a client who turns to her at the end of the day and tells her "I couldn't have done this without your help." Here's Susan with her husband, Tom.
Susan (here with son in Colorado) says the lessons she learned are now passed on when she mentors real estate newbies: stay true to your core, be balanced, add value, and make sure you are providing the highest level of service to your clients. She revels in her player-coach role and having a hand in helping others further their careers. Most industry-seeking newcomers tend to be discouraged; they've had a lot of no's, she says. Her advice: If you really want to enter the industry, there will be a place for you, so keep trying. Nothing in life is easy. You get out what you put in. There are no dumb questions. Ask for help.
Susan calls these boys the joys of her life. She merged families when she married Tom, and Taylor (left) came into the life of Susan and her son, Levi (now 8), whom she adopted when she was 49. Now, the avid Rangers fan plays baseball or soccer with her son almost every night. As a mom, you figure out where your priorities are, she says. For Susan, it's faith, family, and then career. Motherhood hasn't changed the results she generates on the job, she tells us. "I take advantage of the flexibility in the real estate workplace today through technology and teamwork," she says.