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Denver Power Women: 5 Questions With Developer Celeste Tanner

This limited series profiles Power Women who have helped shape metro Denver's cities, neighborhoods, businesses and lifestyles. These women will be honored at Bisnow's Denver Power Women event on Dec. 5.

Before co-founding Confluent Development, Chief Development Officer Celeste Tanner was director of real estate development for Opus Development Co. and led the real estate project team for the company’s Denver office. She has played a key role in the ground-up development of more than 2.5M SF of commercial and multifamily space, including industrial facilities for Laboratory Corporation of America, University of Colorado Hospital and Sopris West Education Services.

Confluent Development Officer Celeste Tanner with her family

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

Tanner: In short, I ensure that Confluent Development secures significant and dynamic development opportunities and then successfully executes to deliver best-in-class development projects. My position as chief development officer requires a range of responsibilities to ensure the company continues its course for success. I play a role in all facets of the firm — identifying and securing new development opportunities and investors, managing the firm’s marketing efforts and keeping a focus on the day-to-day efforts as well as the long-term strategic planning. I lead and guide our project team to ensure Confluent Development’s values are maintained throughout the development process.

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

Tanner: Transitioning from my former position at The Opus Group to co-found Confluent Development was one of the biggest challenges I’ve faced. There are many risks in creating your own company and being personally attached to its success or failure. But my partner Marshall Burton and I focused on leading with an entrepreneurial spirit and true passion for our work. This drew significant benefit early on, as Confluent Development garnered interest from other development firms and merged with MVG Development after only one year. This combination effectively strengthened our team’s expertise, grew our service offerings and tripled our platform.

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

Tanner: First, companies should work to recognize and reward women who have families, as they do men. With many women as the primary or sole breadwinners, I am confident they are equally, if not more, motivated than their male counterparts to increase their success at work and better support their families. Second, we continue to see that companies with diverse leadership tend to experience more growth. The key to success, I think, is to align your team on a future vision by being informed from diverse backgrounds, which provides rich perspectives to generate new ideas and ensure you hit the mark.

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

Tanner: Build a strong team around you. I’ve been fortunate to have the support of leaders like Marshall Burton and John Shaw, both of whom have held a constant presence throughout my career. By building genuine relationships and loyalty with industry leaders, I’ve grown my knowledge base and expertise significantly. Simply having strong relationships creates multiple voices behind my efforts, and there is power in numbers. This is also important to remember while advancing in your career — to continue learning from those around you, senior and junior, in order to work collaboratively and achieve what will ultimately be a better solution. 

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

Tanner: I have learned over time that I am a very sensory person and finding ways to immerse myself in surroundings with vibrant sounds, sights, smells, etc., is impactful in helping me unwind. Whether that is going on a creekside hike with my family, spending some time on the trail as the wind blows through the trees, or simply curling up near a fireplace with a soft blanket and great old book, I can find my comfort zone pretty quickly.

Meet Confluent Development Chief Development Officer Celeste Tanner at Bisnow's Power Women event Dec. 5 in Denver.