Houston Power Women: Meet Transwestern Executive Managing Director Jan Sparks
Bisnow's first-ever Houston Power Women event is this week! In the lead-up to the big day, we'll be highlighting the event's honorees. The next honoree is Transwestern Executive Managing Director Jan Sparks.
Sparks was a founding member of Transwestern's Structured Finance team. With more than 25 years of experience in real estate financing, she has helped structure and finance billions of dollars of deals around the United States and her hometown Houston. Her prior work in government securities and public accounting has given her varied expertise in all aspects of a business.
Bisnow: Who was the first person to teach you how to be business savvy?
Sparks: My father was a wonderful teacher in the art of being business savvy. He lost his mother when he was 9 and left home before he graduated from high school. He put himself through school on his own, and then went on to build a successful business that he ran for 40 years until he passed away in 1987. His foundation was honesty, preparation, hard work and fortitude. He taught me authenticity, respect for all people regardless of their position in life, to always have a sense of purpose and to never lose faith.
Bisnow: What is the biggest challenge for the next generation of women?
Sparks: The next generation of women will have an advantage because of the determination and dedication of the current women and the women preceding them. Even with this distinct advantage, they will need to stand tall and not be allowed to be pushed aside. They must move forward with confidence, authenticity, integrity and humility. They must make their presence known as a leader and ensure their voice is heard.
Bisnow: What do you think is the most significant barrier to female leadership?
Sparks: Women as female leaders need to stand out and be noticed. Women are held to a higher standard than men, and I do not see this changing in the near future. Development of your own personal presence and identifying and establishing your brand to accentuate your strengths and talents is key to female leadership success.
Bisnow: What is one characteristic that you believe every leader should possess?
Sparks: Honesty is by far the single most important characteristic every leader should possess. Honesty with clients, employees and, most importantly, honesty with themselves.
Bisnow: What are the most important decisions you make as a leader of your organization?
Sparks: The most important decision I make within our Structured Finance Group at Transwestern is how to spend our time. We arrange debt and equity for our clients nationally for virtually every real estate asset class. Our time, our people and our assets need to be orchestrated to assure that we provide exemplary service to our clients and for our company.