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Bisnow Honors Los Angeles Power Women: Part 3

Los Angeles

Today we bring you the third installment in our 10-part series highlighting some of the top leaders in SoCal commercial real estate. Bisnow's Los Angeles Power Women recognizes 50 influential players in the industry. We'll bring you profiles on each of these women (read Part 1 and Part 2) and then honor them Oct. 11 at a special awards reception.

Sonnet Hui, Executive Project Director, Shenzhen Hazens


Born and raised in Hong Kong, Sonnet Hui learned from an early age that life is a creative enterprise shaped by how we choose to respond to challenges and opportunities. This translated to her career in real estate development, a field she enjoys because it enables her to facilitate social dialogue and collaboration, navigate complexity, and harness diversity to help design and build more innovative, responsible and sustainable social structures for the future. Sonnet loves her career, because she is able to apply the knowledge of the built world from her USC degree in architecture and utilize her business sense and cross-cultural skills in an entrepreneurial and challenging way. The key to success, she says, comes in three parts: visualizing success, staying hungry and creative, and finding new ways to get inspired and to inspire others. The sometimes counterintuitive and convoluted city approval process can be difficult to navigate, Sonnet tells us, but she sees it as a matter of collaboratively finding solutions. She's in constant pursuit of the balance between work and life, making a point to spend time with her children and to exercise, eat well and practice mindfulness to stay healthy. She is pictured here as a member of a real estate panel at USC.

Clare DeBriere, EVP and COO, The Ratkovich Co


The desire to inspire people through building is what first led The Ratkovich Co EVP and COO Clare DeBriere to commercial real estate. While taking a history of architecture class as a UCLA undergrad, she learned cities and architecture "could be inspiring as well as oppressive and collaborative as well as segregating." After working for an architectural firm for a year, she took a job at Ratkovich and has never looked back. Her career has been filled with many "proud moments," including standing in the new lobby of 5900 Wilshire and walking through the sycamore cathedral at the Hercules Campus, she says. However, she says her biggest joy has involved the people she works with, citing "the joy of promoting an employee who started with our company" as an example. She says the industry has its challenges, among them NIMBYs that have made the process of developing real estate increasingly difficult. When she's not working, she enjoys visiting restaurants with her husband, a chef, and traveling the world. She's seen here (left) with her sister, Michelle De Briere Doherty, on top of the Empire State Building.

Jodi Meade, Principal and National Director of Automotive Properties Group, Avison Young


Avison Young principal and Automotive Properties Group national director Jodi Meade's mother inspired her to choose her career path and learn the business. Jodi says her mother, Norma J. Meade, was a trailblazer who founded a commercial real estate company in Beverly Hills in the 1980s that developed regional shopping centers across the US. Since then, Jodi has forged her own path, creating the only nationally recognized, woman-led automotive properties group within the world’s largest commercial real estate company, CBRE, in 2004. When she joined Avison Young two years ago, Jodi launched the firm's Automotive Properties Group. Recruiting professionals that “reflect our diversity of clients” is an ongoing challenge, she says. “It is also important to create work environments that accommodate the different generations represented in the workforce today. Jodi says “finding the key to bridging the talents each generation possesses is the difference between a good company and a great one.” Women, in particular, should not give up on pursuing what they really want; you must to see it to be it, Jodi says. In her spare time, she enjoys snow-skiing, continual advancement of her second degree black belt in TaeKwon Do, surfing, golf and wine collecting.

Tina Arambulo, National Director of US Industrial Research, Cushman & Wakefield


Tina Arambulo started her career in commercial real estate as an analyst in the San Fernando Valley. During her interview, she was drawn to the real estate brokerage’s fast-paced, laser-focused environment, never looking back once she found her niche in real estate research. She says she has been fortunate to be able to work with an incredible group of people every day and to become a valued resource for them and their clients. One of Tina’s greatest achievements was building Trammell Crow’s SoCal research department from the ground up. A talent shortage, she says, is one of the biggest challenges facing the future of the industry; there won’t be enough well-trained young professionals to replace senior leaders. Keeping up with the latest and greatest technology is essential to maintaining a competitive edge, she tells us. Tina and her husband, George, are avid world travelers, discovering new places and trying new restaurants at every opportunity.

Kimberly Roberts Stepp, Multifamily Investments Principal, Stepp Commercial


Stepp Commercial multifamily investments principal Kimberly Stepp (pictured with her husband, Robert Stepp, and their three children) was working in the entertainment industry when she decided to make a change. After obtaining her real estate license, she landed at Charles Dunn Co. The company president introduced her to her mentor, who taught her the business, which she says made a big impact on her career success. One of the things she most enjoys about her job is “helping improve someone’s overall investment position." Kimberly was especially pleased when she worked with an 80-year-old retired broker "who sold her portfolio with me at a 3% cap rate and we exchanged her and her heir’s equity into an 7.5% cap NNN investment." Some key challenges in her business today include the lack of available inventory and current strict 1031 exchange guidelines that make exchange situations difficult for investors. She is hopeful more women will choose to enter the commercial brokerage industry and believes now is a great time, because "the opportunities are endless, and advantages are plenty for women." Finding a great mentor is a must, she says. In her personal life, she says she enjoys spending time with her husband and three young children and "traveling as often as possible."