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Nadine Watt Takes Over As CEO Of Watt Cos., Becoming One Of Only A Few Women Overseeing CRE Empires

Nadine Watt is now the CEO of Watt Cos. 

The board of Watt Cos. appointed President Nadine Watt to CEO, replacing her father, J. Scott Watt, the company said Tuesday. Scott Watt will continue to serve as chairman of the Watt Cos. Board.

Watt Cos. President Nadine Watt
Watt Cos. President Nadine Watt

Nadine Watt, who has served as president since 2011, will now oversee her family's multibillion-dollar real estate empire, which began in 1947.

Today, Watt Cos. is one of the largest owners, developers and managers of commercial real estate in the western United States. The Santa Monica-based company oversees a multibillion-dollar portfolio in seven states and over 8M SF of office and industrial space, 2,400 multifamily units, 100,000 residential homes, six master-planned communities and 50 shopping centers. 

 “After 20 years with the firm, Nadine is much deserving of this promotion and ready to lead the company,” J. Scott Watt said in a statement. “Watt Cos. has benefited tremendously from Nadine’s leadership as president for the last nine years as our company has focused on acquisitions, development, and joint venture opportunities. We are confident that Nadine will do an excellent job carrying out the vision of my father and her grandfather, Ray Watt.”

With the promotion, Nadine Watt will be one of only a few women to lead a major commercial real estate firm.

"We believe that Nadine’s bold vision will take Watt Companies to new heights,” Watt Cos. board member Brian Jones said in a statement.

Bisnow caught up with Nadine Watt and asked her what this promotion means for her and her goals for the company.

Bisnow: What was your reaction when you were informed that you would be taking over as CEO of Watt Cos.?

Watt: I feel like I have been in training for this my whole life. While I initially chose a different direction, it was always in my blood. It is a big responsibility taking over the helm from my father, and bearing in mind the legacy of my grandfather, who founded the company over 70 years ago. These are some big shoes to fill, but I have worked hard learning the business and believe wholeheartedly that I am up to the challenge, which makes me extremely excited for 2020 and beyond.

Watt Cos. President Nadine Watt
Watt Cos. President Nadine Watt

Bisnow: What does this promotion mean for you personally?

Watt: This promotion is validation that the direction my life ended up taking was the best path for me. I had originally thought I was going to be in the entertainment industry, and the invitation from my father and grandfather to join our family business was the furthest thing from my mind. What I thought would be a temporary layover helped me discover a passion I didn’t even know I had, and I was fortunate enough to find my home.

Bisnow: What does this promotion mean for women in commercial real estate?

Watt: One of my goals/passions is to ensure that more women get involved in real estate. We continue to be underrepresented and I believe it is my job and responsibility to continue to promote, hire and mentor more women in this business.

Bisnow: What are your goals as CEO of Watt? How do you plan to distinguish yourself and move the company forward in the future?

Watt: I want to do well while doing good. I am passionate about the fact that not all Angelenos have access to affordable housing. We are going to make a big push this year and in the foreseeable future to invest in and develop more workforce and affordable housing for the missing middle.

Bisnow: Are you ready for this task?

Watt: My grandfather always told me to do my homework and my father always taught me to consult the experts. As the third generation with the benefit of the wisdom that came before me, I will try to do both. They never wanted me to feel like someone was taking advantage of me, so I try to be well-prepared and educated, while surrounding myself with an amazing team where five out of seven of my top executives are women.

CORRECTION, 1:50 P.M. PST: A previous version of this story misstated the number of multifamily units and hotels in the company's portfolio. This story has been updated.