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SoCal Power Women: 5 Questions With Watt Cos.' Nadine Watt

This limited series profiles SoCal Power Women who have helped shape cities, neighborhoods, businesses and lifestyles in Los Angeles and Orange counties. These women will be honored at Bisnow's SoCal Power Women event Dec. 13. 

Since taking over her family's company in 2011, Nadine Watt has taken the Santa Monica-based Watt Cos. to another level. As president of the real estate company her grandfather, Ray, founded in 1947, Watt is not only continuing her family's legacy but expanding and growing it, too.

Over the past 70 years, Watt Cos. has developed residential homes for more than 100,000 families, developed 50 shopping centers and built 8M SF of industrial and office space, three hotels and more. 

Watt Cos. President Nadine Watt

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

Watt: I’m the president of our real estate family business, Watt Cos., where I oversee our daily operations of developing homes and shopping centers, building office spaces and acquisitions and dispositions of properties of all asset types. My job as the president is also to mentor young talents and especially young women who would like to get in this business.

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

Watt: In the real estate industry, particularly in development and acquisitions, there appear to be high barriers to entry for females unless you have a legacy opportunity like I did. As president, my goal has been to narrow that gap and build more bridges for talented young females. If I am not in the forefront of this issue, then I am continuing to add to the problem.

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

Watt: Companies should look at mentorships and internships as a way to cultivate young, talented individuals who might not otherwise consider a career in real estate. They need to woo the next generation. If more institutional owners don’t offer more flexible options as a whole, the industry loses talented women who can’t re-enter the workforce. Real estate has traditionally been more old-fashioned in that regard versus the tech industry, which provides much more flexibility. The industry needs to make a more concerted effort to make women more visible as keynotes and speakers and as board members.

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

Watt: I would probably tell them what my grandfather, Ray, told me when I first started to work for the family business: “Do your homework, work hard and be curious”.

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

Watt: I love to travel both abroad and at home and to discover new restaurants with my husband, Andrew, and two daughters, Keira and Reese. We spend a lot of time together laughing and enjoying each other’s company. 

Meet Watt Cos. President Nadine Watt at Bisnow’s SoCal Power Women event Dec. 13 at the LA Grand Hotel Downtown.