Women On The Move: 4 CRE Finance Execs On How They Reached The Top And What's On The Horizon

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'Your Voice Does Matter': Judy Guarino, Northeast Executive Director, Commercial Mortgage Lending

'Your Voice Does Matter': Judy Guarino, Northeast Executive Director, Commercial Mortgage Lending

Judy Guarino is the regional manager for Commercial Term Lending's Northeast Commercial Mortgage Lending group, responsible for executing the CML business strategy in the New York metropolitan area. She leads a team of bankers who provide term financing solutions from $1M to over $25M to real estate investors for the purchase or refinance of retail, mixed-use, industrial and office properties. Additionally, she remains heavily involved in and up to date on the state of the New York City real estate market and community.

Guarino is constantly looking for ways to improve the client experience. She is also deeply committed to developing and maintaining strong relationships with some of the largest real estate developers and investors in her home market of New York City.

As someone immersed in the world of lending for retail properties, where does the future of retail lie?

The retail landscape is changing, and New York is adapting. Whether it's restaurants, health and wellness centers, or experiential or concept stores, we have seen an increase in e-commerce complementing brick-and-mortar to provide a more personal draw to businesses and products. I'm continually inspired by the real estate investors and developers working with retailers who are bringing these innovative solutions to life.

What is one thing you would change about commercial real estate lending?

Simplify. We always take initiative to identify ways to streamline our processes and improve our client experiences. We recently introduced a process where we offer the mortgage closing to take place from the convenience of their homes, offices or a coffee shop if that’s their preference. It’s a never-ending journey to simplify processes for our clients, giving them more time to focus on their businesses.

How can we bring people of diverse backgrounds into CRE?

We have to be out in the markets. Wherever there is an opportunity for us to tell people about commercial real estate, whether it’s at a university or a career event, we need to share what we do. We need to continue to inspire and educate others about our industry regardless of gender, race or personal identity.

What does it take to be a successful woman in our industry? 

First and foremost, market knowledge. Know what is happening in the markets and submarkets you serve. Today, it's not only about the location. It's about the tenant experience and influences of technology.

Every day, learn from your clients and commercial real estate experts, read industry publications and stay engaged. Second, share your knowledge and thoughts with others in the industry. When you have an idea or valuable insight, speak up and share. Your voice does matter.

'Your Voice Does Matter': Judy Guarino, Northeast Executive Director, Commercial Mortgage Lending

What is one piece of advice you would give your younger self? 

Step outside of your comfort zone. Take actions that you would typically avoid due to fear of failure or fear of lack of knowledge. Overcome the uneasy emotion and take action.

What is one way you advocate for yourself and other women at work? 

I always look for opportunities to help others grow in their career. I share my experience and knowledge to mentor others and I’m constantly working on my own personal growth, whether it’s through listening to audiobooks or podcasts. I encourage others to do the same. By continuing to better yourself, you ultimately help your colleagues around you. 

I am very fortunate to work for an organization that embraces equality. Support and encouragement to drive inclusivity and diversity in our talent, project leadership, recognition and advancement programs will continue to strengthen the organization, its growth and success. We have so many business verticals at JPMorgan Chase that I learn an immense amount just from my colleagues. Women on the Move works to bring us all together for workshops, mentorship and networking.

How can programs like Women on the Move make a difference in women's careers?

Women on the Move inspired me to take initiative and develop a networking opportunity for women in commercial real estate. I am excited to connect like-minded women in the industry, including my colleagues, our clients and our community to network and support one another both personally and professionally, by sharing their experiences and encouraging each other to meet their goals and achieve success.

How would you define resiliency?

It's OK to fail. When your expectations fall short, learn from the experience and keep moving forward. Keep working to achieve your desired outcome. Don't hold yourself back and certainly do not give up. 

What do you feel is the largest challenge facing CRE?

There's an ongoing affordable housing crisis that's still facing the industry. There needs to be continued focus on solutions that address federal housing policy and investments both from [the] government and private sectors. 

I'm very proud of all the work that the firm is doing to address this issue, combining our Community Development Banking group's lending and business expertise with the firm's philanthropic efforts to help create and preserve affordable housing. Initiatives like AdvancingCities, which is a $500M, five-year initiative, encourage long-term economic growth in cities across the world. I'm very excited to see how the industry continues to work toward solutions and commitments that help communities close that affordable housing gap.