New York Power Women 2018: KKR Director Julia Butler
Bisnow: What keeps you in commercial real estate and what makes you want to come to work each day?
Julia Butler: I currently finance owners and developers who are improving the physical landscape around us, from offices to hotels to residential projects that impact thousands of people every day. I love that in a small way, (by providing the capital) I get to be part of that impact. As for what makes me want to come to work every day, I work with an incredible team. It's a joy working with them, and I've had the fortune of working with wonderful developers and operators with real vision and talent as well.
Bisnow: Have you had mentors over your career? Who are they and what influence did they have?
Butler: I've been lucky to have had a few great mentors over the years, but Nina Matis at iStar tops the list. She showed me you can be strong and feminine at the same time. A litigator at heart, Nina is an impressive negotiator. Sharp as a guillotine, she's also petite with an awesome New York accent, a fantastic wardrobe and warm demeanor, so she disarms everyone and quickly gets what she needs because she's also fair and persuasive.
For those who don't play fair back, she has been known to crush them in court. Nina supported and believed in me when I needed it most. I will forever be grateful to her for that.
Bisnow: What's the one thing you would change about the industry and why?
Butler: I would get some more women to the top! A former boss and mentor recently told me that women don't often get to the top because they're "consensus builders," not decisive decision-makers.
While I understand leaders need to be strong, and it's hard to be perceived as such if you take time to reflect, it's been proven that female leaders generally drive better results. So how do we get there? We need to hire each other and provide more encouragement to those around us. Getting to the top requires hard work — there are no shortcuts — and since we're still fighting against unconscious bias, we need to work extra hard. My hope is that by the time my daughters are out of school, they won’t have to contend with this added challenge.