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OC Power Women: 5 Questions With Steadfast REITs President Ella Shaw Neyland

This limited series profiles Orange County Power Women who have helped shape SoCal cities, neighborhoods, businesses and lifestyles. These women will be honored at Bisnow's Orange County Power Women event in Irvine on Aug. 21.

Throughout her four-decade career, action has always spoken louder than words for Steadfast REITs President Ella Shaw Neyland.

Neyland prides herself in leading by example and views being a woman as an advantage in the industry.

Steadfast REITs President Ella Shaw Neyland with her daughter, Nora, and granddaughter, Adeline

"I don't think I've had a gender barricade," Neyland said in a 2016 interview with InvestmentNews. "In fact, if anything, I think during my 40 years, I've actually had success because I was a woman. I think the fact that if you enjoy what you do, you work real hard, you work well with people and you're a woman, I think it gave me a little bit of an edge. ... I have a hard time saying it was a problem. I think it was an opportunity."

In her career, Neyland has served in executive roles for banks and senior-level positions for a medical office and affordable housing development company, and founded her own company before joining Steadfast. She has served as president of Steadfast REIT since 2012.

Neyland told InvestorNews she has a favorite saying from Coco Chanel: "Keep your heels, head and standards high."

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

Neyland: I work for a company that owns apartments. It is the most personal type of real estate because the people that live in Steadfast apartments think of them as their home. That makes how we treat them and take care of them very important to us.

Bisnow: What accomplishment are you most proud of in your career and how did you achieve it?

Neyland: The accomplishment that I am most proud of is how I have tried to motivate and help advance people that I work with, men and women. I think it is because I really enjoy people. I also think the tone is set at the top and the mood in the middle. [It] creates strong teams.

Bisnow: How have you seen companies change the way they address wage and gender inequality in recent years?

Neyland: I think the way that companies have addressed wage and gender inequality is first by recognizing that it happens. And then taking a proactive approach to resolving it. It also helps that for the last several years more women are getting four-year degrees than men, so they are increasing their presence in the workforce. We should call them "bachelorette" degrees. So we are moving in the right direction but slower than one would hope. 

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

Bisnow: My advice to people entering the industry is to find a career path that you love. Not just one you think will make you money. If you enjoy what you do, then your chances of success will be greater. After all, success is getting what you want. But in the end, happiness is wanting what you get.

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

Neyland: What do I do to unwind? I live in Southern California so naturally it is walking the dogs on the beach in the evening and then heading home for a glass of wine.

Meet Steadfast REITs President Ella Shaw Neyland at Bisnow's Orange County Power Women event Aug. 21 at the Irvine Marriott in Irvine.