5 Questions For Philly's Power Woman: U3 Advisors' Jaime Flaherty
Philadelphia's academic, research and medical institutions, collectively known as the Eds and Meds, are generally agreed to be the economic backbone of the city, so if their real estate needs grow, so does Philly's potential. U3 Advisors counsels institutions in how to manage their real estate responsibly so that physical growth doesn't come at the cost of what makes those institutions appealing to potential students and employees.
As U3 managing director and chief financial officer, Jaime Flaherty runs her firm's internal operations as it provides real estate advisory services for clients as diverse as the University of Pretoria in South Africa to Drexel University in her hometown. With Drexel playing a major role in one of the most prolific growth engines in the city, Flaherty's leadership role more than qualifies her as a Power Woman.
We asked Flaherty and other speakers for Bisnow's Philly Power Women event Oct. 30 at The Rittenhouse Hotel five questions to get a sense of the many different ways one can be a Power Woman. Here are Flaherty's answers.
Bisnow: If you could teach women growing in the industry today just one thing, what would it be?
Flaherty: Trust your instincts; that nagging little voice in your head is there for a reason. As I have matured in my career, it has become easier and easier to act on those instincts in a way that was intimidating when I first started out.
However, I have found that finding how to relate to different personalities, acting with humility, truly listening to people and finding common ground builds character, reputation and trust. That lays the foundation for feeling comfortable to act.
Bisnow: What is your biggest career failure and what positive lessons did it teach you?
Flaherty: When I was just starting out in consulting, I had a big pitch to make to a client that I had worked for months on. As soon as a particular portion of the analysis came up, I realized I had a made a huge mistake with the data. He was not happy and the meeting came to a halt, but I told him that I knew exactly where I went wrong and I’d have it back to him before he got on the plane that evening.
I worked furiously to fix all of the models and slides and shot the deck back to him. His reply has stuck with me: He graciously thanked me for all of the work, apologized for his reaction and expressed how appreciative he was that I owned up to my mistake instead of hiding behind it or making excuses. That experience taught me a few things: Humans make mistakes, follow up when you say you will, be willing to admit wrongdoing and always check your work!
Bisnow: What accomplishment are you most proud of in your career and how did you achieve it?
Flaherty: I’m most proud of leading the merger of our startup consulting firm with a complementary firm in NYC and subsequently creating the structure for collaborative growth. We have evolved from a blended 12-person firm to nearly double the size in five years.
Our client base has expanded across the country and we have made some amazing strategic hires to lead our many engagements. In many ways, we are still a growing firm, and my priorities and management style are constantly reflecting this growth. While much of this effort was trial by fire, I made sure to stay focused, organized and honest while surrounding myself with great people along the way.
Bisnow: How have you seen companies change the way they address wage and gender inequality in recent years?
Flaherty: I have seen a much more intentional focus to hire, promote and celebrate women’s achievements than a decade ago. I think the rise of the dual-income family, shared responsibilities and national awareness of gender inequities have started to change trajectories.
While it feels that we are closing the gap in many ways in the corporate world, there is still a significant amount of progress to be made in other industries and job types. Stay vocal.
Bisnow: What is your favorite part of working in the Philly market, and what is the thing about other markets/another one in particular that you envy most?
Flaherty: As a native Philadelphian, I love the gritty commitment to the city from its residents and workers. Philly is authentic and the recent years have proven that there is serious momentum around collaboration, innovation and bigger thinking than in the past.
CORRECTION, OCT. 30, 7:30 A.M. ET: A previous version of this article used out-of-date information on Flaherty's position at U3 and her ongoing projects. This article has been updated.