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Pamela Kershaw: Great Time to Be in Oakland

If you do any business with the Port of Oakland, you know Pamela Kershaw. The director of commercial real estate has been at the port for the past 16 years and manages a portfolio of more than 100 tenant agreements that generate about $14M for the port each year. Bisnow caught up with Pamela this week and she told us how the next few years will be dynamic for both the city and the port.


Pamela (here at Bisnow's Oakland event in June) tells us now is the time for Oakland and its port to shine, noting how commercial investment is starting to return after the chilling effect of the recession. Properties include Jack London Square, the Oak-to-Ninth District, the Embarcadero Cove area and properties in the Oakland Airport Business Park.  

In the next two to three years, growth will continue to push the Bay Area forward, and she expects cities well-situated with easy access to transportation, housing and job centers will fare the best. The Bay Area is benefiting from growing interest in development, making it a great time to be in the industry, she says. 

Before working with the port, Pamela worked in public planning and redevelopment, and she says the post provided invaluable experience, especially in dealing with regulations, permits and other aspects of working with a government entity. And with companies trying to develop projects on publicly owned land, she says the biggest challenge can be helping others to navigate through all of it. She calls finishing the process of a successful transaction or project "a small miracle."

During her years with the port, Pamela has seen projects succeed and fail, and each is a learning experience. She says it's exciting to watch how Jack London Square has developed; the transformation of Brooklyn Basin into a new neighborhood and retail space; and the private investment going into the Oakland Airport Business Park. All of it leads to more jobs and development in Oakland, she tells us.

Pamela was recognized as one of the San Francisco Business Times' Most Influential Women in Bay Area Business. In an industry that still has relatively few women, Pamela says it's important to do excellent work every day, yet remember to laugh. Her advice to women new to the industry (and philosophy in general) is to do what you love and have fun doing it.

Pamela enjoys both the beginning of her workday when she walks into the building and greets colleagues and tenants, and when she is at home with her two teenage children. Though she loves her work, Pamela said her favorite times are being at home hanging out with her family.