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Bay Area Power Women: 5 Questions With AEI's Holly Neber

This limited series profiles Bay Area Power Women who have helped shape Bay Area cities, neighborhoods, businesses and lifestyles. These women will be honored at Bisnow's Bay Area Power Women event in San Francisco on May 30.

Holly Neber is CEO of AEI Consultants and the 2019 CREW Network president. Neber has worked in environmental consulting since 1996 and with AEI since 1999. Employee-owned AEI is an international real property consulting firm specializing in environmental, property and facility assessments, zoning, energy efficiency consulting, site investigation and remediation, industrial hygiene and construction risk management services.

She has been a member of CREW East Bay since 2009, and was chapter president in 2014. She is vice president of the National Engineering and Environmental Due Diligence Association.

AEI Consultants CEO Holly Neber

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

Neber: We help people "kick the tires" on potential investments. We help them understand if it's worth what they think it's worth or if there are environmental or engineering impairments that affect the value. We help people make good decisions. Our proudest moment is when a client calls and says, "Hey, I want to run something by you." It's great to feel like a key adviser on their team.

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

Neber: On a personal level, whenever someone says "you inspired me." I am proud that I've continued to stretch myself and be open to change. On a business front, I'm proud of our strategic plan at AEI. As an employee-owned company, I am a steward for the future generation of leaders and we've created a great foundation from which to continue to grow.

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

Neber: The main difference I've seen is that people are more likely to talk about it today. When I started in the industry, it was taboo to discuss salaries. Now companies are more open and transparent. Pay parity programs such as the one at Salesforce and the media attention they receive have helped leaders become more aware of the issue and best practices for addressing it. We still have a long way to go, however.

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

Neber: Stay curious and always focus on learning. The best way to navigate the ups and downs of life and career, in my opinion, is to focus on what you can learn from each situation. There is a wealth of knowledge if you are willing to be curious and open about what occurred, why and how you want to use the learning for the next situation. I also recommend people start connecting with others in their industry as soon as possible. When you're starting out, you and your peers can create wonderful bonds, and later in your careers, you'll all be running departments or companies and working together at a higher level. Start early on building your network of like-minded friends within your industry.

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

Neber: I love being outdoors — hiking or at the beach. Being in nature is my favorite way to recharge.

Meet AEI Consultants CEO Holly Neber at Bisnow's Bay Area Power Women event May 30 at Hotel Nikko in San Francisco.