CREWBaltimore hosted the “Women of Influence” Luncheon at the Center Club on January 9, 2018. We welcomed back moderator Christine Espenshade, a CREWBaltimore member for six years, and a Managing Director at Jones Lang Lasalle. The panel included Lisa Goodwin, Sr. Vice President of MRP Industrial, Amy Bonitz, President & CEO of Baltimore Arts Realty Corporation, and Caroline Paff, Vice President of Sagamore Development. The women covered topics that are beneficial to all women in the industry and also discussed the results found in CREW Network’s White Paper on gender bias and other barriers for women in the CRE industry.
All three panelists noted that they did not originally plan on getting into the commercial real estate field, but that they were successful at the start of their careers due to the mentors they sought out. Mentors are important at all stages of your career, and can help determine your career plan. Knowing where you want to end up will help you seek out the opportunities and challenges that will positively impact your career and set you up for advancement. Goodwin revealed that taking advantage of “sink or swim” opportunities propelled her forward in her career path. Mentors would provide guidance, but she found that she learned more when she was in the depths of these challenges. Paff mentioned that while opportunities are important in gaining traction to move forward, so is the support system around you. Your mentor will give you the balance of both support and opportunity. Bonitz confirmed that you must set up your parameters and guard them, and she also noted that sometimes you must “hit the shark in the nose and take charge of an intimidating situation. If you take responsibility for your own progress, stand up for your ideas or projects and exude confidence in your ability to get the job done, you will be more likely to earn the respect of your peers.
Growing your career over time does not come without diligence. Goodwin discussed how personal accountability and being responsible for your own growth will help you move up the ladder in your career. She also noted that when you love what you do, love who you are doing it with, and you feel that you are a valued team member, you are more likely to choose to continue in that particular career. Putting in the extra hours is sometimes inevitable in the commercial real estate field; however, “you have to challenge yourself to be resilient,” added Espenshade. “If you are feeling alone in your [work life balance] situation, then find women in similar life situations to [talk to]”, and get input about your own situation, shared Paff.
Do not let your failures isolate you; talking about them with others will allow you to grow from these experiences. “All business women have experienced failures of some sort in their career” said Paff. Bonitz added that a deal sometimes dies fifteen times before it lives, and the team she has put together at her firm always remains positive and looks at how they can learn from each situation. In order to have the team remain positive and motivated to move forward it is important to have a vision that everyone wants to see brought to fruition. Goodwin followed up with noting that most of the time mistakes are made when you are involved in the unknown, and you can learn and grow from them. The ability to get back on the field and resume play is how you will determine your success moving forward.
The panel also had a chance to discuss workplace diversity. Paff suggested providing a written pathway as a way to hold everyone accountable to deliver on the promises made when you are first hired. Goodwin shared that over the years she has never seen it as men vs. women, but one team working towards an end goal. She also added that women bring an emotional balance to their team and their successes. Women play an integral role in commercial real estate, and the panelists provided insightful commentary and real-life experiences when asked questions by the audience members at the end of the event. We appreciate their willingness to share their experiences with us at this event.
Please join us on April 11 for our next Center Club luncheon about the State of the State!