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Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW) Network National Conference and Marketplace

The CREW Network National Conference and Marketplace were held at the Hilton Midtown in New York City October 18 -22, 2016.  This year the conference theme was “Impact” and was attended by more than 1,500 CREW members Nationally and Internationally.  CREW is well established in the United States and Canada; this year CREW has jumped the pond and is taking root in Europe with the first Chapter opening in London.

The conference offered opportunities to network and build relationships with women from all different aspects of Real Estate.  The days were filled with learning opportunities on the subjects that are relevant in today’s industry and the purposeful interaction at lunches and tours to interact and connect.  These planned events provided excellent environments to build relationships and open the door for future deal making.  The following is some of the highlights of the incredible Keynote Speakers during the event:

Social psychologist Amy Cuddy, a Harvard Business School professor, New York Times bestselling author, and Young Global Leader at the World Economic Forum shared her wisdom that she discusses on her Ted Talk, “Your Body Language shapes who you are”.  Her Ted Talk has been viewed more than 37 million times and was the buzz of the convention.  She explained how “power posing” – standing in a posture of confidence, even when we don’t feel confident – can affect testosterone and cortisol levels in the brain, and might even have an impact on our chances of success.  Cuddy explained how it is the natural human experience to throw your arms up in a V during times of great accomplishments, such as winning a race or setting a record.  She explained that this behavior is observed in all cultures historically and in the present day.

Cuddy recommended that prior to going into a negotiation or big meeting to assume a power pose to give yourself the subconscious and conscious confidence to perform at a higher level.  She also suggested that your sleeping position gives clues to your perceived self-worth and by making simple changes in our daily routine enhances our performance.  So, include in your morning routine standing with your arms high in a V and take up more room in the meeting chair – it will change your life.

Mary Ann Tighe is one of the world’s most prominent women in brokerage, and Crain’s New York Business has named her the most powerful woman – across both public and private sectors – in New York.  She has been CEO of CBRE’s New York Tri-State Region since 2002, a region of 2,500 employees.  Tighe offered insight on being on the forefront of the transformation of New York’s skyline during her 30 years in the real estate industry.  She encouraged the attendees to take risks and learn the business in all aspects to further your knowledge of the entire real estate transaction from site selection to investment sale.  She advised that it is important to have a Mentor, but also a Sponsor that will advocate for you.  She shared stories of overseeing large construction projects as a woman in the early years and succeeding by continuing to grow and being willing to push yourself beyond your self-perceived limitations.   She was aspirational in sharing her story of paving the way of building and owning companies in a male dominated business and reminded all of us to continue to open the doors for those coming up in the business.

Sallie Krawcheck, CEO and Co-Founder of Ellevest, a soon-to-be-launched digital investment platform for women, and Chair of Pax Ellevate Global Woman’s Index Fund, which invests in the top-rated companies in the world for advancing women.  Krawcheck is the past CEO of Merrill Lynch Wealth Management, the largest wealth management business in the world, at $2.2 trillion in client balances.  Krawcheck shared stories of being the only woman at the C-Suite Level in multiple companies and Boards.  She advised that new research has confirmed that a corporation operates at its optimal performance when gender and racial diversity reaches about 40% of the overall company management level.  At that point, there is a direct correlation to reaching above-average returns and profits.  It also provides a competitive advantage for the companies to attract and retain diverse talent.  She advocated for taking risks and taking inventory of your personal interaction with other women coming into management and the C-Suite.  Are you a Mentor or a Sponsor, do you mentor until the person becomes your competition, then leave them without support when it matters most – or do you sponsor and advocate for that person when times are difficult?  If you feel that there is only room for one woman in the Board Room, then at some point your Mentee becomes your competition.  If we continue this mindset, we will not make the breakthroughs welcome and support diversity in corporate leadership.  Take risks and not the only mentor, but sponsor ethnic and gender diversity to achieve your company’s maximum potential.

Admiral William H. McRaven, USN (Ret.)  is University of Texas System Chancellor and a retired U.S. Navy four-star Admiral.  He leads one of the nation’s largest and most respected systems of higher education.  As the chief executive officer of the UT System, McRaven oversees 14 institutions that educate 217,000 students and employ more than 90,000 staff.  McRaven is recognized as a national authority on U.S. foreign policy and advisor to presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama.  McRaven is a former commander of U.S. Special Operations Command and is credited for organizing and overseeing Operation Neptune Spear, the special ops raid that took down terrorist Osama bin Laden on May 2, 2011.  McRaven encouraged us to be a servant leader and not expect anyone on our staff to do something that we would not do ourselves.  He shared that you should take risks, but do so in an informed manner.  He believes that leading provides you the opportunity to be an example of what you expect from your staff.  During his tenure at UT, he realized that the management staff and teaching did not represent the diversity of the students they were serving.  To effect change in the diversity, he requires that the final interview for promotion includes at least one qualified candidate of the ethnic or gender diversity that is lacking in that department or position.  The best person is always selected for the job, but this policy opens the potential increase the diversity to better reflect the environment and student population that they serve.

I have been in the business a long time, and most of my time in management I have been the only women in the room.  I left the conference with a renewed sense of purpose in mentoring and sponsoring gender and ethnic diversity in my role today and in the future.  I am proud to have served as a Chapter President and will continue to be involved locally and nationally as I support CREW moving towards a more diverse and profitable future.  GO CREW!

Colleen J. Butcher, CCIM

Managing Director