At January’s CREFC conference, Berkadia’s Jan Sternin, SVP, Managing Director, was recognized with the CREFC’s Founders Award, which is given annually in recognition of an individual who, through his or her engagement in CREFC and in the industry broadly, has enhanced and improved the marketplace for commercial real estate lending and financial products and services. Candidates are nominated by Board members and the winner is selected by the Executive Committee of the Board of Governors.
For Berkadians and all those who have worked with Jan across her career, it comes as no surprise to see her recognized for her commitment, leadership and service to the commercial real estate finance industry, but it is of great pride to the organization to see Jan awarded this recognition that she is most deserving of.
We caught up with Jan to talk about what this award means to her, some of her milestones along the way and what still remains for her to accomplish.
Winning the Founders Award puts you in auspicious company (including Berkadia’s own Joe Franzetti!). What does it mean to you to receive this recognition?
I am truly honored to receive this award. During my time with CREFC, I’ve developed many life long relationships with peers and colleagues, who I admire and respect deeply, so it means a great deal to me that these same peers and friends want to recognize me in this special way. Since its founding in 1994, first as CSSA and then CMSA and now CREFC, the organization and its mission has always been driven by its members, who have contributed countless hours and resources. We all share a commitment to the industry, and the organization, and we like each other! I have felt tremendous pride to see my deserving colleagues recognized with the Founders Award in the past, and I feel that same sense of pride to now count myself among them.
What is so important about the work of CREFC? Why has your engagement with the organization meant so much to you?
CREFC is truly the voice of the commercial real estate finance industry. From the early days dealing with the RTC, through working on the first TRIA (terrorism insurance bill) and all that time on the hill, to being a founding member of the CREFC Women’s Network as well as a PAC Co-Chair, I feel like I’ve truly had a front row seat to much of the incredible work that this organization has accomplished. I’d be remiss if I did not also mention the CREFC Servicer Forum, where I was fortunate enough to have an elongated term, as well as participation in many other initiatives and task forces.
As much as the organization has impacted the industry, it has impacted me even more. I never forget for a minute that I am fortunate to be able to call the Board of Governors past and present not just my colleagues but my friends. Ours is a small industry, which enables us to continue to work together in many different roles even as the industry morphs, and it is joy to continue to be able to do great work with people I hold in high esteem. I feel very grateful to have had the opportunity to work with true industry leaders at the forefront of the evolution of commercial real estate securitization .
Mentorship and cultivation of the next generation has always been an important aspect of your work. You’ve served a SVP of Commercial and Multifamily for the Mortgage Bankers Association, last year were named one of two first Fellows at the CREFC Center for Real Estate Finance at the Schack Institute and, most recently, you helped to launch Berkadia’s Women-focused Employee Resource Group. Why is this so important to you?
For me, mentorship and support for the next generation is a source of true pleasure and reward. When you share your knowledge and experience, you will always get back more than you give. And I think it’s so important to not only share good advice and positive experiences, but to also be candid about challenges and missteps along the way. I have benefited greatly from peers who shared openly with me and I with them.
I have had a wonderful career in CRE so far and met so many incredible and interesting people along the way. I have been fortunate to work with and for some of the most intelligent and selfless people in the industry and I want to encourage others to join, and stay, in CRE so that they can have the same experience! There is so much to be gained in life, both professionally and personally, for those in our field who remain curious, surround themselves with people they think are interesting, ask questions and, above all, listen to others.
It might seem like with everything you’ve already accomplished, there’s not much left for you to do in the field of CRE! What do you hope to accomplish in the future?
I have been so fortunate and hope to continue to mentor others. As for other accomplishments, who knows! When I look back 30 years, I never could have seen myself here having accomplished so much and I hope my journey of learning from, and sharing with, others never ends!