On November 15, Berkadia Affordable Housing will descend on Chicago to attend AHF Live, the nation’s leading affordable housing event. This year Berkadia is proud to sponsor AHF Live’s Women in Affordable Housing Luncheon, an event that provides networking opportunities for women at all stages of their careers.
Ahead of the conference, and the luncheon, we caught up with Susan Moro, Managing Director, Head of Transaction Management; Corine Sheridan, Senior Vice President, Head of Acquisitions; and Heather Olson, Managing Director—just a few of the many talented female team members of Berkadia Affordable—to talk about their paths to success and how to better position women for long-term success in the industry.
CRE is notoriously male dominated. Though that’s changing, there’s still work to do. What advice do you have for women who may just be starting their careers in the commercial real estate industry?
Susan Moro (SM): It’s true, CRE is still an industry dominated by men and we need our younger women to change the balance! Find allies in both male and female colleagues to provide mentorship and to support your growth. If you don’t understand something, do research and ask questions – strive to learn something new. Seek opportunities to gain more visibility in your field by joining industry organizations and not only attending but speaking at conferences. Build your personal brand!
Heather Olson (HO): Agreed. Seeking out mentorship, from both women and men, is so important. Spend as much time as you can with leaders in your field. Do your research on them and their companies and ask for their guidance. They will give it to you openly if they know you are well prepared to receive it.
Corine Sheridan (CS): Be bold! Stand up for yourself, learn as much as you can from others, and definitely find some mentors.
Encouraging more young women to join, and stay, in commercial real estate is crucial to cultivating a new generation of leaders. Why is it important that we have more women in leadership roles and how do we encourage that?
SM: We need more women in leadership roles not only to offer an alternative perspective but to serve as role models and mentors to encourage younger women to broaden their vision on where they want to take their career. To do that, we need to congratulate, applaud and give credit for achievements. And when things don’t go so well, let’s be able to have an honest conversation on how we can do better.
HO: Our daughters need to be able to see that there is no limit for them in any industry. Look within your organization for other women that have the drive for growth in their careers but might not know the path. I began my career as an administrative assistant who knew nothing about affordable housing. You never know where the next leader in your group will come from.
CS: Be on the lookout for ways to lift other women up. Find opportunities to mentor each other, to learn from each other. Give other women shout outs and praise for their work and their leadership.
Each of you is a leader in your own right. What’s a lesson that you’ve learned that’s unique to being a female leader?
CS: I’ve learned that you have to figure out who you can trust as you work your way up to a leadership position. This changes over time. You need to have your “pack” of other women who will always support you, look out for you, be there for you along the way. Never let them go – you will need them.
HO: Do not try to conform your leadership style to the way you see men lead. The natural gifts that we have as women, put us in a position to lead in ways that men could never match.
To hear more from the female leaders of Berkadia Affordable, come visit us at AHF Live!