WOW! Last week was an amazing and inspiring experience. From the beginning of the week when 70 women graduated from our Leadership Certificate program, through Robin Roberts’ closing keynote about her journey and philosophy to dream big and focus small, there were so many takeaways from the CREW Network Convention and Marketplace last week. The overall theme from our speakers and program was about being on a journey. Each of the keynote speakers shared their journey and lessons learned.
Alison Levine’s opening keynote inspired so many of us with her will and determination to reach the top of Mount Everest. She took us up the mountain with her and we held our breath as she explained the moving ice and crevices crossable only by ladders strung together—and the constant threat of avalanche and loss of oxygen. We agonized with her and her team as she explained going up and back down (several times) from camp to camp to acclimatize. “Backing up is not the same as backing down,” she said.
When she explained that due to weather the all-women team did not reach the peak of Everest, we shared her disappointment. She stated that you can’t control the environment, but you can control your response to it. Good decision-making is key. Finally, her friend Meg Berte Owen, who passed away in 2009, was the inspiration and the kick in the pants to get Levine to go up the mountain one more time to reach the peak. And she did. Her journey was about climbing, determination, commitment, learning about herself and perseverance.
Marcus & Millichap CEO Hessam Nadji provided a snapshot about the future journey of the industry. He noted that things remain steady and there is opportunity, while acknowledging that this run won’t last forever. On this industry journey we need to remain vigilant and watch our environment for signs that the downturn is coming. He noted that technology has been a gamechanger for other industries and will be for commercial real estate as well. His personal journey to the C-Suite captured the audience with his candor and thoughtfulness about an immigrant boy making his way in a strange country. Another inspirational journey.
Sue Ansel, CEO of Gables and Hilary Provinse, Executive Vice President of Berkadia were honored as CREW Network Distinguished Leaders for their leadership and trailblazing in the industry. Each shared their journey from beginning in the business to their rise to the C-Suite. Ansel stated that part of her success was due to taking on new initiatives and creating a path forward. Provinse noted that she took risks and sometimes failed, which helped her learn and grow in leadership skills and knowledge. Probably the most memorable comment from Provinse was when she explained to her young daughter that she had to go on a business trip to welcome a woman into a top leadership role, and her daughter said, “go punch the glass [ceiling] mom.” Now that’s inspiring!
When Robin Roberts took the stage, attendees were rapt as she shared her journey from small town Mississippi to the Big Apple, from a local sports reporter to an ESPN SportsCenter anchor to a top national morning show anchor. Along the way, Roberts shared the words of her mother, “go make your mess your message,” and the inspiration of mentors. She explained that having mentors who believe in you and support you is crucial. But mostly, Roberts believed in herself and her dream. She’s amazingly humble, her faith has gotten her through two serious health crises and she remains positive in the face of any challenges. Inspiration is an understatement!
One of the most memorable moments for me was when 10 of our 2018 CREW Network Foundation scholarship recipients took the stage. Dominique Staton of the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill spoke on behalf of the group and eloquently thanked the audience for supporting young women in the industry. She brought tears to our eyes when she noted how important it was for the scholars to be at the convention and begin building their network and learning from amazing women leaders of CREW.
From the moment the marketplace opened on Wednesday through the fabulous closing luncheon Friday afternoon, the energy and engagement of more than 1,200 participants was apparent. As I told the first-time attendees, this event will change you. Whatever journey you are on, CREW can help you along the way. Start by joining CREW to meet inspiring women, new connections and potential business partners.
Thanks for being part of our organization and for leading women into the future.
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Wendy Mann is the chief executive officer of Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW) Network and president of the CREW Network Foundation.