Thursday, October 28, 2010

Breakfast with the Boys

The commercial real estate business is still largely a male dominated business. Whenever there is a large industry gathering such as this mornings CoRE kick off breakfast I am struck both by how much things have changed and how much they still remain the same.

Of course being one of the boys I rather enjoy the male camaraderie. Yet even as I exchanged hearty greetings with my many manly colleagues I noticed that this old boys club doesn’t look so much like an old boys club anymore. The gender scale has noticeably shifted.

The pioneers of this shift were women like Kim Penny. I recall a conversation at least fifteen years ago when Kim was trying to decide if making the leap into commercial brokerage was a good move for her. Today she is a Vice President at CBRE, one of the largest commercial real estate brokerages in the world.

There were other women pioneers too like Laura WesterveltAbby Glassberg and Sharon Caplan, to name a few. It’s not just happening on the brokerage side of the business either. The Senior Vice President of Asset Management and Leasing for Corporate Office Properties Trust was there this morning as well. Cathy Ward has been in the business as long if not longer than me. It was really a boys club when these gals came along but they toughed it out and cleared a bit of a path for those coming behind them.

That point was driven home when I introduced Kate Nolan today. Kate is a member the next generation of women in the club and the project director for our building, the main point of contact with the general contractor. Like the others before her, she is now cutting a path through the construction side of the business, the last great bastion of male dominance in commercial real estate.

Breakfast with the boys will never be the same.
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