NEW YORK CITY-Though they hail from diverse backgrounds, the successful women who comprised the “Annual Powerful Women Panel: Real Estate and Beyond”—which was presented during the Association of Real Estate Women meeting on Tuesday at Club 101 in Manhattan—had a great deal in common. All trailblazers in their own right, the women all shared humility, the foresight to work with others and hope for women’s place in the industry down the road.
The panel was comprised of Gail Ayers, president, CREW Network; Ana Bertuna, VP, Related; Michelle Thompson-Dolberry, director of strategic initiatives for Women Impacting (Public) Policy; Nancy Goshow, managing partner, Goshow Architects; and Amy Rose, co-president, Rose Associates. The group’s moderator was Courtney Donohoe, anchor, Bloomberg Radio.
Goshow, who started her own firm with her husband over 30 years ago, took it in stride when asked how she copes with mistakes. “It’s important to be able to laugh at ourselves,” she said. “When we come in second on a bid, I say ‘we didn’t want to work with them either.’ We learn something from it that can be used in the future.”
Women need to be able to falter and get back up, suggested Ayers. “Keep perspective,” she said of those moments that don’t go as planned. “Take the risk to step up next time, versus saying ‘I don’t want to take the risk again.’” Noted Thompson-Dolberry, “As women, whne we lose, we take it personally. We need to learn to be objective about what happened, learn from it and move on.”
Panelists noted the importance of relying on, and lifting up, other women in order to advance the industry. “You have to constantly invest time in mentoring and networking if you want people to want to invest in you,” said Thompson-Dolberry. But there are certain traits to seek out when finding a mentor, others added. “Your mentors need to be open enough to embrace change,” added Bertuna. “They should be helping you grow.”
Women also must spend time helping and promoting other women, the group said. “Think about who you can help as much as you think about what you want,” Ayers asserted. “If you’re the only woman in the room, there’s something wrong.”
Rose spoke of an event where she was invited to speak but she was the only woman scheduled to attend the event of 150 people. She demanded that the organizers recruit 25 women to attend or she wouldn’t participate, and they did. She also brings women along to events she’s attending, or where she’s speaking.
“I dream of going into a project where the lawyers are women as well as the bankers,” says Rose. “It will happen.” They urged those in the audience with experience to seek out women with whom to do business.
“If you use, CREWbiz [a directory of members of CREW, an association of women in real estate], you can do business with very qualified women all around the country,” said Ayers. “It’s a great way to see what talent is out there. We also have a mentoring program for women who are just outside the C-suite—which we established because women have a tendency to stay at the VP level—and another one for people who have a specific area of interest.”
The group of successful women also reminded the audience of how to be a good boss. “Someone once told me ‘remember the three F’s,” said Ayers. “Always be friendly, fair and firm, and not necessarily in that order.”