Dorothy L. Alpert is principal and Tri-State president for Avison Young and serves as head of the company’s Tri-State Executive Committee responsible for supporting strategic growth in the region. Alpert’s experience involves leveraging technology to enhance client service capabilities. Alpert is also the co-founder of the ULI Women’s Leadership Initiative and an advocate for diversity and inclusion in the commercial real estate industry.
What has been your biggest challenge or obstacle as a woman in your particular role? How have you overcome those obstacles? The two biggest challenges I encountered coming up in the industry were not having female role models and navigating the perception of getting certain roles or opportunities because I was a woman.
I overcame the first challenge by seeking out the few women role models that were available to me and looking to my male colleagues as mentors. The second challenge was a little harder to overcome. However, through the quality of my work and efficiency, I was able to demonstrate why I was a clear fit for a particular role or opportunity.
Where would you say commercial real estate needs to improve for women? There needs to be more women in leadership roles and more groups like WX, CREW and ULI that focus on developing women leaders in the industry.
How can women better position themselves for success both in general and in your specific area of focus? Women should focus on three areas: 1) Get a mentor or mentors early in your career; 2) Get involved in every opportunity available, declining an invitation to participate will be a missed opportunity; 3) Network as much as possible, even with peers from other companies.
What is the best piece of advice you have received that has helped you succeed in your industry? First and foremost, produce quality work. Then focus on the three areas above.
What, in particular, can women bring to the table as the industry continues to grapple with the COVID-19 crisis? Women are uniquely wired to be empathic, which is something that is very much needed during this difficult time. Also, most women have a strong work ethic and drive that gets tasks over the finish line.
What do you advise young women to do to get a foothold in the industry and how does this advice differ from what you may have received when you were starting out? I advise women to be open to going outside of their comfort zones in taking on new and different opportunities and embracing change. When I was starting out, the focus was to work hard, and rewards will come. Well, that no longer works.
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