When Melissa Alexander left the Memphis-based Cushman & Wakefield affiliate where she’d been part of a top-producing industrial team to launch her own brokerage business in a new city, she was forced to hit the ground running.

“I was in a bit of a square peg, round hole kind of situation,” Alexander, now a senior vice president at Foundry Commercial in Nashville, says. “I had the experience but didn’t have the book of business in Nashville for someone to say yeah, join my shop. I faced a lot of skepticism, especially in a sector like industrial where there aren’t a lot of women at the table. I was saying, hey, I’m here. I’m ready to work. I’m ready to hustle. Just give me a desk, a phone and a laptop.”

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