18C — October 25 - November 7, 2013 — Executive Women in Business — Mid Atlantic Real Estate Journal


Executive Women in Business

Colleen Wenke, Vice President Taconic Investment Partners Tell us how and when you began your career in the profession you are in? The year I graduated college the job market was very tight and finding a job proved quite difficult. I had always thought I wanted to be a medical doc- tor but wanted to take some

Christa Duelberg-Kraftician, AIA LEED AP, Principal Spillman Farmer Architects Tell us how and when you began your career in the profession you are in? When I came to the Unit- ed States from my native

Debra Stracke Anderson CCIM, SIOR President and CEO, Sloan Street Advisors / ITRA Global Tell us how and when you began your career in the profession you are in? I began on the develop- ment side of commercial real estate nearly 30 years ago and later moved into leasing, first representing landlords as a leasing agent and later

Germany, I was faced with both an unfamiliar country, a language barrier, and an industry dominated by men. I joined SFA in 1990 while pursuing my Bachelor of Architecture from Drexel University and raising my daughter, Jasmine. In 2003, I became an associate at SFA – the first female associate in the firm’s 85-year history. In 2010, I was promoted to a partner at SFA – another female first. What were some of your early goals and did anything happen in your career to change them? Two of my goals were (and continue to be) living sustainably and supporting working women. Sustainability is important because as architects, we have a responsibility to improve the future by shaping the built environment. I believe in living responsibly not just for the present, but so I can leave behind a world that supports future generations. As a woman in a male-dominated field, supporting women in the workplace is also very important. Although the ratio of women to men studying architecture at universities is fairly equal, employment num- bers show that the number of female architects drops dramatically following graduation. As an executive in the business world, I believe in mentoring young women and encouraging them to pursue their career. n

leading regional teams. I founded my firm in 2000 to focus exclusively on the corporate tenant/buyer side and have found that my previous tenure on the other side of the table has afforded my clients a significant advantage during negotiations. What challenges and or obstacles do you feel you needed to overcome to become as successful as you are today? I beganmy career at a time when very fewwomen were active in commercial real estate, so I worked especially hard to establish a solid reputation as credible, achievement-oriented and fair. I was will- ing to go the extra mile for clients and colleagues and they noticed. The result was that I was able to do well, reaching milestones and receiving rec- ognition that added credibility as I climbed the ladder. I ended up as Regional VP of Leasing for a prestigious international company, a role I found extremely rewarding and rare for a woman. After years as an executive with large firms, I started my company, which was selected as the D.C. affili- ate for ITRA Global. I was elected the first woman Chairman of the Board for ITRAGlobal, which was certainly one of the high points of my career. Do you feel being a woman is an advantage in today’s business world? Why? Why not? Since the time I entered the field, the presence of women in the industry has increased. However, only a small percentage in the business community at large has reached the C-Suite or been invited to serve on a corporate board. Women have excep- tional intuitive, creative and collegial gifts that bring tremendous value to organizations. We need to insure that many more talented women are invited to the table. n

time off before beginning on that path. I linked up with Taconic for a temporary position, assisting in whatever needed to be done for the construction and development team. I quickly realized there was a good fit between myself and what Taconic was doing – the only challenge was that there was no position for me. It took perseverance, lots of hard work, and many conversations before I was offered a full-time position. During my tenure I went back to school at night to earn a Masters in Real Estate. Throughout the years, I have grown to manage and participate in all aspects of the process – from due diligence and acquisitions, development and construction, to lease-up, operations, and exit strategy. What unique qualities and/or personality traits do you feel makes you most successful in your profession? Growing up in a larger family – where I am the middle girl between two brothers – and playing team sports aided in the development of my per- sonality traits. These traits are what I rely on in my career. While core skills and knowledge are key components to efficiently working through any pro- cess, it’s about working within teams to get work done effectively and on-time. This requires one to be assertive since you need to be able to express yourself without turning people off. In a single day, I can meet with subcontractors on-site for an upcoming new project, followed by a meeting with investors in the office and have a design meeting following that. Being patient, pliable, persuasive – but above all, comfortable – across diverse sce- narios is critical. n

Linda Parish, Union Center . . . continued from pg 17C

needed a new prosthetic, which I didn’t know until he placed his old leg on my desk. I was asked to play in a golf tournament in the early 80s. When I arrived, it was all men and the grill where the lunch was being heldwas formen only. I was told to stick my hair up in a baseball cap, take off mymake up and keep my sunglasses on and don’t talk. I could then maybe pass as a short man! What outside activities do you enjoy during you free time? Tennis, golf, sailing cooking, travelling, What do you feel is the key to your success? Being true to myself through: My 6 P’s---Passion- for life in all aspects; People—can’t climb the pyramid by myself, people need people to interconnect, always listening to others, success is in- terdependent; Persistent—de- siring to make a difference; and Perseverance—never giving up; Power—owning my own power, be in control of my destiny; Patience. n

ing, a great listener, persistent, patient, creative, and intel- ligent. What challenges and or obstacles do you feel you needed to overcome to be- come as successful as you are today? I’ve learned to accept... the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference. (Serenity Prayer) Do you feel being awoman is an advantage in today’s business world? Why? Why not? Yes and no—there are still barriers and the “good ol’ boy clubs” still exist and they will most likely always exist. In the meantime, women have their own “good ol’ girls clubs” which benefit other women. The younger generations of women, those in their 20s and 30s have fewer barriers than those who started their careers in the 60s, 70s and 80s. I have learned to go around brick walls to get to the other side, rather than through them. I can bang my

head just somany times. Wom- en may have to work harder to be noticed and deemed cred- ible, to break through, so to speak, but in the end, women are better off. Hard work and seeing what’s right, rather than wrong, will ultimately give me, a woman, the advantage. Do you feel there are any differences in the way that men and women develop business relationships and if so, what activities or ven- ues do you participate in? Yes—sports, in particular golf. Tell us a little about your family. I am blessed with 3 wonder- ful children. My oldest daugh- ter graduated from NYU, the Gallatin School in 2010 and is working for Standard &Poor’s while attending Fordham Law School. My middle daughter, a Division 1 soccer scholar athlete, is graduating from Northwestern with a degree in Economics and currently is interning at Coe Capital Man- agement; my son is a junior at

Columbia University in NYC. He is president of the Hamil- ton Society at Columbia and is part of the executive leadership council forAmerican Enterprise Institute at Columbia. If you are the primary caregiver to your children what obstacle and chal- lenges do you meet on a day to day basis? Saying no when it’s easier to say yes. Funding their college and extracurriculars while teaching them to live by a bud- get, and to be aware of spending habits and impulsivity. Learn to live off 90% of what they receive, save or store the other 10%. Getting them to remain close to their faith as young adults. What is the funniest, most unique situation you have faced / conquered during your business career? I have several but two that stand out are as follows: While working at a commu- nity bank in Oklahoma, I had a customer who said he needed a leg loan. He was serious as he

the international credit audit division. I remained in banking throughout the years work- ing for Nations Bank/Bank of America; Bank One; and JPM- organChase. What were some of your early goals anddid anything happen in your career /pro- fession to change them? My goals, past, present and future, have always been to be the best I can be. To be success- ful both personally and profes- sionally which are measured by happiness, not only mine, but my family’s and with those I encounter. While in my 20s, I thought I could map my life exactly as it should happen with goals that would be readily attainable, that single path become many journeys. I have learned that “success is a roadway, not a destination”. What unique qualities and or personality do you feel makes you most successful in your profession? I am authentic, honest, car-

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