20C — October 25 - November 7, 2013 — Executive Women in Business — Mid Atlantic Real Estate Journal
Executive Women in Business
Susan M. Mason, Executive Vice President Jones Lang LaSalle
Dana Robbins Schneider, Senior Vice President and Director of Energy and Sustainability Services Jones Lang LaSalle Tell us how and when you began your career in the profession you are in? During my first semester at the University of Virginia,
Tell us how and when you began your career in the profession you are in?
I began my commercial real estate career in the 1980s when the office market was booming. My father was in residential real estate and appraising, and was very supportive of my profession. Do you feel there are any differences in the way that men and women develop business relationships and if so, what activities or venues do you participate in? Yes, there are certainly differences in developing relationships that are apparent between men and women. For example, there may be certain sporting events that are more frequented by men than women; however, I enjoy taking the time to dine and perhaps engage in an occasional round of golf to cultivate certain relationships. Tell us a little about your family. My parents instilled very strong work ethics in all their children, which resulted in diverse professions in commercial real estate, law, medicine and banking. I’m fortunate to be part of a very large, close-knit family with many nieces and nephews. What is the funniest, most unique situation you have faced / conquered during your business career? One situation that I encountered early in my career stands out. One of my many responsibilities as a young female professional was overseeing construction for new tenant installations. During a walkthrough on a job site, the carpet vendor’s crew was sitting on the floor taking a coffee break. When I inquired as to the completion of the project, they dismissed the “young female” by not standing up and their comments to me were inap- propriate and also questioned “who was asking?” When they discovered that I was responsible for the project and hired the firm they worked for, they quickly “sprung” to their feet and apologized. Within the next hour, the crew was replaced and the job was then completed. What do you feel is the key to your success? Hard work, tenacity and maintaining a high level of integrity. n I joined LaSalle Partners in 1982 as a PropertyAccountant in NewYork after LaSalle Advisors acquired the Daily News Building, also known as 220 East 42nd Street. What were some of your early goals and did anything happen in your career / profession to change them? My first goal was to get out of accounting roles and focus on managing buildings. I worked with a great team that took the time to mentor and coach me, but more importantly, they let me work side by side with them so I could learn on the fly. Do you feel being a woman is an advantage in today’s business world? Why? Why not? That’s a loaded question. At times, I think woman do have an advan- tage. Men and women tend to work differently, and we have the ability to see things from the softer side. Plus, there are a lot of firms that see diversity as a key differentiator. Let’s face it, real estate has long been a male-dominated profession and having women at the table often helps to bring different perspectives. 10. What is the funniest, most unique situation you have faced / conquered during your business career? Back in the mid-80s, a partner in a law firm had complained that the toilet paper dispensers in the men’s room were not working — the lever was broken that allowed users to get to the second roll when the first roll was empty. I had the day porter take a look and it was reported that everything was working. The partner complained again and asked me to meet him in the men’s room so he could show me. Clearly, we were looking at the wrong dispenser. He showed me the “broken” dispenser, and I tested it. All good. He said we must have had the wrong dispenser. We went to the next one. All good. He then thought he had the wrong rest room. For the next hour, this law firm partner and I went to every men’s room within the tenant’s 3 floors and checked the toilet paper dispenser in every stall. n Linda Aronson, Managing director & head of property management Jones Lang LaSalle Tell us how and when you began your career in the profession you are in?
I took a class with William McDonough, the dean of the School of Archi- tecture, and immediately knew I would focus my technical expertise and passion for the environment on sustainable design. My first job was as a mechanical engineer and, by the age of 22, I was collaborating with industry leaders and innovators. As an engineer, I realized that some of the most efficient design options my and colleagues and I were creating were not being implemented. I decided she could make the biggest impact by gaining experience managing projects from inception through comple- tion and directly advising the client on decisions. What challenges and/or obstacles do you feel you needed to overcome to become as successful as you are today? The biggest challenges have been material challenges – How do we solve this problem? How do we achieve this schedule? How do we convince our clients that our plan is the right plan and the plan that will make the most money for them? You just put your head down and work with your team and listen to everyone’s ideas to find the best ones. Tell us a little about your family. The most important thing is my life is my family. I have a beautiful eight-year-old daughter and an adorable six-year-old son. All of the work I do is hopefully making a better world for them. My husband and I are cel- ebrating our 10th anniversary on October 12, and I am so grateful for his love and support. I could not be successful at work or at home alone. If you are the primary caregiver to your children what obstacle and challenges do you meet on a day to day basis? It is possible to have a job that one is passionate about and to be suc- cessful at it while also prioritizing my most important job, which is being a mother. Sometimes I need to miss my son’s football practices or a client dinner, but I do not mind. One person can only be in one place at one time. After you come to grips with that, it is all about prioritization. n I started as an administrative assistant at a commercial real estate firm outside Washington, D.C., immediately after college. Within four years, I was promoted five times and worked in lease administration, property management and leasing. What were some of your early goals and did anything happen in your career / profession to change them? When I moved to New Jersey, I thought I would work as a broker for a year or two and then transition into asset management or development. I never left brokerage as I found I enjoyed the challenge of both winning and executing business equally. Do you feel there are any differences in the way that men and women develop business relationships and if so, what activities or venues do you participate in? This industry is all about developing personal relationships. I try to remember to talk less and listen more as no one has ever learned any- thing by talking. The more you can learn about a person, their personal life, career, etc., the stronger a relationship you can build. What is the funniest, most unique situation you have faced / conquered during your business career? Trying to pick the funniest situation is really hard! My favorites are when I get a glimpse of just how large some egos can be. Early in my career, I was working on the sale of a building. The neighboring property had just sold for a higher per-square-foot price than we thought the asset was worth. When we reached out to the broker to try to get an idea of how he was able to achieve that pricing, we were told, with all sincerity, “salesmanship.” After we hung up and had a good laugh, we dug further and discovered that a good amount of future developable land came with the sale. To this day, whenever I hear anyone getting a bit too full of themselves, I say: “salesmanship!” n Jodie Matthews, Vice President Jones Lang LaSalle Tell us how and when you began your career in the profession you are in?
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