Lessons learned from Liberty Station & Seaport Village

By Andrea Papagianis-Camacho

Thursday, January 4, 2018


As San Diego's iconic landmarks continue to evolve, many lessons can be learned from large-scale development projects on government-owned lands that are shaping the city's diverse communities.


The developers of two local legacy projects, Liberty Station and Seaport Village, recently sat down with Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW) San Diego at THE LOT Liberty Station, a fusion of cinema, café bar and restaurant, to discuss the tangle of regulations, outreach and unique issues their projects have faced and how they've addressed community concerns to preserve the integrity and historical significance of the city's prized waterfront locations while fulfilling the public's ever-changing needs.


While distinct projects, the developments, one nearing build out and the other still in its relative infancy (as groundbreaking is still a few years away), share many features, stakeholders, potential pitfalls and a common goal: to protect genuine elements of San Diego for residents and visitors, alike, to experience.


"Development on government land is a labyrinth of regulations," said Joe Haeussler, Executive Vice President of Corky McMillin Companies, master developer of the former Naval Training Center, Liberty Station. The property has been subject to regulations from the U.S. Navy, State of California, County and City of San Diego, California Coastal Commission, historic preservation and local oversight bodies. "There is a lot of history here," said Haeussler. "Liberty Station carries authentic San Diego history, and there is a large responsibility to carry that forward, embracing the past while creating new traditions."


A naval station until its realignment and eventual closure in 1997, the 361-acre development is now home to a housing development, 56 National Register of Historic Places-listed buildings, schools, hotels, traditional and artisan-centric retail, a brewery, restaurants and golf course.


"Private or public land, there is always regulation," said Yehudi Gaffen, managing partner of Seaport San Diego and chief executive officer of the San Diego-based development firm, Gafcon Inc. "The big difference with developing on public lands is politics. It is a small word with big implications, and you have to balance the many interests, listen and be proactive with all the stakeholders."


San Diegans have played instrumental roles in both developments.


"We identified 48 stakeholders when we started out," Gaffen said. "We reached out to them and quickly learned who the interested parties were. In developing anything on the waterfront, we felt working with local fisherman was essential ... we've spent a lot of time engaging them to hear and address concerns."


As it exists today, the more than $1 billion Seaport Village project, one of the state's largest development undertakings, has plans for three to four hotels — from hostel-style to high-end accommodations — an aquarium, observation tower, waterfront marine-education school, fisherman's market, over 250,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space as well as recreational boating facilities and open park spaces.


Working with local residents, fisherman, business owners, officials, construction firms and workers' unions, among others, Gaffen and his partners have put building trust at the forefront of their interactions.


"You have to be sure you are communicating and engaged," Gaffen said. "You have to act quickly. It's about problem solving, interacting and it cannot be done remotely. You have to have boots on the ground and interact. And it is an ongoing thing. You are never done. Because if you are done, you are done."


Haeussler agreed, stating that community input and support has been central to Liberty Station's planning, execution, branding and ultimate success as a local destination.


"You have to listen to the local community," Haeussler said. "With projects of this expanse, you are building a community in and of itself. You have to keep it all in balance, and communication is key to that. You also have to do your research and understand the opposition."


It is essential to ensure you are "actually meeting people and hearing their perspective," he said, "but you have to know when to pick your path and, in some cases, power through" to get the job done.


Aside from dealing with regulatory obstacles and engaging community stakeholders, both developers have faced their fair share of unforeseen challenges that have required quick thinking and flexibility to solve issues and keep projects on track. The discovery of an earthquake fault line on the 70-acre Seaport Village site forced some design changes but has ultimately lead to a better project, Gaffen said.


With nearly 60 aging structures, Liberty Station's redevelopment ran into hazardous materials that required proper handling and disposal. Key to addressing the site's unique development issues safely and with brevity was a team of experts and consultants that educated crews and the public, Haeussler said.


Barring no major setbacks, Seaport San Diego could break ground in the next three to four years after completion of its California Environmental Quality Act analysis. But Gaffen and partners aren't waiting for development to test their ideas for the project's open spaces with fitness classes, events and more.


"We believe good design can build community," Gaffen said. "This is a legacy project, and we see this as giving back to San Diego."


As for Liberty Station, as it nears 95-percent completion and Arts District of Liberty Station celebrates its 10-year anniversary, the military station turned arts, business and cultural district continues to evolve.


"We are continuing to invent ourselves and what we will be in the next 10 years," Haeussen said.


Andrea Papagianis-Camacho is a consultant with TW2 Marketing who provides public relations support to CREW San Diego.



Collaboration Will Be Key For CREW-SD in 2018

By Carrie Rossenfeld | San Diego

Monday, December 18, 2017


SAN DIEGO—SAN DIEGO—Bringing in legacy members to help mentor and support newer and younger members is a goal of CREW San Diego, incoming president Bree Wong, with SWS Engineering, tells The San Diego chapter of Commercial Real Estate Women, which is dedicated to promoting, educating and supporting professionals in the field of commercial real estate, recently named its 2018 board of directors.


Under the board’s leadership, CREW San Diego hosts informative programming focused on economic growth and market trends and frequently includes speakers from some of San Diego’s largest and active companies sharing their plans for growth. CREW also hosts quarterly events dedicated to networking and business development. Additionally, CREW San Diego offers exclusive educational and professional development programs, including mentorship opportunities and candid conversations with successful commercial real estate professionals, as well as business to business deal-making.


The 2018 board will also have the special task of hosting the Global CREW Network Convention and Marketplace in October 2018, attracting thousands of commercial real estate professionals throughout the nation and beyond to the city and offering countless business, educational and networking opportunities.


We spoke with Wong about her goals with the organization in 2018 and the issues that are most prevalent for women in commercial real estate today. What are you goals in your new role with CREW San Diego?


Wong: We just last month held our transition meeting with the current board of directors and the incoming board. It was a half-day session when we went over where we are and where we want to be, getting input from people who are currently in these roles to help guide the people coming into those positions.


One of the things we will be doing is a formal strategic plan for the chapter. There are so many things people want to encompass. The overarching theme, however, was diversity—in all facets of gender, race and age. At CREW, our mission is to promote diversity in CRE, design and construction and support the success of women as equals in these fields. We have recently become aware that our membership is lacking the breadth of diversity that we wish to see. Though CREW represents commercial real estate “women,” it is not an exclusive women’s organization, nor do we wish to come across as excluding participation from men in the industry. In the long run, our hope is to not need to mention “women” in our name, but to be recognized as a premiere CRE professional organization which supports and benefits our membership no matter their color, gender or birthdate.


One way we will begin nurturing the diversification of our membership is by conducting more local, philanthropic activities, reaching out to local middle and high schools and getting engaged with the students there; planting the seed early on that architecture, engineering, construction, etc., are lucrative, viable careers attainable by anyone who wants to reach for them. To accomplish this, we are currently researching other local organizations, charities and schools to discuss partnerships and programming options.


Additionally, despite hosting our own panels and education presentations, we are aware that many of our programs have not included speakers representing the diversity of talented professionals in our industry that we know exists. To mitigate that, we plan to approach the development of our programming and panels more collaboratively, ensuring equal consideration of all qualified professionals rather than the candidate who may be most well-known or top of mind.


There’s a lot of mention of equality, making sure that the gender gap is being bridged, making it smaller and building awareness. There are far more men in C-suites and executive positions than women, and why is that? How can we make a shift and a change? Equal pay is part of that. I am advocating for actively doing a mentorship program, bringing in the more seasoned ladies who might not be as involved with CREW to help the newer ones. Also, CREW is now a global organization, and the annual network convention will be in San Diego in October 2018. High-level real estate professionals from around the globe will be here. There are lots of exciting things to show them, including startups and tours, and we’re working with the network board to get those planned out and give visitors a good snapshot of where San Diego is on that map. What are some of the issues the organization will be tackling in 2018?


Wong: Under my leadership, we will be tackling the issues facing CREW SD and many local CRE businesses such as strategic succession planning and helping promote women to more leadership roles. I believe identifying future leadership is pivotal for the success of any organization. The overarching success of these firms and their future leaders is contingent upon their professional preparedness and confidence to tackle future challenges. There are many recent studies on the key elements of a successful leader, and many point to emotional intelligence as an underrecognized quality. I think strong leaders have a clear north, and are able to relay that mission to the people around them in terms where people want to help achieve those same goals.


Also, as we’re all aware, there has been a lot of recent press on sexual harassment. Some of my male friends and clients have asked me whether our industry is subject to it as well. Bottom line: it is. Without imparting too much of my personal thoughts or experience into this topic, I believe that the potential for these situations will drastically decrease as the industry’s leadership further levels out. As more women enter the C-suite and secure executive leadership roles, I believe it will generate a subconscious shift in perception—that women are equal, qualified for complex roles and peers. Additionally, arming young women in our industry with a strong support network of successful women executives and encouraging confidence to pursue promotions and speak our minds will make feelings of inferiority obsolete, promoting the confidence to halt inappropriate behavior if and when it starts. Knowledge is power, and empowerment is important. I’m putting a strong emphasis on our mentorship program this coming year to help build a stronger support system and promote open dialogue between new and seasoned professionals working towards the common goal of equality. What are some of the biggest areas of concern for women in CRE today?


Wong: I think it’s going to be doing the local outreach to channel more women into this particular line of work, giving more recognition to and educating young girls and college students. I feel it’s important to get in front of them prior to selecting a degree and career path. What else should our readers know about women in CRE?


Wong: I’m really thrilled with our members. We’ve recently acquired new, high-level members from major local players, such as Illumina and Qualcomm, and are conducting personal outreach to expand the breadth of our membership to engage key female leaders to benefit from and contribute to our organization. The key decisionmakers are young and intelligent, and they’re excited to get involved. CREW members do a ton of B2B deals; there are at least two dozen deals each month where CREW members are referring business to each other. We want to promote an open and mutually beneficial network for all of our members, men and women alike. We want to give back, to be a resource when members are facing an issue in their company or even personally. We have a very supportive network of women; I’m beyond grateful for the group of clients, friends and colleagues I’ve found through my involvement with CREW and want to share that resource with everyone in our industry. CREW San Diego is growing into a positive, nurturing force in our local industry, and I believe we have the key leadership in place to continue our successes.



Wong: “Though CREW represents commercial real estate ‘women,’ it is not an exclusive women’s organization, nor do we wish to come across as excluding participation from men in the industry.”



Tiffany English Elected to National CREW Network Board

Friday, December 15, 2017


Tiffany English a member of CREW (Commercial Real Estate Women) San Diego, has become the first individual from an architectural design firm to join the national CREW Network board of directors. CREW Network is the industry’s premier business networking organization, with chapters in North America and Europe, dedicated to influencing the success of the commercial real estate industry by advancing the achievements of women.


English, a principal at Ware Malcomb, an architectural and interior design firm, will serve a two-year term, which began last month. CREW Network received over 90 applications for two available board seats.


“A natural trailblazer, Tiffany has made a habit of shattering ceilings; earning her place as a well-respected and inspirational CRE leader in San Diego’s local design and construction market,” said Bree Wong, incoming 2018 CREW San Diego president. “We were thrilled when she was named the first female design principal of Ware Malcomb, but she continues compounding on her successes with her recent appointment to the CREW Network Board. We couldn’t be more thrilled to have Tiffany representing the deep talent of CREW San Diego at the Network level. Expanding her reach from regional to international, she continues to pave the way and raise the bar for professional women in the commercial real estate, design and construction industry.”



FEMA Emergency Preparedness... Are You Ready?

Source:  FEMA


In light of the recent hurricane's, CREW San Diego is hopeful our members and our community will work to initiate emergency preparedness for their homes and businesses.


The below FEMA publication is an excellent resource guide that has been designed to help the citizens of this nation learn how to protect themselves and their families against all types of hazards.



No Piece Is Too Small- Illumina's Workplace Strategy

Source:  American Builders Quarterly

By: Kelsey E. Ingram

June 2017


Everyone grumbles when it comes to moving desks at the office—stacks of papers, photos, and knickknacks all have to find their way from one area to another. Why can’t everything stay as is? As Illumina’s Jenny Durbin explains, each employee’s placement is a carefully considered piece in a puzzle to optimize company performance.


Many stories in American Builders Quarterly tend to deal with company growth, particularly when it comes to constructing (and expanding) the spaces in which employees work. And why not? Each project is unique and never seems to go exactly to plan—something that doesn’t seem to faze the knowledgeable executives featured cover to cover in each of our issues. But once the walls are up, isn’t the construction phase over? Not according to Jenny Durbin.


“We need to know how these spaces are being used, and match what we design with the business needs and the expectations and needs of those that use that space,” Durbin explains.


The manager of global facilities and innovative workplace at Illumina—a genomics company that researches and develops life science tools—is responsible for not only configuring square footage and site planning, but also for the minute details of an internal work space, such as furniture, conference rooms, and even seating charts. Essentially, she says, her job is a giant jigsaw puzzle, one in which she has to figure out how each of these elements fits into the others.


In an interview with ABQ, Durbin spoke about the data and psychology behind Illumina’s recent projects and how a bit of foresight can further company success.


The Illumina Look


Part of any Illumina project, Durbin says, is working to serve the clients, who are fellow Illumina employees. When it came to reconfiguring the company’s Cambridge, United Kingdom, locations into one site, Durbin and her team knew there would need to be some compromise on the final result. “We were working with a prescribed budget, requirements for each department, and leadership expectations to create the EMEA Headquarters for Illumina,” she says, “which caused us to struggle with the balance of budget, design, and providing essential lab space.”


As it turns out, this was possibly the most challenging aspect of the project for her team because they were shifting from four buildings that totaled 78,000 square feet to one master campus of 155,000 square feet of lab and office space. They also needed a design to accommodate the company’s five-year growth projections. With these numbers in mind, Durbin then collected the head count projections and applied a square footage multiplier (based on internal and industry benchmarking) to calculate how many square feet each person would require.


But numbers aren’t the only factor when it comes to consolidation—culture needs to come into play as well.


“Unlike office cultures in the United States, where they want collaborative spaces integrated throughout, offices in the United Kingdom prefer to have a focused section of collaborative spaces that remain separate from private workspaces,” Durbin explains.


Read More




Top Commercial Real Estate Leaders Darcy Miramontes


After earning a law degree from Loyola Law School, Miramontes fully intended to practice law. But once she began working with her mother, an industry veteran in commercial real estate, her career took off fast. She was named Rookie of the Year by her company just a few years after starting as a runner.


As it turns out, a background in law has helped Miramontes develop a successful career as a real estate broker.


"I have a good perspective on contract negotiations," she said. "I can understand where the attorneys are coming from, but I also understand from a broker or deal perspective what could be set aside and what really needs to be negotiated."


Today, Miramontes leads JLL's Southern California multifamily team in San Diego and Orange counties and the Inland Empire. She represents institutional and private clients in the valuation, marketing and disposition of multifamily properties and development land. She has completed $1.6 billion in multifamily transactions, representing more than 13,000 units of multifamily housing.


While limited land and a constrained pipeline present a challenge to the county's housing needs, Miramontes said those factors are driving the fundamentals of the market, which she said will remain strong this year.


Miramontes and her team will be taking Broadstone Coronado on the Bay to the market in June. The remodeled, 549-unit apartment complex is located on the waterfront of Coronado Island.


"It's a great core-plus opportunity in a highly sought-after submarket in San Diego that underwent renovation and has great fundamentals," she said. She is also working on an upcoming development opportunity for the mixed-use Courthouse Commons. San Diego County is looking for a developer to re-envision and redevelop three city blocks downtown.


Miramontes is a member of Commercial Real Estate Women (also known as CREW San Diego), the Urban Land Institute Women's Leadership Initiative Committee, JLL Women's Network, and the JLL Latino Employee Resource Network.



40 Under 40- Ashley Gosal

By: Jennifer McEntee

Wednesday, April 19, 2017


As the in-house legal counsel for real estate developer Bosa Development, Gosal sometimes can't help but notice she's the only woman in the boardroom. And at 29, she's also sometimes the youngest.


"It's difficult to be a woman, particularly in real estate. There's a general bias in our society as to women's capabilities, focus and intent," Gosal said. "I have found it to be difficult, but I haven't focused on that. You have to know who you are as a person and push a little harder. You dig in your heels a little more."


Gosal's education and experience are all the credentials she needs. She has a law degree from University of San Diego and a bachelor of commerce degree from The University of British Columbia. Since joining Bosa in 2015, she's overseen the company's legal requirements on projects including the purchase and entitlement of the downtown San Diego block bordered by Broadway, 7th, 8th and C streets, and on Bosa-acquired properties at 10th and Market, 530 B Street, and 401 Mile of Cars in National City.


In the community, Gosal serves on executive committee of the Downtown San Diego Partnership board; as co-chair of the Urban Land Institute's Women's Leadership Initiative; on the Monarch School board of directors; as a member of Commercial Real Estate Women San Diego; and as a member of two Building Industry Association San Diego committees.


Gosal said she feels fortunate to have found a niche that allows her to use her real estate and business acumen, while working for a company with worthy mentors and offices in both San Diego and her native Canada.



40 Under 40- Carly Glova

By: Jennifer McEntee

Wednesday, April 19, 2017


After a decade in commercial real estate finance, including as an associate with San Diego's BioMed Realty Trust, Glova said she did some soul-searching.


"My heart was never in it. I didn't want to jump out of bed to get to a job in finance," said Glova.


She knew she loved the commercial real estate industry and making connections between people.


"No one was serving the industry as far as recruiting," she said.


So she founded executive search firm Building Careers LLC two years ago as San Diego's first dedicated hiring resource for the local commercial real estate industry. Glova estimates she's played matchmaker for about 30 companies and more than 1,000 job candidates.


"Companies know they can pick up the phone and say they're looking for a candidate at any level, at any salary. I have a pretty deep network," said Glova.


She is Building Careers LLC's only employee, but she works closely with two contractors to match companies with prospective candidates.


Glova stays connected with the local business community by volunteering for a number of organizations. She was a former board member for Commercial Real Estate Women and the Urban Land Institute's Young Leaders Group and the membership vice president for NAIOP San Diego's Toastmasters Club and serves on its Developing Leaders board. She's also active with outreach organizations like Going Places Network and Dress for Success.


Glova said her age is an asset in her recruiting, since she's young enough to know how difficult the job market can be right out of college, and experienced enough to know what businesses want.


"It's great to bring my perspective to the table," she said. "My clients appreciate my understanding of their business and appreciate the level of folks I'm targeting."



How to succeed in (real estate) business

By: Anne Benge

Tuesday, April 18, 2017


Gina Champion-Cain, a well-known San Diego real estate developer, investor and restauranteur, surprised the audience at a recent Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW) San Diego presentation by admitting to being a strong introvert. Who better than someone who finds "working a room" to be out of her comfort zone to advise others about a winning formula for business success?


As CEO of American National Investments, a retail, office and hospitality development firm, and owner of LuvSurf, a multi-faceted real estate, hospitality and branded merchandise company, Champion-Cain has created significant commercial and residential buildings as well as signature restaurants, a vacation rental business, a coffee roasting company, an apparel brand and more.


As the featured speaker at the CREW Legacy Member-exclusive event, Champion-Cain focused on the role of creativity as a pillar of her success. The mental exercises she experienced through her philosophy major at University of Michigan, she said, as well as with her studies in law school, has been far more useful to her in business than her MBA. Creative and critical thinking has helped her recognize what an opportunity could be rather than just taking it at face value.


Having a diverse educational background, or even one that's just different from many of your peers, can be leveraged as an advantage. She challenges those who work for her to come with solutions, not problems, and advised the audience to "start off the conversation with 'I have a solution' before you even say there is a problem."


Champion-Cain also recommended letting go of fear -- particularly -- the fear of failing. She told the audience that she always knew she would be able to make money, whether that required waitressing or developing a building. Confidence is there for the taking, and she said that self-confidence has been her most important asset in business. Don't succumb to peer pressure or self-doubt, she advised.


Seeking out the right mentors can also bolster your confidence and help gain a new perspective. When Champion-Cain once asked one of her mentors about leadership, he confided that the secret to his success was surrounding himself with people smarter than him.


He also told her to lead with what she knows. For example, his strength was in relationships rather than financials, sales or other aspects of business. Accordingly, he made sure to leverage his interpersonal skills to achieve the goals he had for the company.


For Champion-Cain, leveraging her creativity and curiosity has served her well and guided many business decisions. She wants to be excited about her investments, and knowing and caring about her business ventures has led to making sound investment decisions as well as gaining more control over her money than she might have through a conventional retirement account. "Know where your money is," she recommended.


Another part of her winning formula for business success? Hard work. "I've worked like a dog," she said. Her hard work has been well recognized with many achievement awards and even a "Gina Champion-Cain Day" reserved by a former San Diego mayor. CREW San Diego, along with many others San Diegans, is excited to see what Champion-Cain has in store for the future.


Anne Benge is CEO of Cultura and a CREW San Diego Legacy member.



CREW San Diego Announces New Board of Directors

Friday, February 24, 2017


CREW (Commercial Real Estate Women) San Diego recently announced its 2017 board of directors, which will be led by Catherine Hughes, of Ware Malcomb, as president.


Other board members will be Lauren Slatinsky, of Pacific Building Group, as first vice president - membership; Hallie Putterman, of Bentley Mills, as second vice president -- sponsorship, Dawn Watson, of LevitZacks, as treasurer; Ariel Bedell, of The Loftin Firm, as secretary; Bre'an Fox, of FS Design Group, as director of education and programs; Bryal Wirth, of Heaviland, and Maura Young, of Pacific Rim Mechanical, as directors of marketing communications; Melissa Scofield, of the San Diego Business Journal, as director of special events; Wendy Lanahan, of Qualcomm, as a national delegate; Toni McMahon, of Fuscoe Engineering, as a foundation delegate and Jackie Isidore, of Johnson & Jennings, as past president.



Catherine Hughes



Influential Women

Wednesday, February 22, 2017


Debra Aitken

For many years, Aitken served as assistant vice president at California Bank & Trust, where she oversaw a portfolio of 25 bank branches along with numerous corporate headquarters and office properties. She was involved with several commercial real estate associations for networking and developing business. She also previously worked in contract furniture.


After surviving cancer, Aitken felt like anything was possible and didn't want to let any experience pass her by. She decided to follow her interest in commercial real estate and in 2014 made a career change.


Aitken now provides project and construction management for capital improvement projects and tenant improvement projects for Cushman & Wakefield. Recently, she helped Regent Properties, a major Los Angeles-based real estate investment trust, reposition Atlas at Carlsbad, a 250,000-square-foot, multimillion-dollar office property.


The project entailed a major renovation of splitting the building into two separate parts, in addition to managing meticulous storm water control strategies and working closely with the city of Carlsbad.


She has been an active member of CREW Network San Diego since 1999, and served as its president in 2003 and 2009. Last year, she joined the CREW Network Foundation Chapter Champions, identifying and sharing best practices in scholarships, industry research and career outreach. This year she will serve as a CREW Network committee member, focusing on membership education platforms nationally.


"CREW promotes professional opportunities for women in the commercial real estate industry -- an industry where women are still underrepresented," Aitken said. "The spirit of collaboration runs strong through our membership, and we're always looking for opportunities to help each other succeed ... It's a very empowering organization."


Jennifer Litwak

Litwak runs Housing on Merit, which develops and manages affordable housing properties. The nonprofit also provides education and wellness services, along with job and life skills training for residents.


After a stint as a litigator, Litwak transitioned into public policy work and advocacy, consulting on issues related to affordable housing and homelessness. In 2013, she joined HOM, which now has 12 properties with over 2,150 units across California, serving more than 5,375 residents.


Since it generates revenue through its properties, HOM is not dependent on government funding, Litwak said. This allows the organization to be more nimble and responsive to the needs of its communities. In San Diego, for example, HOM has responded to the growing number of homeless female veterans by launching a program to provide funds to help them establish permanent housing.


Litwak said the most rewarding aspect of her job is having a lasting impact on people's lives. She also hopes to do that through her work with the national CREW Network, helping to provide statistics on the advancement of women in commercial real estate.


"As a woman in this industry, being part of that organization and elevating the conversation around gender bias and barriers ... is one of the most impactful things I can do," she said.


"CREW promotes professional opportunities for women in the commercial real estate industry -- an industry where women are still underrepresented," Aitken said. "The spirit of collaboration runs strong through our membership, and we're always looking for opportunities to help each other succeed ... It's a very empowering organization."


Toni McMahon

McMahon manages all Fuscoe Engineering Inc.'s business development, marketing and public relations for the San Diego region.


She recently took on the role of campaign manager for Fuscoe Regional Director Eric Armstrong as he ran for a division director position with his local water district. While he lost by a slim margin, McMahon said the exposure was positive for Armstrong and will lead to future opportunities. For her, the experience was both challenging and rewarding.


"I consider it an accomplishment," she said. "This experience had all the elements that motivate me: Supporting and rallying behind an individual I believe in, debate, hard work, planning, marketing, pounding the pavement, deadlines and excitement."


A marketing leader, McMahon has shared her expertise by serving with a number of industry organizations, including the Downtown San Diego Partnership, the Urban Land Institute, the Building Industry Association of San Diego and as marketing director for CREW Network's San Diego chapter.


While these organizations do important work for both men and women in the industry, she said advocating for the advancement of women is personal for her. McMahon has a smart, ambitious daughter and wants nothing to stop her from achieving her potential.


"Professionally, it is crucial that diversity exists at our decision-making tables so that different ideas, perspectives and opinions are shared and considered," she said. "It takes a diverse group to create the most amazing and unique solutions. A group that excludes a gender is lopsided and shortsighted."



What 2017 portends for commercial real estate women

By Teresa Y. Warren

Friday, February 3, 2017


The Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW) San Diego hosted its annual economic insights forum in January, which provided an expert's opinion as to what may be ahead for the U.S. and international economies.


This year's speaker was Spencer Levy, Americas Head of Research for CBRE and a senior member of the company's global research team. It was the second year that Mr. Levy, based in Baltimore, appeared at the forum to speak to a San Diego audience about a variety of issues of particular importance to the commercial real estate industry.


Mr. Levy's presentation was thought-provoking. And while predictions of experts like Mr. Levy may not always turn out to be correct, the information they present challenges their audience to think critically.


As anyone who attends such events knows, the value of the presentation isn't just found in what the speaker says. Rather, it is what the attendees do with the information they received that has lasting impact.


Taylor Flores, vice president of Cultura, a furniture management and facilities design company, gained a new perspective about how she looks at workforce production rates, based on Mr. Levy's observation that overall production rates are down in the workforce due to lack of innovation.


"Our (current day) innovations such as apps, Uber, Airbnb, etc. are currently taking a piece of the pie, not making the pie larger," said Flores. "I thought that was really interesting, and while I'm not personally an engineer who can 'do' anything with that, it definitely made me look at things differently."


Levy also predicted a likely downturn in the U.S. economy in 2019 lasting up to two years. For Lisa Chappelle, vice president of facilities management for Mission Federal Credit Union, that was better news than she anticipated.


"I plan to center on 'recession proofing' my team by focusing on leadership, strategy and all that our team has to offer our organization in good times and bad," said Chapelle. "We'll be stepping up the PR of our workgroup, emphasizing our contributions and concentrating on advancing our skills, experience and education."


Bryal Hilton, design and development planner for Heaviland Landscape Management, is similarly looking ahead optimistically. She is preparing, both professionally and personally, for smart growth. "With a 'small' recession predicted, focus your business toward services and not goods," she says. "Take this time to really focus on what makes you stand out."


At Burger Construction, COO Brian Gates thinks Mr. Levy's insights can help his business in its planning and forecasting, particularly the CBRE researcher's "suggestion of closely watching consumer sentiment indices as a leading indicator of a recession." As with most businesses, said Gates, "we pay close attention to where we are in the economic cycle, and this information will support us in our cycle strategy."


For Natalie Stillman, CFP, CLTC, vice present of financial planning for Hall Private Wealth Advisors, Levy's outlook on a recession also made an impact. "I thought it was interesting how he said it would be better for us to suffer another recession than not go through another one," she said.


"He seemed to feel this was a normal part of a business cycle and expansion would follow. I think we tend to fear the word 'recession,' based on the recent Great Recession, and yet his perspective is that this is a healthy thing."


Flores also took to interest in Levy's advice to detach from the idea of your company selling a product or good because those who sell goods will be at a disadvantage. "Mr. Levy emphasized the need to focus on the overall concept of service versus goods, as goods are a commodity and can be much more affected by political changes, globalization and the economy," she said.


"Our company just went through a major rebranding," Flores added, "to be able to focus on offering just that -- an overall service experience versus selling goods. I think it's something that basically every company can do if they refocus and re-evaluate how they operate."


Teresa Y. Warren is president of TW2 Marketing, which she founded in 1992.




CREW Giving Guide (Click Image to Enlarge)

CREW Network

1201 Wakarusa Drive, Ste. D

Lawrence, KS 66049

p 785.832.1808

f 785.832.1551

CREW San Diego

Donna Schweitzer

Chapter Administrator

(760) 855-4983




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