I remember my first day of kindergarten. My short, dark hair cut in a pixie, a plaid blue dress with a Peter Pan collar, and my black patent Mary Janes worn with white ankle socks. I was so excited to be going to school like my older sisters. It was a short walk down one block and over one block. But it was at the “big kids” school, as in a rural town at that time we had only one school for every student from kindergarten to 12th grade. I was looking forward to being with other kids and learning.
I remember my first day of high school, dressed in my favorite hip hugger bell bottoms. It was the 70s and I thought I looked very hip. My square-necked smock top was the right mix of hippie chic and school girl, matching perfectly to my aqua blue pants. I recall thinking my hair looked just like Farrah Faucett’s flip. Didn’t we all look so fun back then!?
And I remember my first day of college, pulling up in my dad’s van overloaded with everything that I could not leave behind as I began my life journey. It was the 80s now and I had on army green pants with a collared shirt. My hair was curly Q from my most recent perm. I thought it looked fabulous! And I remember the first guy that spoke to me. His nickname was “Cuban,” and he was the RA that was checking everyone in.
There are moments in our lives that stay with us and create a space in our life journey that is forever cherished. That is exactly how I felt at my first CREW Network Convention and Marketplace. The energy of convention is indescribable. I was recently talking to a member about this and we agreed we had both been to many conventions, but the feel and engagement of a CREW Network convention is quite unique.
I will not likely remember the suit I wore or my hairstyle, but I will remember the fantastic women I met, the insightful speakers I heard, and the warmth I received as I met over 1,200 CREW members from North America and the United Kingdom. It was frenetic and engaging, it was educational and informative and it was the perfect mix of business networking, reconnecting with colleagues and meeting new potential business partners. There was truly a spark each day and a brilliant glow around the amazing women who achieve great things and raise the stature of women in commercial real estate.
(l-r) Wendy Mann, Krista Capp and Tamara Knapp, 2017 Economic and Community Improvement Impact Award winners, and Barbi Reuter, 2017 CREW Network Recognition Committee Chair
Some of my favorite moments included watching our honorees be recognized for the wonderful deals they have made working with one another and in their communities as I realized the success our members are having in the industry. Meeting the CREW Network past presidents was such a delight to put names with faces and hear some of their favorite stories and commentary on how much has changed. Meeting with members in my Conversation Corner and learning what’s on members' minds and how we can collaborate to support the success of our members and chapters was a terrific way to get more in-depth insight into our Network.
I was thrilled and proud to hear Claire Roberts (above) announce our most recent white paper, Diversity: The Business Advantage. This report is a first start at identifying and sharing best practices for diversity in commercial real estate. Our benchmark studies have identified the issues and challenges, however, this white paper is the first time we identify the solutions and provide examples that others can follow or make their own. Another first!
Finally, watching Alison Beddard (above) hand off the baton after an amazingly successful year filled with transition and disruption that led to greater achievement than we thought possible was a significant moment for me as she was my first president and partner in leadership for CREW Network. That will be a bond we always share.
Looking forward, I am excited about future firsts that we will accomplish together. Our members and chapters are engaged and committed to one another and to the mission of CREW Network to influence the success of the industry by advancing women into c-suite and board roles. Together, we will also work to fill the pipeline with future leaders and expand globally to give members greater access to business opportunities and potential partners. I look forward to sharing many more firsts with you.
Wendy Mann is the chief executive officer of Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW) Network and president of the CREW Network Foundation.
Click here to read more CREW View posts.