The commercial real estate industry has historically been viewed
as a male-dominated world. However, in the present day, I would
challenge that view. Women have a valuable voice and role in the
industry and yield power, reasoning and influence, just like their
male counterparts. Commercial real estate is an ideal environment for collaboration, and professionals who focus on their
strengths can bring different perspectives to the table, which is
the key element of achieving teamwork and results.
I moved to Sarasota, FL in 1999, after spending a number of
years as the owner of a hotel on Martha’s Vineyard and being
involved in various independent real
estate projects. Given this experience, moving to the sales side of the
industry felt like a natural transition.
I started my
2000 with a national brokerage firm,
moving to their commercial division
almost immediately. In 2009, I joined
Ian Black Real Estate, a leading local
commercial brokerage firm, and recognized that this was the company with which I wanted to grow
my business. In 2016, I became a partner of the firm.
Commercial real estate is about taking on projects: determining the right use for a property, rezoning a property for future
use or establishing the value-add aspect to increase a property’s
occupancy, as a few examples. What I enjoy about commercial
real estate is it requires using a wide lens and perseverance to
make all the pieces come together. I find that women have an
innate ability to visualize the larger picture and a knack for managing moving parts. Women have a sense of perspective that adds
to the commercial real estate conversation.
Managing the various relationships involved in a transaction is
another aspect of working in this business. There are times when
negotiations come to a halt and the parties are ready to walk
away. This is the time I step back, listen to the requirements of
both sides and assess the situation from a neutral perspective. I
evaluate all angles in order to find a solution. Most women have
strong listening skills and are adept at managing relationships,
and I find these traits are extremely valuable in this industry.
It’s true that there are more men than women in the com-
mercial real estate industry. Yet rather than viewing this as an
obstacle, I look at it as an opportunity to provide a different
perspective. In my experience, learning as much as you can,
working toward your goals and doing your absolute best work
can help you perceive every “obstacle” as a potential learning
Your strengths are your assets, and they help drive your pas-
sion. It’s always good to ask yourself questions to find where your
potential lies. What do you enjoy? In what situations do you feel
most confident? Look at your strengths and work to develop
them. Observe others that excel in those areas and learn from
them. There are so many resources available, whether it’s a
course, a seminar, a mentor or an organization. Explore these
resources and use them to your advantage.
Search for a work environment that recognizes and values your
strengths, and contributes to your professional growth. I feel very
fortunate that Ian Black Real Estate has a unique collaborative
approach with a highly competent team of professionals that are
immensely supportive of one another.
When trying to find your right fit, be very honest with yourself
about what you need from a company. What kind of environment
are you looking for? What level of support do you need in areas
that are important to you? Pay attention to how collaborative the
office setup is and how team members communicate with each
other—all can be good indicators of what to expect if you were to
join the company.
I’m fortunate in that I’ve never felt the discrepancy in the
number of men versus women in our field to be an obstacle. I
believe in finding what you love to do, honing your strengths
and using your resources—with all these in place, the “
obstacles” will reveal the opportunities. ◆
By Michele Fuller
Focusing on Strengths
It’s true that there are
more men than women in
commercial real estate.
Yet rather than viewing this
as an obstacle, I look at it
as an opportunity to provide
a different perspective.
Michele Fuller is a partner at Ian Black Real Estate. She may be
contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or (941) 906-8688 ext. 104.
The views expressed here are the author’s own.