EYE ON THE FUTURE
Working to change the commercial real
estate landscape also requires planning for
its future. “We can’t advance women in the
industry, if we don’t have more women in
the industry,” says Mann. She predicts a
shift in the industry in the next five to
seven years, as male baby boomers retire.
CREW is poised to fill the need with highly
qualified talent by building a pipeline of
The CREW Network Foundation administers the scholarship program. Local chapters run CREW Careers, the real estate
programs for female high school students,
and UCREW, the events promoting commercial real estate careers for female students ar the university level.
Auja Little, a senior analyst at Washington
REIT in DC, graduated from the University
of North Carolina at Charlotte in 2015. She
received a $5,000 CREW Network scholarship for her senior year. It helped fund
tuition and books. It also provided free registration for the global convention, and
paid her membership fee for the organization’s local Charlotte chapter.
Little majored in finance and had
worked for a private equity company and a
healthcare real estate firm. However, she
found the professional association’s men-
torship invaluable in focusing her goals.
She met Liz Ward, VP of multifamily development at Charlotte Mecklenburg
Housing Partnership, and Adrienne Bain,
VP at Citizens Bank and now the president
of CREW Charlotte. Both helped her network and figure out the real estate world.
Citing CREW Charlotte’s support, dur-
ing her job search Little bounced off ideas
with people who had already been there
and understood her experiences. “I appre-
ciated working with Liz and really connect-
ing with Adrienne whom I still speak with
today as a real mentor and role model for
achievement in real estate.”
Piurko recalls when she was in high
school, she had no idea about career
options in commercial real estate. CREW
Careers provides information to young
girls before they make decisions about
where to go to college. UCREW then
reaches out to universities to organize
events and panel discussions and to involve
women in the CREW network. The schol-
arship programs are for both undergradu-
ate and graduate students.
Mann says the foundation reaches out
to young people while they are still formu-
lating their ideas about what they want to
do with their professional lives. It helps
them transition from student life into the
working work. The programs also teaches
young people hands-on how commercial
real estate is about building communities.
Little describes her passion for real
estate as something tangible to touch and
see. “We all stay in hotels. We all work in
offices. We all live in residential buildings
or homes,” she says. “Real estate is your life
and to know that I can be on the forefront
of what a city is going to look like and how
it’s going to change, change the environment or how it’s going to affect people, I
think is such an amazing thing to be a part
of. And that’s what I love about real estate.”
She’s a member of CREW Washington,
DC. Little serves as a CREW Network committee chair, doing volunteer outreach to
universities and assisting with collecting
donations for the foundation.
To date, the foundation has awarded 126
scholarships totaling $860,000. Its educational programs are further explored in the
feature article, “CREW in Training:
Education and Scholarships,” beginning
on the next page. ◆
In addition to the work it has been doing since its inception, the CREW
Network has set its sights on achieving a number of aspirations in the near
future. Here are three of its major priorities.
Tech for the Greater Good: CREW aspires to be the leading organization
for creating a pipeline of gender, racial and ethnic diversity. The foundation
has the infrastructure and financial support in place to carry forward its
initiatives says Mann.
In January 2019, CREW will be launching a new internship website for
young women and people of color seeking work in commercial real estate.
“We’ll be partnering with sponsor members to list internship opportunities and
partnering with universities to get diverse people into positions of internships,
so they can start building their careers.”
A greater emphasis on technology will further build on the success of the
CREWbiz online platform. Mann says it already is a “huge conduit for dealmak-
ing among our members.”
As the Internet has become integral to almost all aspects of life, the organi-
zation is continuing to extend its uses in creative ways. CREW recently joined
other industry organizations in launching CareersBuildingCommunities.com.
The new website provides information to people exploring CRE careers.
Global Growth: In the upcoming year the organization plans to push for
greater global expansion. It will undertake a global mission to the UK where
it launched an affiliate last year, Mann indicates. It hopes to grow its presence in the UK, and will also explore forming a Mexico City affiliate.
Plans to step toward a greater global footprint resulted from listening to
what members want and evaluating where the industry is going. “We all know
that land is local but businesses more and more each day are global,” says
Piurko. “Industry partners such as Oxford, Deloitte, Colliers, Cushman, CBRE—
they all have a global imprint.” Expansion would mean greater business opportunities for CREW members.
Welcoming More Men: Currently, approximately 3% of CREW’s membership
is comprised of men. But CREW wants to change that. Mann says men and
women working together is the way to level the playing field, with more women
holding CRE jobs and achieving pay parity. “So any men who are in the industry
who advocate for advancing women are more than welcome to support our
mission and to participate in the organization,” she says.
Piurko also encourages more men to join CREW. “We need to have executive men at the table because they are part of this industry. They, like many of
our high-ranking women, are decision makers in this industry,” she says. “It’s
important that we have more men at the table in terms of industry partnerships.” In other words, they can bring more CRE opportunities for women.
The network’s upcoming anniversary can be seen as a reason to celebrate its success, as the organization serves as a lighthouse for women in
real estate. But it won’t stop there. Mann envisions an all-inclusive organization in the next 30 years as signaling across the oceans and in many
countries. She believes CREW will continue to grow and evolve and will
offer a place to find business deals, leadership development and a network
of teammates for years to come.