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Real Estate Forum’s Women of Influence: Joanne Podell

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In part four of our #cwWomenatWork blog series honoring our Real Estate Forum’s Women of Influence, we feature Joanne Podell, Executive Vice Chairman, Retail Services. Joanne is a repeat honoree for this award and is one of the most respected retail brokers in New York City.

Joanne Podell has been with Cushman & Wakefield for almost 15 years, and she is one of the most respected and hardest working retail brokerage professionals in the commercial real estate industry. In her 25-plus years of commercial real estate experience, she has specialized in both tenant and landlord representation in retail lease negotiations throughout Manhattan. Joanne was Cushman & Wakefield’s Top Producer globally in 2016, and is consistently honored as one of Cushman’s top ten U.S. brokers across all service lines. Joanne has brokered some of the most significant deals in New York City including bringing Nike to 650 Fifth Avenue, for which she won the Real Estate Board of New York’s Retail Deal of the Year Award in 2017.

In addition to her incredibly successful brokerage career, Joanne has acted as a champion for women and young professionals in the commercial real estate industry. Mentorship is a top priority for Ms. Podell, and she is constantly working with her team to make sure they are always prepared, challenge themselves daily and truly understand the business. She is extremely inclusive with all employees on her team, bringing them into media interviews, new business pitches, deal closings or a client meetings to offer learning opportunities and to assist young professionals in developing their skills.

“My motto is ‘do good to do well,’ and I believe giving back to colleagues, clients and the community is key in becoming a successful business person,” Joanne says. “That is why mentorship is a top priority for me. Our people are our strength, and supporting the men and women starting in the industry is incredibly important.”

We spoke to Joanne to share her thoughts on diversity in commercial real estate, her personal and professional goals and leadership advice.

In what unique ways are women impacting in the CRE Industry?

In retail specifically, women are making a huge impact on the commercial real estate industry as they make the family purchase decisions majority of the time. In a recent study in Harvard Business Review called “The Female Economy,” researchers show that globally, women control about $20 trillion in annual consumer spending. Women make 94 percent of home furnishings decisions, 91 percent of home purchases, 60 percent of automobile purchases, and 51 percent of consumer electronics purchases. Landlords and tenants in commercial real estate are starting to realize the impact women make on the success of their commercial real estate decisions, and are recognizing the need for their point of view and expertise.

How can companies benefit from women in leadership roles? How do you feel about the steps the CRE Industry has taken to promote diversity?

Having women in leadership positions is expedient and industries are beginning to realize the value that women bring to business. Women offer alternative perspectives that can be incredibly valuable to clients. Additionally, many clients and potential clients have diversity requirements at their companies, so if commercial real estate firms have female leaders, it shows they share the same key values.

There are more opportunities for women in the industry today than ever before, and I think as a female leader in the industry, it is important to do what I can to nurture future female leaders and support young women in the industry.

What words of advice do you have for women starting out in CRE?

My advice is to understand and accept that success in this business is a long term play. Though it may seem at times that you can find quick success, this industry is built on relationships and the best relationships withstand over time. If you are a realistic young professional with fortitude, you can succeed.

Additionally, it is important to push yourself to learn more and work harder each day. If you are not pushing yourself to be better and learn more, someone else in the workforce is, and you will miss great opportunities if you remain complacent.

Looking forward, what are some unrealized goals you continue to pursue?

For me, if I don’t learn something every day, it’s a failure. The industry is always evolving, and it is important to keep up with and stay informed of these changes. In particular, one of my goals is to be ahead of the curve when it comes to technology. Big data, artificial intelligence and mobile apps provide brokers with speedy access to information and are helping to make brokers more efficient. Being aware and learning how to use these new, more efficient platforms effectively to best service our clients is definitely an important goal of mine.

What are some important trends in commercial real estate that you think people aren’t talking enough about?

In retail specifically, I think the industry doesn’t realize that what they are seeing as a negative is actually a positive. People aren’t discussing the confluence of ecommerce and bricks-and-mortar and how they are actually synergistic. The media is so focused on how the growth of ecommerce will negatively affect the future of brick-and-mortar, but the truth is that ecommerce is fueling a new brick-and-mortar experience. Ecommerce is bringing new tenants to the market at a rapid pace. When ecommerce brands mature, they open brick-and-mortar locations, and these two retail strategies work together to best serve consumers. This is a positive evolution for the retail commercial real estate industry.

Headshot_J Podell Women of InfluenceJoanne Podell has 25 years of commercial real estate experience, specializing in both tenant and landlord representation, and serves as the first and sole Executive Vice Chairman for Retail Services at Cushman & Wakefield. A three-time recipient of the prestigious REBNY “Deal of the Year” award, Ms. Podell continues to solidify her reputation as one of the most respected retail brokers in New York City. She was declared Cushman & Wakefield’s 2016 global top broker, the first time a retail broker has been the sole recipient of the recognition, and was named Cushman & Wakefield’s overall top retail broker in the United States for both 2014 and 2015.

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