Rhonda Diaz Caldewey is a Managing Director with Cushman & Wakefield’s Retail Services in San Francisco. For more than 25 years, Rhonda has provided expertise to urban retailers, restaurants, hospitality, mixed-use, leisure travel, and entertainment centers. Her assignments include several high profile projects such as the Golden State Warriors Chase Center, 300 Grant, City Center Bishop Ranch, Ritz Carlton, as well as adaptive re-use projects such as the Historic Pier 70, and Piers 1.5 to 5. She has also completed an impressive list of significant restaurant and entertainment transactions on behalf of clients throughout the country. Her vision to see trends and identify cutting edge concepts has serviced growing retailers and enhanced properties. Rhonda is a consistent company top producer, and is a multi-winner of San Francisco Business Time’s prestigious Most Influential Women award and was inaugurated into their Forever Influential Hall for 2017. She is also a former Bisnow Real Estate Woman of the Year. Currently, Rhonda serves as Chair for the SF Bay Area Chapter for C&W’s Women’s Integrative Network initiative. She also took part in a recent mentoring workshop called Bizwomen Mentoring Monday, hosted by the Business Journals. Join us as we talk more with Rhonda in honor of Women’s History Month:
What does Women’s History Month mean to you why is it important that we celebrate?
Many of us have stories of women in our families and or inner-circle that tolerated unbelievable hardship to pass on a better world to the next generation. Big and small, these stories need to be heard and remembered.
Women are able to pursue professional careers and recognition because of others standing up to promote diversity and equal opportunity in the workplace. My great grandmother raised two children on her own after her husband abandoned the family in the dead of winter. She forged ahead fighting for land that others tried to take from her, and left a legacy of perseverance and determination. They even named a street after her!
History teaches and reminds us of those who paved a way, inspiring us to continue to pursue better education, opportunity and financial recognition. Their work is not completed, and we need to continue to carry this torch forward toward bettering gender equality, pay and opportunity.
How important is it that women, particularly young women, have not only mentors but role models in the CRE industry to learn and grow from?
Very important. As intelligent as one can be, there is not one person who knows everything. Wisdom and insight passed on from the right mentors is often more relevant than taking a course or reading a book. Without a mentor, formal or informal, too many lessons reveal themselves in hindsight, instead of in the moment needed to perform at your best.
By the way, with the multi-generational workforce of today mentorship is a two way street. My friend and best-selling author Chip Conley calls it “menternship” in his book Wisdom at Work — meaning that no matter what our age, we are mentors and interns at the same time.
In one sentence, what is one message or piece of advice you learned you would share with these women?
Surround yourself with positive people. Habitual complainers and naysayers are always looking for new recruits—don’t take the bait! Some days are definitely hard, but having a can-do attitude makes all the difference in the world to persevere, in real estate and most certainly in life.
What does it mean to you to empower women?
Empowered women have the self-confidence, financial control, power and inner drive to influence and be a force of change despite the challenges and obstacles before them.
Are there any myths or stereotypes when it comes to the CRE industry that you feel are untrue or need to be tuned out when it comes to a person’s gender?
I think the myth that if we create awareness around diversity and gender equality, then somehow this alone will create enough momentum to create real change. For instance, at WIN, we are aware that working within a silo of a women-only group is probably not the best course to make inroads. The next phase in gender equality is for men to actively participate. In some of our past events, men have expressed that they want to see more gender equality in the workplace, but they don’t know how to help. Not knowing what to do is a problem and the reason our events are open to all to participate is to collectively create change. Many of my colleagues with daughters in the workplace are becoming more aware of the advancement consideration challenges women continue face.
What are some of your favorite enjoyable hobbies outside the office?
Dance, yoga, exercise, music and art. I love learning new things. This year it’s paddle-boarding. Recently, I signed up for two great online courses at Oxford University on philosophy and the history of modern art. It’s fascinating and good dinner conversation.
Bonus Bio Details: Rhonda’s significant restaurant and entertainment transactions and clients include Michael Mina, Charles Phan, Michael Chiarello, Cavalier, Mourad Lahlou, Joshua Skenes, STK Steakhouse, Roka Akor, Bagatelle, Lucky Strike, and Crystal Jade. Recent retail work includes Yoga Works, Restoration Hardware, Paper Source, Bonobos, Leica Camera, Eres, T-Mobile, Chase Bank, TD Ameritrade, Starbucks, JCB Lounge, Wellendorff Jewelers, Barry’s Bootcamp.
Story by Joshua Deale, Senior Communications Specialist