Samantha Low is a Director with Cushman & Wakefield’s Brokerage Services team in San Francisco, specializing in tenant advisory. Samantha helps clients design and execute real estate strategies within the Bay Area, nationally and globally across diverse portfolios and occupier requirements. She is also a member of Cushman & Wakefield’s Women’s Integrated Network (WIN) and Emerging Tech Advisory Group (ETAG). An accomplished professional, Samantha was recently recognized by Bisnow as a Bay Area Power Women 2019, which honors women for their industry and community achievements. Samantha is also the President Elect of CREW SF (Commercial Real Estate Women San Francisco), an organization helping to advance the success of women in commercial real estate. Notably, she was also nominated this year in three different categories for CREW/The Registry’s coveted ELEVATE awards, a first in the organization’s history. ELEVATE is an iconic Bay Area-wide celebration of women honoring individuals and employers making a positive impact in the CRE industry. Dear to her heart, Samantha is also a big supporter of Okizu, an organization supporting families with childhood cancer. Samantha joined us to discuss her captivating experiences within and leading up to her career in CRE plus some of her key goals as a leader within the industry, and much more. Hear from Samantha in our final profile in celebration of Women’s History Month 2019:
What led you to pursue a career in real estate?
I am one of those who always knew my career would be in real estate. I graduated with a degree in Architectural Engineering from the University of Kansas (Rock Chalk!). I was an electrical engineer with a global engineering firm for six years designing power and lighting systems for buildings and stadiums, for example, the Philadelphia Eagles’ Stadium, JPMorgan Chase HQ, GAP HQ, etc. After years of working as a lead electrical engineer, I joined a highly regarded construction company, where I managed high profile, complex interior construction projects for a decade. I have always loved architecture, design and construction. Joining Cushman & Wakefield as a tenant real estate advisor gave me a perfect opportunity to utilize what I have learned to assist/educate my clients and colleagues to achieve better outcomes; understanding that there is much more cost exposure to tenant leasing than just rental economics.
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? And in one sentence, what is one message or piece of advice you learned you would share with these women?
I think having role models and mentors are great but it is far more important to have management sponsors, people who not only see the value you bring to the company but who can also promote/elevate you to the next professional level.
My piece of advice, “Always treat others the way you would like to be treated.”
Political and or personal views aside, who is a public woman figure (past or present) that you model yourself after and or hold deep admiration for? And why?
The Notorious RGB (Ruth Bader Ginsburg) would certainly be one of the public woman figures who I admire greatly. She is not only clear on what her mission is in life but also she has the abilities to reach over across the table and convince those who had opposed her ideas to reconsider and, ultimately, to join her cause.
In what ways would you say you have either helped break the mold or helped shape the advancement of women, whether in CRE or the community?
I am grateful for those in front of me opening the doors for me and people behind me supporting me climbing the summit. In return, I am doing the same for others, where I always bring someone along through every new door through which I pass. Being one of very few Asian female engineer/project manager/tenant real estate advisors in the Bay Area affords me a great platform from which to show others that neither race nor sex are limiting factors – if I can do it, you can do it better! And that is one of my goals as the incoming President of CREW SF (Commercial Real Estate Women San Francisco), to develop and enhance other female colleagues into leadership roles in the CRE industry and educate our allies along the way.
What are some of the attributes it requires to be successful in your role? What are some of your strongest attributes that help define who you are?
I am curious and value integrity, above and beyond all else. These are two attributes that have served me well. Curiosity is what compels us to learn. This is growth. A lack of curiosity translates to stagnation. Integrity causes us to do the right thing—even when nobody is looking. Commitment to growth and unwavering integrity are essential elements for success.
Is there anything else noteworthy about yourself, your role or the CRE industry that those listening might take away from this interview?
Being comfortable being the “odd one” – I learned this skill at an early age, as one of the few Asians growing up in Kansas. Later, I was one of the few female architectural engineering students at KU. Then, I was one of the few minority female engineers, one of a handful minority female project managers in the construction industry and, now, I’m one of the few female tenant real estate advisors in San Francisco. I have always found strength in being different.
Story by Joshua Deale, Senior Communications Specialist