Tampa Women (Win)ing
Spotlight On: LaShawn Bates
Tampa will be publishing monthly features on the women of the Tampa WIN chapter, their accomplishments and any tips or advice for other women in the commercial real estate field.
LaShawn Bates is the Manager of the Florida Capital Markets Financial Analysis Team.
Michelle McMurray (M) & Nicole Grzywacz (N): How did you make your first dollar?
LaShawn Bates (L): I babysat for my mom’s boss and he had two horrible children who I would babysit for $3-4 / hour. They were two brothers and they were crazy. I was about 12 years old, and they had a really nice house, so I got to hang out despite the kids. I had that job for a couple years off-and-on until they ended up moving away. Once I was in high school, I started my real job.
M&N: What was your “real” job?
L: Working at Target at 15 years old. I was a cashier – this is true story – and I ended up getting fired because people would come through my line and if they didn’t have enough money, I would offer my employee discount to them. I didn’t know you couldn’t do that!
[short pause for hysterical laughing around the table]
L: Can you believe that? So finally the Target manager pulled me aside and told me that I couldn’t use my employee discount on random customers so they let me go. And my natural response was, of course, “Well, they didn’t have enough. I was just trying to be helpful.”
M&N: So you’re babysitting at 12 years old, unsuccessfully working as a cashier at Target at 15 years old…where did you go to college after high school?
L: I went to the University of Kansas, Lawrence. Rock, chalk, Jayhawk.
M&N: What did you major in?
L: [laughs] Why? Well, I was a really good student. I was that student who could party hard and still maintain really good grades. I almost went into Economics, but that got too boring. Eventually, I thought I might go into Banking, hence the Finance degree. I was good at math and things made sense to me from a macro numbers perspective, so I finally chose Finance.
M&N: Out of all the classes you took, what was the most useful / still use it today?
L: Probably Macroeconomics. That class showed me that things that we do in commercial real estate really affect the world and the state of the economy. That class really showed me how debt, equity and borrowing really make the world go ‘round. It was neat to get that perspective.
M&N: Did you have any internships during school or did you just jump right into the workforce?
L: I jumped right into the workforce and believe it or not, my first out-of-college job was working at a casino. I worked in the casino bank, balancing all the money coming in and out at the end of the night. I went to work at 6 p.m. and got off at 3 a.m. It was Harrah’s Casino on the river in Kansas City and it was great money back then making $15 / hour.
M&N: Where did you go to work after you left the casino?
L: After Harrah’s Casino, I only had one other job before coming to Cushman & Wakefield. I worked at Key Bank Real Estate Capital and that’s how I fell into this business. I was working at the casino and a girl friend of mine was a paralegal for a real estate attorney. She was promoted and asked if I wanted to join her company and take her job. It was a salaried job with a bonus – it was 1998 and it was great money! I went in and interviewed with a female real estate attorney, Lisa McGlaston, and it was a whole new world. It was everything I had gone to school for and I could see all of that macroeconomics spinning around me. It was super cool. It was also super cool that it was a woman in charge. Lisa was a high-ranking professional at the company in the mid-90s, which was amazing. She taught me EVERYTHING about real estate. She was my first real mentor.
M&N: As women we’re always talking about paying it forward and bringing other women into the workforce. Did you ever give pause to the fact that you got your two big breaks in your career through women?
L: Having these women bring me into the fold DID have an impact on me. It was and still is a male-dominated business. There were all these rock star guys who were producers and money makers and they would come to my female boss, Lisa, to ask questions, listen to her, take her counsel. As for my girl friend who brought the job to me in the first place – I really need to call her and ask her WHY she thought of me for that job – I can only imagine she thought that my personality would be a good match for my boss, Lisa. But to answer your question, I did notice back then that these two women brought me in – there weren’t a ton of women in leadership positions back then and they chose to give another woman a shot.
M&N: And how did you end up working with Mike Davis here at Cushman & Wakefield?
L: Things were great in the economy and then in 2008 things started going south. I stayed with my company, but relocated to Tampa from Kansas City right when the economy started crashing. Key was closing its Tampa office and told me that I could move to Atlanta or take my severance package. I had four months to decide and I had just gotten to Tampa and gotten established, so I took the severance package and applied for this job. Margo McConnell came into my life then who was by far the biggest influence in my whole real estate career. She called me in for an interview to come work for this top-producing, money-maker, rainmaker, named Mike Davis. Mike was traveling and I didn’t even meet Mike until after Margo had hired me. It was a very different type of place. It was a different dynamic moving from banking to brokerage. Margo was a fabulous woman and she paved the way for me to succeed. Mike is like a big brother to me. He has taught me so much. It’s been a wonderful evolvement from my first day here to now.
M&N: What key learnings as a woman did you learn when you first started working in this industry?
L: As women, the best advice I can ever give is that when you mess up, stand up, go into the office of whomever you are working with, look him/her in the face and say “I made a mistake” and move on. That’s hard to do sometimes. Also, believe that you can do the job. When I was promoted, my first reaction was “I can’t do this” and I had to have Margo tell me that I was ready. I didn’t believe in myself. Women seem to not necessarily JUMP at opportunities that elevate them. Women sometimes feel that they have to have all the pieces in place. If you haven’t read it, read the book Lean In where Sheryl Sandberg says that men will go in with 60% of job qualifications and women feel like they have to have 100% of the qualifications. If my current job would have been a normal job posting, I would have never applied for it. So, believe you can do the job. Go for it.
M&N: Give us an example of something you did at work that made you face-palm.
L: Oh, yeah, ok, so here’s one… I was working on a proposal for the headquarters of a major credit card company. The property had $20,000/month in parking revenue. I underwrote it as $20,000/year, so instead of $20,000 x 12, I underwrote as a $20,000 for the whole year. And it was a BIG deal. I hit one wrong button and it changed the whole equation. We didn’t win the business and I don’t know if it was because of my mistake. I still have no idea. That is a kind of oops that in this business you don’t want to make. I had a Post-It note on my computer for years that read “Double check parking income.”
M&N: You have kids. You work long hours. Now you’re a manager. How do you juggle your personal and professional life?
L: The hours were definitely an issue when I first started. Mike’s kids were older so he could work late nights and that just didn’t work for me. When I first started here, my children were small, so Mike and I came to an agreement that I would leave at 5 p.m., take my kids to soccer practice and then when I was back home around 8 p.m., I would sign back online, putting in the hours, whatever it took, to get the work done. This company has made a ton of progress where that is concerned. The technology just allows us to be more flexible and virtual. As long as employees see the need for flexibility and are ok with that, there’s an ability to balance work and personal. The set-up here at Cushman & Wakefield has worked well for me and my family.
M&N: Do you think that as a woman you’ve had to work a little harder because you’re a mom? Have you had to actively try to prove yourself?
L: Of course. I never want anyone to think that I can’t get my work done because I’m a mom. I have always gone above and beyond because of that fact. I do believe that some of that is self-inflicted. Maybe everybody doesn’t really see it that way, but that’s how I see it. I think if you have employees and colleagues that are respectful of the fact that you are a parent, that’s a big deal. It’s the same with my male colleagues. They all have young children and I tell them to get out of the office and jump back online later and finish the job so they can spend time with their kids.
LaShawn Bates oversees the Capital Markets analytical team for Cushman and Wakefield’s Tampa, Orlando and Jacksonville offices. LaShawn does a lot of fancy math stuff, but basically she provides financial expertise and custom financial analysis for clients when they are making their commercial real estate decisions.
About the Interviewers:
Michelle McMurray is the industrial research analyst for the Tampa Bay markets, as well as the co-author of the Millennial on Millennial (blog). You can follow Michelle on Twitter @michellemccre.
Nicole Grzywacz is the Florida Communications Lead, co-leading the state of Florida’s Marketing efforts with Nick Campbell. She is lover of memes, track changes in Microsoft Word and #hashtags. You can follow Nicole on Twitter @Cubolak403.