This year marks the 25th anniversary of Real Estate Forum’s Women of Influence issue, recognizing 50 women who have significantly impacted commercial real estate with their exceptional transaction volume, strong impact on their company’s overall success, or contributions to the industry at large. In our #cwWomenAtWork blog series, we profile our four winners honored as Women of Influence.
In part one of our #cwWomenAtWork blog series, we feature Marla Maloney, a three-time honoree and nominee to this year’s Hall of Fame.
Marla Maloney is no stranger to hard work and perseverance. She quickly advanced through Cushman & Wakefield’s property management operations to become a leading female executive. As President of Asset Services for the Americas, Marla focuses on client care, consistent improvement to the Asset Services operating platform, best-in-class service delivery, and steady growth for the 700+ million-square-foot portfolio.
Marla has a unique ability to identify growth opportunities to expand the firm’s footprint while never losing sight of the fundamentals of client service. She plays a critical role in integrating and merging Cushman & Wakefield’s culture and best practices, with the goal of motivating nearly 4,000 associates to be excited about the firm’s future and the services it provides.
Her 21 years in commercial real estate have afforded her a wealth of personal and professional growth opportunities.
“Commercial real estate is a people business, and it has taught me the importance of recognizing, developing and mentoring people,” Marla says. “At Cushman & Wakefield, our people are our greatest asset, and we must truly invest in them to deliver exceptional client service.”
We caught up with Marla to get her thoughts on diversity and commercial real estate, her professional and personal goals, and leadership advice.
In what unique ways are women impacting the CRE industry?
Women demonstrate strong leadership in building relationships. If you have a solid understanding of your clients’ needs, you can deliver superior results, create client loyalty and drive growth for an organization, greatly impacting our firm and its success.
In addition, women are natural collaborators and have the ability to partner with clients and colleagues. There is a true sense of shared ownership, leading cross-functional teams to work together and achieve excellence.
How can companies benefit from women in leadership roles? How do you feel about the steps the CRE industry has taken to promote diversity?
I see increased opportunities for women in our industry, especially as our clients’ asset management teams and decision-makers become more diverse. Women bring unique skillsets and perspectives, and I think our industry understands a diverse team can more competently address the variety of client and tenant needs.
Women are making strides in leadership positions, and leaders across many organizations are recognizing women for making a difference in their businesses and for their clients. Diverse, cross-functional teams bring different ideas and opinions that challenge the status quo, and, as a result, create better client solutions. More and more women will be rewarded with leadership opportunities for delivering exceptional client results.
What words of advice do you have for young women starting in the commercial real estate business?
My advice is to look for leaders you want to emulate; people that energize you and have characteristics you value and should try to make your own. We’re always being refined, by positive and negative experiences, and the ability to grow through the experiences and constructive criticism is key.
Surround yourself with people who push you to be better. Push yourself to be better. I’ve had many experiences where my leaders have stretched me and allowed me to do their job before it was my job. This allowed me to gain confidence in a skillset I didn’t quite yet have, but when the job opportunity came, I was ready for it. If you work with a sense of urgency, have a forward-thinking mindset, and raise your hand to take on more responsibility to learn new skills, you will be rewarded and recognized.
Looking forward, what are some unrealized goals you continue to pursue?
Professionally, I aspire for Asset Services to be a top-three provider in all geographies. Our platform is rapidly expanding through building strong client relationships and key acquisitions. If we maintain our client-centric focus and deliver consistent results across all markets, I am confident we will achieve this goal.
A personal goal of mine is to serve on a board for a national non-profit that focuses on children with autism and their families. My daughter Lindsey has special needs, and she really strengthens my sense of humility, patience and ability to conquer challenges. I am passionate about raising awareness around autism and want to help provide resources and support for other families with autistic children.
What are some important trends in commercial real estate that you think people aren’t talking enough about?
Technology has really impacted the way we do business. People are using technology to be better communicators and decision-makers, especially with the amount of data that is available. Technology has also made us more efficient in our operations with increased automation.
But there must be a balance between using technology for communication with clients and doing business in a face-to-face setting. It is important to know your clients and tenants on a personal level to develop a partnership that is rooted in trust. You need to know how your client is measured, makes decisions, and runs their business to effectively deliver the best solutions. A lot of that information is gathered from in-person client meetings. While technology can place a company above the rest, it can also create a barrier between service providers and their clients. Finding a balance is crucial to developing meaningful, strong client relationships.
Marla Maloney is a key member of Cushman & Wakefield’s executive management team in the United States, reporting directly to the President and CEO of the Americas. As President of Asset Services, Americas, Ms. Maloney focuses on client care, consistent improvement to the Asset Services operating platform, best-in-class service delivery, and steady growth. She is an active member of Cushman & Wakefield’s Strategic Accounts leadership team, focused on providing comprehensive, integrated solutions for key investor clients. In addition, she serves on Cushman & Wakefield’s Americas Executive Committee.