Last week, Hartman Simons partner Lori
Kilberg
attended The CREW Network’s 2012 Convention and Marketplace in Chicago.
The immediate past president of CREW’s Atlanta chapter and a current member of
the organization’s national Board of Directors, Kilberg has played a crucial
role in making CREW a vibrant and effective voice for women in commercial real
estate.

We recently got a chance to ask Lori four
questions about last week’s show. Many thanks to Lori for her time.  


Attorney-kilbergThe theme to the CREW convention in
Chicago was “Choices.” What are the major choices confronting women in
commercial real estate?

Kilberg: The convention was focused on giving attendees the tools to make the
right, informed choices for themselves and their careers, the choices about how
we do business and lead within our companies and communities. The featured
speakers provided us with industry knowledge to help support our business
choices, to help us learn how to thrive in uncertainty and to understand how
even the smallest choices shape our lives. The choices in commercial real estate
are not really different than in other industries.

Was there a particular part of the
convention – be it a featured speaker, an educational session or a special
event – that sticks out to you as your favorite moment from your time in
Chicago?

Kilberg: So many great programs and speakers, but two sessions stand out
(other than featured speaker and business-management expert Jim Collins, who
was incredible).

Sheena Iyengar,
author of “The Act of Choosing,” gave an amazing presentation about the hard
data and psychology of choosing. She spoke for an hour with a very detailed Power
Point presentation full of graphs and quotes. The most incredible thing – Sheena
has been blind since the age of 13.

Another fabulous
presentation was the roundtable discussion of female executives, moderated by
Diane Paddison, chief strategy officer for Cassidy Turley. She interviewed
Lauralee Martin of Jones Lang LaSalle, Deborah Harmon of Artemus Real Estate
Partners and Lynn Cherney of Spencer Stuart. All of these women are at the top
of their companies, and all are married with children!

You moderated a panel discussion on
development projects that have resumed after stalling for one reason or another
during the Great Recession. What was some of the general advice your panelists
gave on how to restart such projects?

Kilberg: Do your research.
Determine what is the highest and best use for the project, and visit other
similar projects, speak to the developers and understand the challenges. Due
diligence is crucial to the success of any project, but is especially important
with projects that are intended to be rescued from prior failures.

Be persistent, and don’t give up. One
project went through four letters of intent. Another was rescued out of
bankruptcy in a battle with the former owner. The third project was dependent
on a public-private partnership that involved nine government agencies and was
delayed for three years.

Kilberg: What was the overall mood of
the attendees: did they feel good about the overall state of women in
commercial real estate?

I conducted
informal surveys with women throughout the convention. To a person, they felt
that their work had increased over the prior year, and that they and their
firms were doing better. It is hard not to feel good about the overall state of
women in commercial real estate when you gather 1,000 accomplished industry
women in one place!

Be sure to read a recap of the panel discussion that Kilberg moderated at the CREW show in Chicago in this recent edition of Bisnow Atlanta.