Wendy Mann is CEO of Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW) Network and president of the CREW Network Foundation. As CEO of the 11,500-member global association, Mann is committed to transforming the commercial real estate industry by advancing women. CREW Network Foundation is the only foundation solely dedicated to creating a pipeline of diverse talent and supporting women’s careers in commercial real estate.
With a career spanning nearly 30 years in association management, Mann has held a variety of positions that contribute to her commitment to understand members’ needs and deliver products and services that advance the mission of the organization. She believes in possibilities and working collaboratively to benefit members.
Prior to CREW Network, Mann served as senior vice president of (National Association of Industrial and Office Parks) NAIOP, the Commercial Real Estate Development Association.
Personally, Mann believes in the power of stories. She hosts a radio show on local public radio called The Story Hour, which examines the art and impact of storytelling.
Mann holds a bachelor’s degree in communications from St. Bonaventure University and earned her Certified Association Executive (CAE) designation from the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE). She is certified as an Executive Leadership Coach through Georgetown University.
How do you start your day?
I love a cup of Earl Grey tea and a skim of the headlines—I usually hit the regular news headlines, then the commercial real estate headlines. The first 20 minutes of “Good Morning America” is usually on my agenda—if I’m not dashing off somewhere.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve heard?
I live by this wisdom: “Be who you are and be that well.” I believe that authenticity is crucial. Knowing who you are and being your best self is key to integrity and respect in the business world.
What’s the worst?
I don’t know that I’ve heard any bad advice; maybe it was my summer softball coach telling me to swing at everything! While it didn’t always work out for me in softball, I like to think taking a swing at everything has been a positive way to live.
What’s your proudest moment?
Personally, my proudest moment was when each of my children graduated college. They are both living on their own with good careers. What more could a parent ask for?
Professionally, I was most proud when I took the stage for my first CREW Network convention. I knew I was in the right place to do the work that would help transform the industry by advancing women globally. I believe we are on our way!
What’s your biggest regret?
I truly try not to live with regrets. Personally, the only thing I wish I had done when I was young was spend a summer living and working at the beach. That would have been a great experience.
In business, I regret not being more politically astute earlier in my career. I was working hard, but not paying attention to some aspects that would have been helpful to understand.
What’s the last movie you watched?
“Bohemian Rhapsody.” Magnificent! As a child of the 70s and 80s, I thought it was fantastic and brought back so many memories of that time and music. The acting and how they captured the story was wonderful.
Who inspires you? What drives you?
My father was a huge inspiration to me. He taught me about work ethic, integrity, honesty and kindness. He passed away five years ago and I’m sad he was not alive to see me take on my role at CREW Network. He would be very proud of the work I am doing. The women in CREW Network also inspire me. They are bold, courageous and committed and they support and encourage one another.
I want to do meaningful work and know that I am helping change women’s lives. I’m driven by watching our members and scholarship recipients grow and evolve through our programs and services. It’s worthwhile work to know that we are an integral part of their lives and we are truly making a difference.
If not real estate, what industry would you be involved in?
I would definitely be in the publishing industry as a book editor or writer. My first love—before my husband, dogs or children—was stories. Books were my best friends growing up. Stories and storytelling help us connect with one another and make meaning in our life. One of the most important leadership skills that today’s leaders must have is storytelling. Never underestimate the power of story to connect with clients, partners and employees.
How has the industry changed since your career began?
In the market, I think that we have become much more vigilant about stability and market fundamentals since the 2008 downturn. There’s a good amount of development going on, and more of a focus on multifamily and senior living pushed by demographic shifts.
From CREW Network’s perspective, we have been benchmarking women in the industry for nearly 20 years. What has changed most is that there are more women in the industry than ever before. We are seeing more young women in university programs as well. Yet there remains a barrier to women in the C-suite and executive management. When we see the shift in the next seven to 10 years as the baby boomers leave the industry and more diverse professionals take their places in executive leadership, it’s my hope that we will see many talented women in top roles.
In your opinion, what does 2019 hold for CRE?
I think we will see a slowdown in development and a bit less risk taking. We have been going fast for a while and I think that industry insiders are watching for a potential downturn in mid to late 2020. This year will be a more watchful year for the industry.
For CREW Network, we will celebrate our 30th anniversary. That is a big opportunity to highlight the talented women leading our industry. We continue to evolve and bring forward opportunities that enable women to enhance their skills and rise to higher levels of leadership and success.
What causes are you most passionate about?
First and foremost, I am passionate about women, their success and achieving equal opportunity. I once had a woman boss who said, “we all work for ourselves.” I thought she was nuts, but she was right. At the end of the day, we need to be able to look ourselves in the mirror and ask, “did I give my very best today? Did I work with honor and integrity?” I want each woman who wants more in her career to have equal opportunity to achieve it.
My personal passions are my radio show about storytelling. It airs on local Arlington, VA public radio. It allows me to bring the best storytellers to the airwaves from writers to filmmakers to photographer—anyone in any medium who is telling a story. My other passion is animal welfare. I love animals, especially dogs, so I do what I can to support those organizations.
How did you get your start in the industry?
I’m very lucky. Someone took a chance on me. They gave me the opportunity to take a senior executive role—and for that I am forever grateful, as it led me to CREW Network. My favorite quote that I use to describe where I am: “You may not end up where you thought you were going, but you’ll always end up where you are meant to be.” For me, that is working on behalf of commercial real estate women at CREW Network.
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