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CREW: 30 years of education and more

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When Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW) San Diego was formed in 1983, the organization fulfilled the need of bringing women together to advance their roles in the industry. Now celebrating its 30th anniversary, CREW is still a great way for women -- and men -- in the commercial real estate industry to gain knowledge and support.

Education has always been at the heart of CREW. In its early years, the organization gave women the information they needed to create new career opportunities -- particularly when few options were available -- and this is still a focus today.

According to CREW’s Director of Education and Programs Amanda Chandler, “Our 2013 education calendar is filled with topics that are trending. We want to give our members the information they need to stay competitive and understand the changing environment in which we all work.”

Chandler, like her 10 fellow board members, is a CREW volunteer. Her “other job” is account manager at Unisource Solutions, a leading integrated facility service and office furniture sales provider.

A panel of women in commercial real estate.

Finding relevant educational forums can be challenging for both new professionals and seasoned veterans of the real estate industry. CREW is successful in selecting topics and speakers that are germane to all, no matter what career phase or sector of the industry one is in.

Recently, CREW hosted an educational luncheon program with famed U.S. Trust and Bank of America economist and strategist Joseph P. Quinlan at which he spoke about what to expect in 2013. The topics ranged from where the stock market is headed to what your child’s college major should be.

“We believe everyone in the sell-out crowd walked away with valuable information -- who doesn’t benefit from learning about the economy?” Chandler said. “Finding topics that have wide appeal and touch most, if not all, aspects of the commercial real estate field is very important to us.”

In February, CREW is holding one of its signature Leadership Series Breakfasts on expressing one’s value to clients, employers and the industry. March will feature an educational luncheon on San Diego’s parking crisis and how it affects real estate. In June, a panel will examine how to take vacant space -- ranging from technology to retail -- and repurpose it for a new use. Several additional educational programs are in the works for the second half of the year as well.

CREW is also known for its mentoring value. Legacy members are active in working with younger professionals, helping them navigate the commercial real estate industry. Peer mentoring and support is also a benefit of membership.

To provide more members with mentoring, CREW is premiering in April its new Fireside Chat series. The series will feature women in commercial real estate in a casual setting, sharing their wisdom and advice. With a Q&A format and a long-term CREW member moderating, Chandler is excited by what attendees will gain. “Hearing firsthand from someone about what they have done to get where they are is always important and interesting,” she said.

CREW isn’t just about education, however. The organization wants its 100 plus San Diego members to get extensive value from the organization so a variety of events are also planned for 2013.

Two social events will be held along with the organization’s annual wine tasting party, scheduled for October. These events are good networking opportunities and allow CREW members to get to know their fellow commercial real estate industry professionals on a more personal level. In May, CREW will hold its annual golf tournament where the focus is on having fun. Two luncheons for newcomers to the organization will also be held throughout the year to help those just joining CREW to best utilize their membership.

“We also want to focus on the fact that this is our 30th anniversary and make that a part of everything we do this year,” Chandler said. “It is an important milestone and one worth celebrating!”

-Warren is president of TW2 Marketing.

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