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LOS ANGELES – What glass ceiling? Jana Turner, principal of RETS, observes that in the commercial real estate industry over the past 10 years women have been moving into more positions of influence. Even better, she believes this field has become more diverse and open to women in powerful roles. She answered a few questions for us regarding her career thus far, and how she feels the industry has changed over the years. Do you agree with her perspective? Add your thoughts to the comments below.

As always, if you have a great woman in the commercial real estate industry deserving of a feature, email with your pitch. 

Globest: Briefly describe how your career has evolved to get you to your current role:

After graduating college in 1977, I joined CRE through R&B Commercial where I worked my way up to western regional president. Soon after, I held executive positions with Koll Management Services and CB Richard Ellis.  In 1997, I became President of Asset Services for CBRE, leading employee transition efforts during numerous acquisitions.  I essentially became one of the very first female senior executives named to a Fortune 500 company.

After my retirement from CBRE in 2007, Kent Elliott, principal of RETS Associates and I started talking about how to take RETS Associates to the next level.  Kent and I had previously worked together for 8 years at Koll and CBRE where we had a great working relationship.  The relationships I had cultivated in my 30 years in the commercial real estate business, served as a perfect backdrop for me to become involved in the recruitment business.

My career evolution has driven me to help people navigate the world of employment within commercial real estate and make RETS Associates the preeminent staffing firm for real estate companies.

Globest: What has been your most interesting achievement and why?

Helping reposition RETS Associates from an interim staffing agency to a full service recruitment firm with additional offices and more service lines. I truly enjoy creating and expanding our services, geographic reach and capabilities.  Wehandled 359 searches in 2012 – 95% in the western U.S. – and Q412 had a 14% increase in number of searches compared to Q411.

Also, I created the social media platform for the company utilizing Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other digital mediums.  These tools have helped us to promote our services and engage with top talent across the nation.

Globest: How has the commercial real estate industry changed since you entered it? Has it become more welcoming/accepting of women?

The commercial real estate business from my perspective has not changed that much over the past 35 years.  It is still somewhat a brick and mortar business. However, I have seen many acquisitions/mergers of firms and a decrease in the number of large firms that used to dominate the industry.

There has been a significant shift over the past ten years as it pertains to the industry welcoming women.  Firms are not only encouraging women to join the industry, but expecting diverse thinking from all employees.  The role of women within commercial real estate will become greater the more companies provide additional workplace flexibility and opportunity. Additionally, there is a growing understanding that women can perform their job successfully beyond long hours at the office.

I also see how women are in a perfect position to understand management of a multi-generational employee base. Today, a team can include members ranging in age from 21 to 71, with each able to contribute to the company mission if they are effectively managed.

Globest: What do you most enjoy about your job at RETS? Why?

I enjoy helping clients and our team becomes successful.  The process of coaching, mentoring and solving problems is very rewarding for me.  Also, I still love the thrill of a deal and enjoy when we close an assignment successfully!

Globest: What advice would you give to younger women just starting out in the industry? What helped you in the early stages of your career?

Networking, networking, networking. You never know how an introduction is going to help you learn a new skill, gain a new client, present a new career opportunity or improve your position in the industry.  Additionally, interpersonal skills are essential. Today’s workforce is all about collaboration and teamwork.  You can’t achieve long term success without the help of others so hone your managerial and communication skills. Lastly, having strong writing skills is crucial to articulating your thoughts which in turn helps manage and retain a winning team.

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