EMPOWER RECOGNIZES SUSAN ARLEDGE, WOMEN'S HISTORY MONTH
As Executive Managing Director of Site Selection and Incentives, Susan Arledge specializes in securing real estate locations for clients globally, focusing on a proprietary Total Cost Analysis model that identifies all labor costs, fulfillment/distribution transportation costs, incentive opportunities, and real estate costs. She focuses on finding locations that reduce attrition, increase productivity, improve quality of service, and allow clients to remain competitive by finding a labor force that meets their unique needs. A recognized author and frequent speaker on the skills required for site selection, incentive negotiations, and tenant representation, Susan is often featured in publications such as D CEO, D Magazine, and Bisnow.
By Laurie Harrigan, CTS
CoreNet Global North Texas EMPOWER Co-Chair
How did you find your way into CRE sales? What drew you into the industry?
“Real Estate chose me! When the Henry S. Miller Co. offered me my first chance in real estate, I grabbed it and never looked back,” says Susan Arledge. “I started in the real estate business in industrial leasing with the Henry S. Miller Co., largely because they were the only firm that would hire me. There were not many women in commercial real estate at that time, as we were an unproven commodity in the field of real estate sales and leasing.”
You have a strong history of giving back to the community and your profession. How do you mentor the next generation of women CRE brokers?
“ESRP has many women in leadership and within our brokerage ranks, and there is a commitment to bring more women into corporate real estate (CRE). Each of us mentors women in different ways, through board memberships or by serving in leadership roles with CRE organizations. Our goal is to make sure that a career path into CRE is known to more women and minorities so that our firm more closely resembles the clients that we support.”
What would be your advice for women seeking entry into corporate real estate sales?
Susan strongly believes that women have a unique and equal opportunity in CRE. She would tell anyone that has self-motivation and self-discipline that it is a wonderful and rewarding career path. There is no job description, and by virtue, the industry offers many opportunities for women to excel.
Success in this business is all about persistence and resilience, but those alone are not enough. To have long term success, a broker needs four recurring character traits: (1) the ability to understand the client’s business; (2) ability to be empathetic; (3) make a personal commitment to each client and (4) offer creative solutions to meet the client’s needs. If you don’t have the ability to provide this last skill, there is not much to differentiate you from the competition.
Additionally, these traits are not gender-specific, so the CRE brokerage field is wide open to all and has fewer barriers to diversity. However, it may be less attractive to some because of the traditional compensation structure that comes with the typical 100% commission pay structure. “While the structure can be a perceived barrier to entry, if anyone is able to put the fear of the risk aside, it is a fantastic field with high rewards,” she said.
She believes that most women traditionally have not had the same early exposure to CRE as do their male counterparts and, consequently, may not consider CRE a career choice. Susan sees immense value in us talking more about CRE earlier to show this as a viable and rewarding field of choice for women. Some unique aspects of this business are that there are limited entry barriers (other than the compensation structure), high risk and high reward, and it is open to anyone who has the ability and will to succeed. As more women and people of color join CRE, it will encourage more to seek CRE as a career path. And the more diversity you see in CRE, the less unusual it will become. Be vocal and provide exposure through talking about it and delivering educational opportunities.
What qualities do you think have helped you succeed as a woman in CRE sales?
Susan stressed that having strong financial capabilities helped her in dealing with the complexities of real estate transactions. Additionally, the understanding of “Big Data” has been invaluable, allowing her to utilize analytics to understand and predict how and why an employer can attract and retain a workforce at a specific location. “Real estate decisions today are largely about labor attraction and retention, as well as a strong sense of a customer’s financial position,” she says. In sales, she recommends that each woman find something that makes her unique or find a new approach that gives her an edge.
Although people will return to the office, “working from home in some manner is here to stay,” says Susan. She predicts a more casual work environment, less coat and tie, and that there will always be a higher level of informality moving forward. However, I have always felt that you dress like you are already successful if you want respect in your field. Dress like you want to be treated, in person, on video calls, and on social media. Project your image and your own personal “Brand.”
As CoreNet’s EMPOWER generates interest and influences change in our CRE industry regarding equity, diversity, and inclusion, together, we must forge the path and carve a future to ensure diversity becomes more of a non-issue. CRE has become more open to anyone who has the desire, characteristics, and motivation to succeed. We value Susan Arledge’s corporate real estate contributions and thank her for bridging the gap through mentorship and inspiration to the next generation of CRE leaders.