East Bay CREW provides a valuable network for women in commercial real estate to connect with each other and advance their careers.
The East Bay chapter of CREW, which stands for commercial real estate women, is part of the national CREW Network. The local chapter was founded in 2005.
"East Bay CREW is a networking and educational industry group with a mission to enhance professional growth and business opportunities for woman as influential leaders in commercial real estate," Dana Tsubota, East Bay chapter president, said. "We define CREW as women who are involved in the commercial real estate industry. Everyone in the group deals in commercial real estate in some capacity."
Tsubota is an attorney who serves as legal counsel for DeNova Homes. CREW members could be appraisers, architects, bankers, engineers, interior designers, wealth managers and more.
"It's everybody that could in fact touch the property," Tsubota said. "Anybody that could need to get the deal done, that's who we have as members."
The national organization was founded in 1989 "to influence the success of the commercial real estate industry by advancing the achievements of women," she said. "At the national level, there are 70 chapters across the entire country. Business development is a huge focus of the entirety of the organization. We try to create opportunities for women to do business together across not only their own market, but across all markets."
CREW's four key initiatives are business development, leadership development, career outreach and industry research.
Business development includes a heavy emphasis on networking. Local chapters meet monthly for lunches and informational programs. The national group offers three leadership conferences and one CREW convention each year.
"Last year, the keynote speaker at the CREW convention was Hillary Clinton," Tsubota said. "This year's speaker is (former U.S. Secretary of State) Madeleine Albright."
"It's a fairly robust organization that focuses on truly high quality programming with an idea of providing women the resources they need," she continued. "Business development is a big piece of that. That creates the opportunities for women to work together."
The national group offers CREW Biz, an online listing of all members nationwide.
"If I need someone in another market to help me, I'll go to CREW Biz and do a search and reach out to five members in Atlanta (for) whatever I need to help get my deal done in commercial real estate," Tsubota said. "It might be an attorney, a broker, a real estate agent, an engineer, an appraiser. Anybody connected to a deal is on my list."
Members also can get leadership development training to learn how to advance in their careers.
"They're getting that training in places where they might not otherwise get it," she said. "CREW offers that to its members to assure that they have the ability to move forward in their careers."
Career outreach provides programs to education women and girls about career opportunities within commercial real estate.
"We also have educational and mentoring programs as well to help those already in the real estate industry to achieve higher levels," Tsubota said.
Industry research is a relatively new CREW initiative, launched in 2004, to provide detailed information about women in commercial real estate. A benchmark report is released every five years, but smaller annual reports provide valuable information to help women improve their careers.
One recent report, for example, noted that women tend to avoid taking risks, a habit that must change if they want to get ahead in the male-dominated industry. The reports include concrete objectives to help women improve and meet goals.
"It was interesting to find there were certain leadership skills that were lacking," Tsubota said of the first benchmark report. "It uses data to identify strengths and weaknesses in leadership skills and then passes down to the local chapters ideas for programs to improve skills."
Tsubota, a member since 2006, said CREW has been invaluable in helping her advance her career and expand her professional network.
"In any given month, I would get at least two deals are sent to me from CREW members," she said. "The very best in their profession are consistently looking to improve their own professional skill set, their own leadership skill set and their own network of contacts. That's what CREW provides. I don't know of a single person who cannot benefit from individual education, business networking opportunities and leadership development."
Learn more about East Bay CREW at eastbaycrew.org .
Also in this issue...