CREW Mentorship: Helping Women Succeed in CRE Since 2016

By Katie Rapone, editor

“Don’t underestimate the power of your network,” says Jaimee Keene, vice president of Investments at Avison Young and mentor for the CREW Denver Mentor-Mentee Program. “It’s worth investing in your network for the long term. It takes work and dedication but it’s paid dividends for me over the years.” Keene is currently in her second year of the mentor program working with young women in the Denver commercial real estate field.

The CREW Mentor-Mentee Program was created in 2016 in an effort to transform the commercial real estate industry by advancing women globally through supporting career advancement. The six-month program — free to members — provides the opportunity for mentees to connect with, and be mentored by, senior industry professionals representing nearly every discipline within commercial real estate, including law, brokerage, finance, property management, development, finance, engineering, title/escrow, asset management and more. With a dedicated team of committee members, the program has grown from four mentor/mentee pairs in 2016 to 22 pairs in 2020.

Benefits for Mentees

The number of women advancing into senior positions remains low, especially in commercial real estate. Yet research shows that when more women are in-charge, better decisions are made. Mentorship is recognized as a critical element to help women prepare for and attain upper-level career positions. According to a CREW Network study, women who were supported by a mentor increased their chances of securing a mid- or top-level management position by 56 percent vs. those without a mentor. And, according to Committee Co-Chair Alex Mulvihill, sr. financial analyst at CBRE Capital Markets, the CREW mentorship program has helped to improve parity and diversity in the male-dominated industry.

The program kicks off in January, with a graduation celebration held in September. Mentors and mentees typically meet once or twice per month and detailed Mentor and Mentee Handbooks, as well as suggested reading materials, are made available to each year’s participants to assist them in their mentoring journey.

“Mentors provide mentees with constructive feedback to support growth and success. Additionally, the program increases leadership and career development skills of CREW leaders and members. Past mentors have recommended and supported their mentees to use their college education to seek promotions and raises, to make upward changes in their careers, and to seek additional CRE certifications which can be of value to them in their careers,” says Mulvihill.

With 20 years under her belt, Jaimee Keene finally feels she is in a position to give back and has a lot of experience to share with someone who is ready to grow. Keen is currently mentoring Kristin Kravik, analyst for JCR Capital’s debt group, where she is responsible for bridge and permanent loan underwriting and assisting new loan production.

“Through my mentor and the CREW mentorship program, I have been connected with contacts in the industry whom I may have otherwise not met. Additionally, the program has required me to critically think about my short-term and long-term goals and enact an action plan, with the help of my mentor, on how to achieve them,” says Kravik.

Keen recalls an occasion when she shared with Kravik some practical advice about goal setting. “She seemed enthused to put in the work it takes for effective goal setting and the steps it takes to achieve goals. It’s more than just writing them down. I shared some worksheets that I used earlier in the year to help me get focused, and it was great to share a tangible tool for the toolbox.”

Benefits for Mentors

While participation in workplace mentoring relationships is associated with a wealth of benefits for mentees, studies also show potential benefits for mentors as well. A study published by The Chronicle of Evidence-Based Mentoring, showed that individuals who served as mentors within their workplace reported greater job satisfaction and commitment to the organization. In addition, higher quality relationships were associated with even greater benefits.

Keen believes the biggest benefit to the CREW mentorship program is the platform it provides for senior level women and men to give back to the CRE community. “Early in my career, I had both men and women challenge me to step up, to push myself out of my comfort zone, and to reach beyond what I thought were my limits. While they weren’t formally mentors, I do recognize the responsibility of experienced professionals to help mentor and guide those who are seeking advancement in their careers,” says Keene. “There are some fabulous women who are generous with their time in CREW, and it’s great to be associated with so many powerful women who are also motivated to give back.”

Mentor qualifications include a minimum of 12 years experience in the commercial real estate industry. Both Men and women are welcome to apply as mentors or mentees and mentors need not be a member of CREW. Mentors will receive a complimentary CREW Denver 2020 membership.

To complete an application for the program click here.

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