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Changing the script: Train future leaders beyond the day-to-day technical skills

NAREIM Manager Perspectives

May 17, 2024


Article: By Haley Donato, Senior Vice President of Asset Management & Finance at Continental Realty Corporation.



How do real estate investment managers improve diversity all levels of seniority? By also focusing on the "missing middle" of mid-career professionals - and training future leaders in skills that go beyond the technical requirements of the job.


As the entire industry looks to their succession plans, ensuring there is a diverse slate of future leaders is critical to how companies will perform in the future, says Haley Donato, Senior Vice President of Asset Management & Finance at Continental Realty Corporation.


"We think that is, in large part, why most executive teams are generally homogenous," she writes in NAREIM's first manager perspectives article, Changing the Script.


"Mentorship, internal championing and leadership development that should occur mid-career are critical to long-term advancement [of women, people of color and men]. It often and organically happens between people who naturally relate to each other."


But if firms fail to bridge the "missing middle" the likelihood of having a diverse senior or executive level of professionals - and leaders who can inspire and shape the next generation of talent - becomes much more challenging.


Donato outlines key strategies CRC has adopted to change the narrative of employee demographics in real estate investment management.


In her article, available for download here, she details CRC's in-house university and formal training programs, as well as the creation of a Women's RE Summit for the Carolinas coast.


Highlights include:

  • CRC has an in-house university with a curriculum that includes Emotional Intelligence, Management Principles and Negotiation Strategies.

  • Courses are taught by company leaders, giving team members exposure to leadership, and made available at the recommendation of a team member’s manager. The criteria for admission is centered around current achievement and potential.

  • Creating a Women’s Real Estate Summit - an annual event hosted by CRC - and open to female leaders in CRE investments and capital markets gathered along the Carolina coast.

"We must do better as an industry," Donato said. "So far, our efforts have spoken for themselves: 50% of our team members are women, and 49% are minorities. By sharing our approach, we hope to be an inspiration for and an example of meaningful change across our industry."


Download the NAREIM Manager Perspectives article, Changing the Script here.


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