Published on Friday, February 14, 2020

Panelists at MBA CREF tell the audience how they reached their career goals.


SAN DIEGO—There is no one-size-fits-all approach to successfully navigating a career in commercial real estate. However, continuing education and developing relationships across the industry are significant drivers for career growth, and can lead to new opportunities, according to industry leaders and experts at MBA CREF here in San Diego.

Moderator Sharon Walker, associate VP of multifamily at the Mortgage Bankers Association, helped lead a panel titled “Build Yourself to Suit” where women shared their career experiences, how the industry is evolving and what they expect going forward. “No two paths are the same,” said Walker, who, as a kid, didn’t necessarily know what she wanted to do, just knew she “wanted to make money.”

In college, she took banking, econ, real estate classes and more and started in the banking industry on the consumer credit side. For Walker, getting to where she is now took passion, using the tools around her, networking and reaching out to people.

Maggie Burke, associate director at Berkadia, started in healthcare analytics and through networking, found an open position at Berkadia. According to Burke, your natural tendency is to keep your head down and work. “You think if you work hard, you will be noticed,” she said. But that isn’t always the case. “You have to put yourself out there and be uncomfortable. You never get better at something unless you get uncomfortable.”

Burke encouraged the audience to seek out sponsors, and not necessarily those at your own company. Just seek out “People who can help you with advice and support,” she said. “That is something that has helped me move to the next chapter of my career.”

Panelist Christine R. Chandler, SVP and COO at M&T Realty Capital Corp., started her path in the industry 30 years ago and never thought she’d be in this industry when she was a child. “I started as a floating temp,” she said. “The best thing you can do is find a sponsor and a mentor to help you get yourself recognized.”

Check back with for more from this panel and more from the MBA CREF convention and check below for the stories you might have missed.

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