The spotlight on gender equality has never been brighter, as the US has its first-ever female vice president and The White House will soon have a Gender Policy Council. With Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day coming up in March, 10 powerful women in real estate and beyond share lessons learned as female leaders from the COVID pandemic.
Arlinda Dine, EVP, new development marketing at Modern Spaces
Throughout her trailblazing career, Arlinda has worked on 40+ projects – including the tallest building in NYC’s outer boroughs, Skyline Tower – totaling 14 million square feet and $7 billion in sales. She explains how the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly affected the New York real estate market, “While the New York market experienced an initial decline in interest in purchasing units right off the bat when the pandemic hit, we’ve seen a turnaround specifically in condos in recent months. In fact, Modern Spaces has launched many new developments during the pandemic like The Ely, and has had a good interest in all of them.”
At Modern Spaces, she oversees a 10-person team and sees the benefit of having a well-balanced, gender-equal team as women offer unique insight into the real estate (and all other male-dominated) industries, “We are at a historic junction in time that demands female leadership. Our industry is at a tipping point and faces unprecedented challenges that require the unique insight and skill set that women can bring to any team.”
Carolyn Sebba, Senior Managing Director, New Development Marketing at Elegran
Carolyn Sebba is a veteran of the NYC real estate industry since 1989 who has closed more than $1 billion in real estate transactions. An active member of REBNY, she is a dedicated volunteer with iMentor and helps guide young adults and women through the journey of obtaining a college degree, “Our country is celebrating an exciting milestone, witnessing the inauguration of the first female Vice President, and an administration that is appointing more women and setting the tone for further progress. There are already many powerful women in real estate, and this will further substantiate the importance of creating an equal playing-field for all genders.”
Despite the ongoing pandemic, Carolyn Sebba stays hopeful that 2021 is going to be a strong year, “The first quarter has shown a resurgence of activity in Manhattan and the latest news reflects hope and restored confidence in the market. We are over the hump in terms of coping and adapting. Elegran, and the industry at large, have learned how to effectively handle the constraints imposed by the pandemic. The real estate community is resilient and determined. In hindsight, 2020 led to the most radical changes our industry has ever experienced, and we are more capable, and more prepared as a result.”
Natalie Diaz, Chief of Staff, Time Equities Inc.
Natalie Diaz joined the real estate investment and development company Time Equities Inc. (TEI) in 2011 as the Executive Assistant to the CEO and Director of Public Relations and is now Chief of Staff. She works with both the CEO and President of TEI to create and/or refine company-wide policies to support effective internal operations and interdepartmental communication. Natalie Diaz oversees all marketing and communications for the firm, as well as Human Resources.
“Nothing about COVID has been easy, especially the immediate shift to full time remote work, increased pressure and responsibility as a result of the economic impacts of the pandemic, and for many women, the challenges of working from home while taking care of kids- remote learning, domestic duties that have been magnified, having partners in the house that are also trying to work remotely for a full day, and so on. It is undeniable that there has been much more of a burden on women during this time to “do it all”. I think it is extremely important to develop routines that allow us to carve time out for ourselves to manage the challenges of this time. Many things in this world are outside of our control, but one thing we can control is taking time for ourselves every single day, to carve out space for what we need.”
Elana Friedman, Chief Marketing Officer, AKA
As Chief Marketing Officer of AKA, the leader of hotel residences, Elana oversees all aspects of the brand’s marketing strategy. In her 10+ years at AKA, she has been recognized for identifying brand-right business collaborations and approaching challenges with a cross-functional mindset. As a visionary leader, Elana encourages the next generation of leaders to ask questions, think bigger and bring ideas to the table. Elana appreciates the “all hands-on deck” structure the COVID-19 pandemic has required, as it enabled her team to step out of their comfort zone and into less familiar territory. For Elana, the opportunity to explore different areas of AKA’s business and contribute in new ways has been a valuable silver lining. Even amid the heavy challenges the past year brought, Elana has been motivated by her team’s unwavering commitment to AKA, to colleagues and to the overall guest experience.
Fiona Quinn, Vice President of Business Affairs, AvantStay
Fiona Quinn spearheads business affairs for technology and experience-first short-term rental brand AvantStay, including policy & risk assessment, landlord relations and people & talent. A force to be reckoned with, Fiona has been an influential contributor to the short-term rental industry. In terms of what’s next for the year ahead, Fiona predicts the short-term rental industry to experience hyper-growth as remote work continues into 2021 and as large-scale operators like AvantStay showcase the value the platform brings to communities and local economies across the U.S.
Rochelle Maize, Executive Director of Luxury Estates, Nourmand & Associates
Los Angeles’ real estate maven Rochelle Maize is one of the country’s top-producing agents with more than one billion dollars in sales. Last year, the pandemic did not stop Maize from selling over $100M in luxury residential real estate across Southern California’s most prestigious neighborhoods to high-net-worth individuals and celebrity clientele like e BCBG Herve Leger designer Max Azria, beauty leader Dr. Howard Murad, and luxury developer Adnan Sen. As Executive Director of Luxury Estates at Nourmand & Associates, Rochelle again cemented her status as Beverly Hills’ most innovative luxury real estate agent when she created the first-ever COVID-19 cleaning room and conceptualized a “house service” partnership with The Beverly Hills Hotel at her $18M Beverly Hills Estate listing.
Myra Nourmand, Principal and Luxury Real Estate Agent, Nourmand & Associates
Known as Los Angeles’ First Lady of Real Estate, Myra Nourmand is one of the owners/principals of Nourmand & Associates, one of LA’s last remaining family-owned brokerages. In an industry typically dominated by male leadership, Myra has successfully led Nourmand to continual growth and expansion in the Los Angeles real estate market. She has nearly 30 years of unrivaled expertise, specializing in luxury properties in the city’s most covetable neighborhoods and has sold countless amounts of properties, ranging from $1 million to $60, while calling upon Hollywood’s elite as clientele.
Dion Duyck, Partner & Senior Managing Director, B6 Real Estate Advisors
As Partner and Managing Director of Marketing and Communications for B6 Real Estate Advisors, Dion Duyck is responsible for the planning, development and implementation of the firm’s branding strategy and public relations initiatives. She oversees the company’s significant deployment of technology to achieve the company’s marketing and communications aims which will allow its agents to more efficiently conduct their business activities.
“During a time when companies have had to evolve countless practices and implement new policies, I’m proud to work for a company that has gone above and beyond to ensure its team members have the necessary resources to work remotely and continue to be successful. As a female leader in my industry, an unwavering commitment to integrity and collaboration, especially during these times, is a big part of delivering superior results that I’m proud of. I’m also grateful to work with a transparent team that allows room for open and honest conversations.”
Florence Quinn, Founder, Quinn
Florence Quinn has shaped a real-estate and lifestyle PR firm Quinn into a powerhouse that represents some of the best names in the industry (Glenwood, LeFrak, Turnberry, Swire, Time Equities)
“I feel like the lockdown let me out of a cage I didn’t know I was in. Without the office commute, I can enjoy the morning, my home and the people in it, plus I have more time for myself. It’s super easy and effective to communicate with staff and clients via Zoom. When we return to our offices it will be on flex time, which will be terrific for parents. This is a great time to be a woman in real estate. These are unprecedented times for authenticity, diversity and individuality. All we have to do is keep bringing our best selves to the table.”
Adelina Wong Ettelson, Global Head of Residences Marketing at Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group
Adelina Wong Ettelson plays an instrumental role in Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group’s Residential Division, where she successfully launched branded residential properties in locations ranging from Bodrum, to New York, to Bangkok and more. Since the start of Covid, like many others, Ettelson has been juggling her career and spending time with family, resetting from life in the city, traveling the world virtually and learning new trends, all without a missing a beat in her global real estate role. Ettelson’s forward-thinking approach, as well as being able to lead and manage multi-lingual, multinational teams with creativity, storytelling and strategic planning have proven that she is a leader in the real estate industry.