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Building On Up: Pankow’s Vinson Talks Business and Personal Development

Connect Media’s Daniella Soloway caught up with Pankow Builders’ Director of Corporate Communications and upcoming panelist at Connect San Francisco, Kristina Owyoung Vinson, about Pankow’s development strategies, her experience in CREW SF’s Rising Leaders Committee, and what aspects of CREW’s 2015 Benchmark Study she found most surprising.

Q. Pankow develops across diverse markets. What’s the strategy for development in San Francisco?

A.  We focus on a diversity of work in different market sectors, with a focus on our people, which enables us to be responsive and service-oriented.

We embrace the latest technologies and scheduling tools that help us respond to the needs of our clients, amidst the time constraints of permitting, material procurement, code and regulation compliance. It takes time to construct projects. It’s our job to communicate effectively and establish realistic expectations with our clients.

Q. How has being a member in CREW SF’s Rising Leaders Committee positively impacted your CRE career? What advice would you give to a new professional in the industry? 

A.  I was really assertive in selecting mentors and sponsors. I was fortunate to find those people, but I also knew that not everyone is comfortable seeking out this type of support. The Rising Leaders Committee is the first such group of its kind; a young female leadership-oriented group specifically dedicated to advancing young leaders within commercial real estate.

Since Rising Leaders began, we have welcomed 25 Associate Members (individuals with 1-5 years of experience in the industry). We will continue to expand on the visibility of young women within commercial real estate, and foster mentorship and connections within CREW to help advance younger members.

My advice is to be proactive in finding a mentor or sponsor to help you grow. In addition, start early to establish a network of peers outside of your company. These connections will grow with you in the industry.  Your network is your net worth!

Q. Regarding CREW’s 2015 Benchmark Study, as a woman in CRE, what finding was most surprising to you, and why? 

A. There are two things that stood out to me.

Female respondents view relationships with internal senior executives as the main factor supporting future advancement. Notably, between 2010 and 2015, effective negotiation skills fell from the top five for female respondents, but remains as a top five factor for advancement for men. That’s surprising and disappointing. A large contributor to the gender pay gap is that women are hired into jobs at a lower salary than their male counterparts, because they do not negotiate as effectively as men. See How to Bridge the Stubborn Pay Gap. This is just one example of how negotiation skills are imperative for future success.

I reviewed this study with our Rising Leaders, and many were surprised that entry-level compensation is nearly equal between women and men, but the gap widens in the mid-career years. We must encourage women to strengthen and expand both their internal and external networks. To help close this compensation gap, we need to ensure that mentor and sponsorship activities include building relationships with high profile/high value clients to advance their careers.


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