Alison Beddard has long been an advocate for women in the commercial real estate industry, and her recent appointment as 2016 President-Elect of the CREW (Commercial Real Estate Women) Network will give her an even greater opportunity to make a difference.
Beddard, who serves as director of office and investments at Cushman & Wakefield/Commerce, hopes she can provide an empowering example of the possibilities for women in business. She notes that women make up about 40 percent of the commercial real estate industry, but only 15 percent hold any kind of key leadership role. To her, that’s a real disconnect, and she has some big plans to help those numbers change.
For example, the CREW executive team and board of directors just launched a certificate leadership program where agents can earn an industry-level credential based on various areas of commercial real estate. The certificate program includes courses on anything from confidence building to negotiations and public speaking.
“We found that women don’t typically get those opportunities in their work life,” Beddard says. “And there’s no way to break out of your current role if you’re not given some tools to build your leadership abilities.”
She believes the leadership program will give more women the skills and confidence to pursue leadership roles. “They probably have not been given the same opportunities and connections to get to the senior leadership positions,” she says. “We want to put the best minds in the room and ensure everyone has an equal playing field to get there.”
As she embarks on this new leadership role with CREW, Beddard hopes to inspire other women to step into leadership roles in any capacity. “For some it will be to reach the C-suite, for others it will be to speak up in a meeting and be empowered to say something,” she says.
Beddard is the youngest CREW Network president-elect, but serving in CREW leadership positions is nothing new for her. She served on the national board of directors for CREW Network, on the CREW Utah board of directors and as chapter president, where she helped to increase sponsorships and membership by 80 percent.
Beddard developed her passion for advancing women in the industry early in her career. Nine months in, she was approached by one of her firm’s most successful men to join his team. “I thought it was going to be a really great opportunity,” she says.
When she learned that he wanted to pay her 10 percent, however, she declined the opportunity—even if that meant turning down the chance to work on a team and learn from more experienced agents.
“I knew I could not be 10 percent,” Beddard recalls. “Even if it meant a harder road, I knew my strength was going to be working with the clients, advising the clients and consulting with them. So I took the harder road, and I have always been my own agent.”
As 2016 president-elect of CREW, Beddard hopes to convince every commercial real estate company to support the organization. “It’s less about money,” she says. “It’s more about the support, because that’s the kind of progress that’s meaningful. That’s going to make an impact.”