Ops Insights

20 Inspiring Women who are Changing the Culture in Real Estate

It wasn’t too long ago when a remark like “That’s a man’s job” was just accepted as the norm.

For the longest time, the choices we made in the workforce were dictated not by an individual’s calibre but by their gender.

Just to give context:

It took the Academy awards, 81 years to award ‘best director’ to a woman.

US presidential nominations? It was an astronomical 227 years for the first woman nominee!

And the first woman on the moon? We’re yet to get there.

But this is all coming to an end – our time for redemption is here.

Because women are obliterating every roadblock in rewriting the culture, the impact of women in the workplace is undeniable

Look no further than commercial real estate:

According to Globest, women now hold 43% of commercial real estate positions worldwide – a proud feat, when you consider just a little over a century ago when the National Association of Realtors was founded, it had a grand total of zero women.

At Facilio, we’re always looking for role models and as our tribute to International Women’s Day, we wanted to honor 20 women in the highly competitive field of real estate and property management.

Note: While there are far more than twenty to highlight, these are women from across the globe who have carved a unique path to success. Be sure to tweet to us @FacilioInc if we missed anyone you think we shouldn’t have, so we can continue to grow the list.

So without further ado, get to know these successful women, from across the world, who are opening doors for themselves and inspiring others in the industry.

20 Inspiring Women in Property Management

Debra Tantleff

Debra is a highly accomplished & motivated real estate professional who is best known for her role as the Founding Principal of TANTUM Real Estate, where she operates a certified Women’s Business Enterprise development and advisory firm focused on creating boutique multi-family and mixed-use communities in New Jersey.

Earlier she served as Vice President of Development at Roseland Property Company, where she established a highly-acclaimed reputation for delivering exceptional mixed-use projects.

She has numerous accolades to her name such as the ROI-NJ’s 2018 Real Estate Influencers List, recognition as a “Top Forty Under 40” both by Real Estate Forum in 2012 and NJBiz in 2016, and in 2015 received the Women Builders Council’s Outstanding Women Award.

Christine Lezette

Christine Lezette is the Operations Director for AESI, Christine Lezette handles a broad scope of management for the company including strategic project planning, compliance management, and business operations.

In her professional career in environmental science and real estate, she works closely with Developers, CRE Brokers, and Land Use Attorneys and she recognizes the importance of surrounding herself with strong women who are leaders and influencers in the industry.

Now in her 8th year with AESI, she is proud that nearly half of all employees and 2/3 of their senior management team, which includes Christine, are women.

Salam .I .ILayyan

Salam .I .ILayyan is a veteran in facilities management with over a decade experience – she is an expert in a variety of fields including Mechanical, Electrical Systems, ISO Standards, and Electrical Engineering and is the Associate Director at Khidmah.

She holds a bachelor’s degree in Power Electrical Engineering and MBA-Finance from New York University. Her technical expertise complemented with a relentless quest for innovation won her the Facilities Manager of the Year at the fmME Awards 2017.

Aretha Drakeford

Aretha Drakeford is the Director of Facilities Management for Family Dollar in North Carolina where she has worked for more than 25 years now. She’s an FM expert and is acknowledged for her expertise in operations management, retail, and team building.

Lynn Baez

Lynna Baez is the Head of Facilities at Google with a keen focus on life cycle operations for the built environment. Lynn is known for her successful and dynamic leadership in high-pressure environments, specializing in management of buildings, corporate security, environmental, safety, and health (SEHS).

Maureen Ehrenberg

Maureen Ehrenberg is the Global Head of Digital Facility and Asset Management Services. She’s been in the trenches for over 25 years now, holding various senior management positions in the time. Prior to joining WeWork, Maureen was the President of Global Integrated Facility Management & International Director at JLL.

Maureen’s understanding of how to drive value and deliver on strategies has earned her the reputation of an innovator among real estate executives. She is known for delivering breakthrough results and service innovation through creative, value-add solutions with a focus on ROI.

In 2018, Real Estate Forum Magazine inducted Maureen into its Hall of Fame as a leading woman of influence in commercial real estate. She was honored in 2018 with a lifetime achievement award by RealComm as one of 20 visionaries who have changed the industry through technology.

Elizabeth Dukes

Elizabeth Dukes is a co-founder at iOffice and has provided innovative facilities management solutions to hundreds of Fortune 1000 corporations since 1989 and focuses on the marketing, sales, customer solution implementation and ongoing customer satisfaction.

With more than two decades of experience, she is one of the most sought-after speakers at IFMA Worldwide, CoreNet, Future Office, and Realcomm/CoreTech. She’s also co-authored a book titled, Wide Open Workspace.

Nuala Harkin

Nuala Harkin is the Head of facilities at Itsu. She has over 17 years of experience in the Retail telecoms sector and is an expert in shopfitting, construction, maintenance, and telecoms.

Chris Bennett

Chris Bennets is the Head of Real Estate, Property and Facilities at Lloyd’s Register  She works within global corporate real estate both at a strategic and hands-on operational level in numerous countries and regions both in developed and emerging markets.

Her expertise includes real estate strategy, portfolio management, workplace strategy, optimization and transformation estate and facilities management.

Beth Borowski

Beth Borowski is the director of Facilities at CNA corporation where she’s leading the facilities team for nearly 20 years now.

She is an expert in strategic planning, facilities management, program management and sustainability.

Claire Hennesy

Claire is the Estates & Facilities Director for Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust in England. Prior to that, she was the Head of Operational Estates and Facilities Services at Oxford Universities Hospitals NHS Trust, where she oversaw a large multi-disciplinary estates team to manage the retained estates services.

Under her leadership, the Operational Estates team successfully delivered a multi-award-winning £14.7M energy project that has reduced energy costs for the Trust by £200K per month.

Her contributions saw the team win the IHEEM Healthcare award of Estates and Facilities team of the year 2018.

Carly Melling

Carly Melling is the Operations Manager at Berkeley Group and has over a decade of experience in property management. She has managed challenging sites ranging from one up one down-converted property to multi-million-pound newbuild sites.

Zainab Mohammed

Zainab Mohammed is the CEO of property management and marketing at Dubai property developer wasl.

She was ranked 10th most powerful Arab woman in 2015 by CEO Middle East and as one of the 30 most influential women in the Arab world by Arabian Business global.

In her role, she leads more than 100 employees in eight major divisions across sales and marketing, customer service, legal and collection, tenant management and support and operations.

In a career stretching over 15 years, she’s built a reputation as one of the biggest driving forces behind Dubai’s real estate sector and is seen as someone who is always on the lookout for new opportunities, pursuing them to their fullest and driving strong growth.

Veronica Warmington

Veronica is the Head Of Facilities Management for EY Africa with more than 15 years of experience in operations. She graduated from the University of Johannesburg and Africa Facilities Management and is an expert in Budgeting, Strategy Development, and Implementation.

She is in charge of a wide-ranging portfolio comprising 11 locations in South African spanning over 30 000 sqm of real estate where she’s responsible for the development and implementation of the Facilities Management Strategy.

Her everyday role involves implementing and driving activities and processes which support enhanced workplace experience, efficiency, compliance, sustainability and continuity in the workplace.

Yasmin Ahmed

Yasmin Ahmed is a seasoned property management professional who has more than 25 years of experience in Property and Facilities Management. She’s operated on both strategic and operational levels.

She’s highly skilled in building management and in particular SLA Development, Implementation and Monitoring, Planning and Process Development.

She currently operates as a Consultant for Property Management, Facilities Management, Space Planning Consultant, Building Management, Sustainable Building Management, and Strategic Facilities Management,

Vivian Adeyinka Okwor

Vivian is the Head of Facilities Management for Ecobank Nigeria. She has over 15 years of experience as a real estate practitioner in the public sector, professional private practice, and financial services industry.

Her expertise includes public land administration, real estate valuations and appraisals, consultancy, mortgages advisory, feasibility & viability studies, project development, real estate finance and investment, portfolio optimization and strategy, property acquisitions and disposal, facilities management and maintenance.

She currently leads a team that manages and co-ordinates a real estate portfolio comprising over 400 business locations and other real estate investment assets.

Nihal Tawfik Nas

Nihal Nasr is the Head of Facility Management at CIB Egypt and has over 15 years of experience in facilities management. Her expertise includes banking, negotiations, analytical skills, ITIL, and Management.

Sangeetha. B

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Sangeetha is the Deputy CEO at Al Fajer. With more than 25 years of experience across the diverse worlds of banking, construction and facilities management, Sangeetha has relentlessly driven Al Fajer with a focus on performance, using innovative technologies, and advanced training of personnel, including the BICS certification for its entire cleaning team.

Under her leadership, Al Fajer FM has increased its commitment to offering sustainable solutions.

Donna Frick

Donna is the Director of Facilities & Safety at Mitchell International. Her career has spanned well over 15 years now. She is highly endorsed for her expertise in facilities management, cross-functional leadership, and process improvement.

She has been Communications Committee Chair since 2011 at IFMA San Diego and was awarded the IFMA 2013 professional of the year.

Vaishali Bhansali

Vaishali is currently the Head of Properties and Facilities, Vodafone Idea ltd. She has 17 years of experience in handling Administration and Facilities Management and is known for highly analytical, organized and strong leadership skills.

In her current role, she is leading a team of over 300 employees across multiple locations.

Her day-to-day role involves:

  • Heading Administration, Infrastructure & Facilities
  • Heading the Emergency Response Team (ERT), Health Safety & Wellbeing (HSW) and Security Crisis Management (SCM) Teams
  • Property survey, acquisition, project management & transition as per business needs among other responsibilities.

Kathy Chiu

Kathy is the Director of Operations, Real Estate and Facilities JAPAC for Oracle in Singapore. She has over 18 years of experience in property management. Prior to her current role, Kathy has held leadership positions at Facebook, RBS, and JLL.

Throughout her career, she’s led teams in locations including Australia, China, Singapore, Hong Kong, Thailand, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea and Japan and has managed over a million sq.ft. in the period.

Kate Bannister

Kate is a leader in facilities management and a Member of BIFM with experience in operations, projects and strategy working in multiple industries defining and delivering customer focussed, compliant workspace requirements, investment programs, and FM services.

She is the Regional Director, Real Estate and Facilities at GSK, United Kingdom.

Jillian Del Pozo

Jillian is the Facilities & Operations Workplace Services Leader for Arup. She has nearly 20 years of experience in facilities management.

Prior to this, she was the Director of Facilities and Operations at the Stanford Law School where she was a key cog at both managerial and operational levels – from designing and planning office spaces to serving as an administrative manager and then facility manager – and finally, to facilities and operations director – her experiences over the past 20 years in the industry have given her a broad skill set that she puts to great use in her current capacity.

Kelsey Nakamura

Kelsey Nakamura joined Cushman & Wakefield in 2012. Ms. Nakamura focuses on all aspects of office brokerage, including both tenant and landlord representation.

Throughout her career she has negotiated over 3 million square feet of leases, with an aggregate deal value of over $616 million and has won recognitions aplenty:

In 2013 and 2015, she was ranked one of New Jersey’s top brokers and received a CoStar Power Broker award.

In 2014, she was recognized in Real Estate Forum’s “Tomorrow’s Leaders – New Jersey”, designated a Cushman & Wakefield Rising Star, and served on the team presented with United Way’s 2014 Commercial Real Estate Impact Award.

In 2015, she was recognized internally as the Tri-State Top Producing Associate Vice President.


To every woman out there making history, one day at a time, take our bow!

P.S: Does the post remind you of a woman colleague or friend in real estate and property management, who’s changing the trend? Leave us a  message on Twitter or Linkedin, and we’ll be happy to consider adding them to the list!