NAI Maestas & Ward’s Debbie Harms on women in commercial real estate and innovation in technology
Debbie Harms is the CEO of NAI Maestas & Ward Commercial Real Estate.
How long have you been working in the industry? I have worked in commercial real estate since 1991. Before that, I worked in commercial construction.
When did you know you wanted to work in contracting/real estate? Since I was a kid. I have always been fascinated with real estate and its use. Once you build something on a piece of real estate, it’s set, you can’t do something else with it. I have always been fascinated with knowing how to get the best use/value for any particular piece of real estate.
What was the hardest project you’ve ever worked on and why? I tend to look at transactions/projects as possibilities or opportunities. If something is super hard, it typically means it either shouldn’t be done, or you are going about it wrong. There are plenty of ways to get a deal done, you just have to think about it more.
How do we get more women involved in commercial real estate and construction jobs? Commercial real estate is either appealing to you, or it isn’t. It takes a lot of knowledge, education, tenacity, networking, perseverance and honor to work in commercial real estate. It’s not easy, there are no “free lunches” and the standard is high. The way we get more women in commercial real estate is to teach them as young girls that they are equal to any man, and more importantly, we teach them that respect is earned, not given. You earn respect by doing the homework, doing the analysis, doing the research and being prepared. You earn respect by working with your clients, going the extra step, taking the extra time, giving the extra thought and being ready when the time is right.
What do changes/innovations in technology mean for your industry?Technology for any industry means learning to do things differently. Some technology is great, some not so great, some inconsequential. Technology is changing commercial real estate from several directions, just like it is every other industry. While the internet has allowed buyers/sellers/tenant/landlords to all be infinitely more knowledgeable about real estate, it has also created the need for brokers who have a better, more solid grasp on the intricacies and nuances of the transactions. Technology creates a playing field where the game is played at a higher, more strategic level.Juliana Vadnais, Assistant Managing Editor - Albuquerque Business First