Karen Whitt, President | Investor Services and Real Estate Management Services U.S. of Colliers International, has been named Director on CREW Network’s board. To celebrate, we asked her to complete our Member Spotlight Questionnaire. Congratulations Karen!
CREW Atlanta: What made you decide to work in the field you are in?
Karen Whitt: After I finished my English degree, I moved to San Diego and wanted to work for a while before starting a graduate program in social work. I interviewed with Janez Properties and, although I didn’t know what property management was, it went great and they offered me a position as a property assistant. I started taking CPM classes at UC San Diego after that, and haven’t looked back.
How do you think your profession may change in the next 10-20 years?
I think two big issues will change how we conduct business. First, and most important to me, is the role diversity will play in the leadership of the industry. We are already seeing women and minorities consistently take on bigger challenges in real estate, which is a trend I don’t see slowing down. Mentoring women and young professionals has always been an important part of my life, so I’m very excited to be part of this change.
Technology will also play a bigger and bigger role, with developments like augmented reality and the increasing popularity of mobile devices becoming critical for successful leasing and management operations. Considering many real estate professionals can still remember a time before managers all had cell phones, this is a pretty dramatic shift.
When and how did you join CREW?
I joined the CREW Atlanta chapter years ago when I was running the Southeast region of the U.S. for another company. It was a great network to be a part of, personally and professionally, and I’ve tried to stay involved ever since.
North Brunswick, New Jersey
I’m very lucky to be surrounded by a happy, supportive family. Between my husband, John, and my eight-year-old son, Riley, and our two dogs, my home always feels full (and a little hectic). My mother lives just down the street and is around a lot to help out. We also usually have at least one foster dog from Lucky Dog Animal Rescue that’s waiting for a forever home, so there’s always something going on.
If you had to pick a different job, what would it be?
A secret shopper! I have a passion for customer service and love thinking about the different approaches we can take to solving problems.
Craziest job you ever had?
I was a lifeguard during high school and college. Usually that meant lots of sunblock, long hot days and stacking chairs; but I did rescue a child drowning in the pool once.
Tell us one thing people might be surprised to know about you.
My family and I have fostered more than 400 dogs, mostly puppies, in the last ten years. There’s never a dull moment in our house!
If you were a brand, what would your personal slogan be?
Listen. Learn. Lead.
If you could only have one book to read the rest of your life, what would it be? Or what is the most influential book you have ever read?
I don’t think I could make do with just one book, but a few years ago I read The Alliance: Managing Talent in a Networked Age, co-written by LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman, and learned a lot. I’ve gone back to it a few times for pointers since finishing.
If you could have a freeway billboard sign with any content you wanted on it, what would it say?
Nothing. Enjoy the landscape!
Hobbies/interests? What do you do to relieve stress?
I’m on the go a lot, so I enjoy relaxing with my family whenever I’m able to get some down time. Recently, we’ve spent a lot of time at the beach, but I’m happy whether we spend a quiet weekend at home or visiting a new town.
Other than your career, what other skill would you like to develop most in life?
Cooking – I love to cook with my family and I’m always looking out for new recipes to try when I have time. We do have a rule though – if we don’t like it, we can always order pizza. Fortunately that has only happened once!
Ms. Whitt oversees property management assignments in the United States and leads business development activities. She is responsible for ensuring professional, competent management in all of Colliers markets. Her role also includes oversight of the Investor Services platform, which focuses on strategically connecting Colliers’ retail, industrial, office and multifamily, brokerage investment sales, project management and property management groups with investor clients.
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