2016 Emerging Leader of the Year Jennifer Hanson

Jennifer Hanson, Assistant Real Estate Manager with CBRE, Inc. at 20 North Michigan and 600 West Fulton, was named the 2016 Gold Circle Awards Emerging Leader of the Year.

What was your first paying job? My first paying job was a cashier at a local grocery store. I remember enjoying interacting with all kinds of people and most importantly using the intercom to request a, 'PRICE CHECK!' My job responsibilities taught me at a young age the value of serving others and how being positive and accommodating can add value to a business. 

It’s been said you stumbled into the commercial real estate industry. How were you introduced to the industry and what attracted you to it? After temping for months at a CBRE managed property, it was clear that I belonged on that team to support them full time. I was given the opportunity and committed myself to learning the industry from the best at my building and within CBRE. I was attracted to the aspect of serving owners and tenants while generating solutions and collaborating with them to ensure a profitable and productive property. I definitely stumbled at first, but am now running as a result of the phenomenal leadership and guidance of my management team and CBRE.

What are some sustainability initiatives you have been working on in your building? Sustainability is about integrating initiatives into the culture of our building and engaging tenants in long term goals. We pride ourselves on introducing new recycling efforts to tenants on a consistent basis. Most recently, we have placed K-Cup and plastic bag collection boxes in the building to encourage employees to recycle these common office items. We offer free parking to employees on the day they bring large electronic items in to recycle. In an effort to continuously boost our recycling initiatives we display creative signage in the lobby to always keep our goals visible to our tenants. 

What are some of the ways you work with your tenants to support the community and what has been the impact? Each season presents opportunities for giving. In the colder months we partner with BOMA/Chicago for the annual Greater Chicago Food Drive. We emphasize the importance of this program by displaying the collection box in the lobby and sharing motivational emails throughout the drive to reach our goal. Each spring when tenants find themselves purging items during spring cleaning, we encourage them to bring in clothes, shoes, toys, grooming and toiletry supplies for the Pacific Garden Mission, a Chicago south loop homeless shelter. We welcome ideas year around from tenants as ways to support our community.  

What BOMA/Chicago events or programs or most meaningful to you? The Brown Bags Seminars offered through BOMA/Chicago are an excellent way to gain knowledge on pertinent topics that are essential in building management. I always walk away from these with a broader perspective and understanding of the topics presented. The Q&A sessions at the end of each seminar foster an effective learning and sharing experience. Each year, I look forward to the Diversity Celebration where well deserving professionals are recognized and awarded the Reginald L. Ollie Inclusion and Outreach Scholarships. It's a remarkable and purposeful event that I would tell professionals not to miss!

What role has CRE education played in your career and do you have advice to others in the industry regarding professional development? The training and development opportunities that CBRE and BOMA/Chicago have offered have greatly honed my skill set. The informative and relevant topics that are presented have impacted my productivity. I encourage people entering the real estate industry and those very well-seasoned professionals to take full advantage of CRE training. The training and development that CBRE offers to their employees showcases the investment they put in them and I am thankful for that. I would advise others to select a path within the industry and fully immerse themselves in training and be inspired to grow and learn.

Do you have advice for other emerging leaders about how to stand out from the crowd? Be yourself! Be social, interact and meet people daily in a variety of social and work settings. I encourage others (and myself) to continually move and adapt to change and welcome growth that ultimately sharpens your skill set and rounds out your vision. Create a personal mission statement that you can reflect on regularly and measure performance against. 

What are some of your interests and hobbies outside of work? Photography and video production is where I satisfy my creative calling. I shoot every day whether I’m on the el train to work or in a high rise after a meeting. I worked with Stevie Nicks on a video shoot once and will never forget that experience.  I love being outside whether it be gardening, walking my dog Bruce, hiking or being on a lake!

What is some of the best (or worst) advice you have ever received? The best advice I ever received was from my parents, ‘Do your very best in all your endeavors, for the smallest task can make the greatest impact!’