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Women Breaking Barriers in Commercial Real Estate

The women of Compass Commercial Real Estate Services are making remarkable strides in the field of commercial real estate. Traditionally a male-dominated industry, women now comprise approximately 37% of its workforce. We take immense pride in those who are reaching milestones in their careers and defying stereotypes in commercial real estate.

In April 2023, broker Kristie Schmitt achieved a significant milestone by obtaining her Certified Commercial Investment Member (CCIM) designation. According to the CCIM website, less than 10% of commercial real estate professionals hold this prestigious designation, of which only 16% are females. Schmitt is an accomplished professional, having successfully closed Compass Commercial’s Largest Sale Transaction of the Year in 2019 and 2020 and the largest Lease Transaction of the Year in 2020.

“It’s important for me to be an example for those aspiring to grow their career,” Schmitt stated. “It’s a commission-only business, so to be an independent woman shows grit and determination. Hopefully, that resonates with clients and others in the office and this industry.”

Another noteworthy achiever, Caroline McDonald, obtained her Certified Property Manager (CPM®) designation in June 2023, making her one of only two women in Central Oregon with this designation. McDonald also holds a Real Property Administrator (RPA®) designation, has over 20 years of commercial real estate experience and successfully manages over 480,000 square feet of commercial properties as a Senior Property Manager at Compass Commercial.

“I felt it was important to have the credentials, but also obtaining the education and knowledge base was beneficial,” McDonald said. “Additionally, participating in classes with peers in the same profession allowed me to learn from their experiences.”

CREW reports that women hold a mere 9% of C-suite-level positions in commercial real estate. Compass Commercial currently has two female partners leading the company. Marketing Manager Ellisse Dickey was the most recent partner to gain the leadership position in 2022, becoming the first marketing staff personnel to accept a partnership position.

“Over my ten years of working for Compass, I’ve seen the leadership roles in the company mainly filled by male brokers. While this never really bothered me as the brokers are excellent at running a business, I always felt like they were missing the relationship component and employee perspective,” Dickey stated. “By having personal relationships with people in every department, I’m able to bring a more holistic view of the company to partner meetings allowing us to make better decisions to steer the company forward.”

“Having women ’at the table’ as one of the decision-makers is huge for other women in the company to see,” General Manager Tara O’Connor stated. “There is an intrinsic value to having a woman in that leadership role because it tends to foster a more open communication and adds a broader perspective to the conversation.”

Compass Commercial acknowledges the significance of women’s presence in the commercial real estate industry, with women playing vital roles across all aspects of the company’s operations. The majority of Compass Commercial’s managed properties are under the management of women. Women lead our marketing team, fill crucial brokerage support roles and account for two of the nine partners who drive the company’s success. In the past year, we have added six outstanding women to the brokerage, property management and construction services teams.

“I chose this job because it was something I wanted to do,” Construction Services’ newest Assistant Project Manager, Sarah Kowalski, said. “I enjoy my job and the projects I get to complete. I wasn’t going to let the notion of a ‘male-dominated’ industry deter me or choose something else because it was more ‘fit’ for a woman.”

Compass Commercial’s commitment to empowering the remarkable women in Central Oregon remains steadfast. These trailblazers redefine excellence daily. We are proud of their achievements and those of other women in the industry throughout Central Oregon.

O’Connor added, “We really acknowledge and respect the other women in this industry.”

“There are some great female brokers in this town,” Schmitt said. “I have phenomenal relationships with several who I completely trust.”

McDonald stated, “It’s inspiring to see women supporting women.”