We had the pleasure of talking with our VP of Construction and Sustainability, Emily Kleidman. She is responsible for the oversight and management of construction projects within the FWR’s portfolio as well as oversees the company-wide Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) program. Emily has managed numerous merchant built-out spaces as well as the redevelopment for shopping centers in FWR’s portfolio such as West Woods in Austin, TX and Cedar Park in Vienna, VA.
- How did you first get into commercial real estate?
I got into commercial real estate through my passion for construction and development. After college, I worked for a large general contractor where I interacted daily with commercial real estate owners. When the right opportunity came along to work at First Washington Realty (FWR), I transitioned to commercial real estate with a focus on portfolio construction.
- What are some of your biggest accomplishments while working at FWR?
My achievements at FWR focus on the growth and achievements of our merchants. I have had the opportunity to renovate shopping centers including West Woods in Austin, TX and Cedar Park in Vienna, VA. These projects allow our merchants to increase visibility and continue to expand their business.Equally as rewarding is building-out a space where I get to know and work alongside the merchant’s team. Whenever I am visiting the shopping center, there is an extra sense of pride to see a business succeed in their newly renovated space.Additionally, I am a founding member of the FWR Green Team and FWR Cares where we developed a company-wide Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) program that includes corporate volunteer days, property recycling programs, and sustainable merchant build-out guidelines. I am extremely proud to see the growth in ESG at FWR and the positive impact we have made and continue to make in the communities we serve.
- What are some of the most pressing issues that you think women leaders in CRE are facing today?
Equity in the workplace continues to be one of the biggest challenges for women, not just in the commercial real estate realm, but across many industries. It is especially important for women in leadership positions to use their voices and continue speaking up. It is not enough for women to take a seat at the table, but to join the conversation and make difference in their business.
- What is the most rewarding thing about the work you do?
I am lucky to work in a field that constantly reminds me how each completed physical space is benefitting the communities we serve and our merchants’ business and livelihood. Construction projects are driven by timelines, quality, and budget. This lends itself to meeting with an excited merchant for the delivery of their new space, a well-attended community event, and an enthusiastic jurisdiction which are all fulfilling experiences as a result of my work.
- Any advice for future CRE leaders?
Don’t forget to love what you do and take a step back to see the growth and progress you have made. It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day work. Be sure to not lose sight of the incredible impact you are making on the future.