Bridge Women's Network
Our mission is to be the firm’s key resource and point of advocacy for the most current research, programming, practices and opportunities for dialogue and collaboration, and to provide a firm-wide platform to recruit and promote female career development, develop relationships internally between groups, and provide leadership opportunities.
Q3 Spotlights: Voice Of Experience
BWN Leadership Exchange
The BWN Women’s Leadership Exchange welcomed Diane DiResta, a specialist in improving communication effectiveness, presenting with impact, and enhancing executive presence. In a highly interactive session, participants shared their experiences and challenges in communicating effectively and claiming a seat at the table while Diane provided tools and best practices to increase presence and build leadership brand. Want to learn more about executive presence? View one of the articles below!
Professional Development: FeedBack
Asking For Feedback
Feedback is a wonderful tool which can help you improve and excel by leaps and bounds. But how do you obtain it? This course will walk you through the who, when, and how of asking for feedback, giving you the scoop on getting the scoop.
"Feedback is the breakfast of champions: Are you getting your proper intake of feedback?" By getting regular feedback, and properly digesting it, you're feeding the need for self-awareness. This course will teach you how to use these morsels of information to identify where you're at, and which way you should head, so you can blaze a trail to success.
The course introduces the concept of emotional intelligence and highlights why it matters in the workplace and then covers the Giving Feedback Model, a method to structure your feedback for smooth delivery. By the end of the course, you will have a better understanding of how to provide effective formal and informal feedback as well as recognize how using emotional intelligence can enhance the effects of your feedback.
Mentorship Program Update:
The Art of Speaking Up
Members of BWN’s Analyst and Associate Mentorship Program were invited to attend a communications workshop in June titled, "The Art of Speaking Up." In this session, lessons were taught on how to claim your voice, positively assert yourself and increase your impact in 1:1 and group communication settings. The program was delivered by Sara Bakker from Exec-Comm.
Sara specializes in presentation and speaking skills, as well as helping professionals to enhance their executive presence in various business settings. She has worked in and with people in the financial services industry among many others. Before joining Exec-Comm in 2006, Sara was an educator and actor for the Utah Shakespearean Festival. She has toured internationally, performed Off-Broadway and regionally, as well as in feature films and on television.
Sara discussed the importance of speaking up and how it not only improves team performance, but company performance as well. Many people avoid using their voice because of intimidation and corporate hierarchy, fear of being perceived as confrontational or repercussions, nervousness about not knowing enough, lack of leadership support or a feeling that their voice will not make a difference in the direction of a project. Some of the pointers Sara provided for speaking up are to say something in the first 5 minutes of a meeting in order to set the pace and use questions as an effective tool. By speaking up more, you enhance your visibility, you can earn the reputation of having assertive leadership qualities, you can prevent potential issues from getting out of hand or going down the wrong path, and you can get people to rethink their position or identify issues in a plan.
The BIG takeaway: Bridge wants to hear from you!
As leaders become more senior, it often becomes harder to get feedback and insight on how to improve. The purpose of the BWN Leadership Exchange, which launched early this year, was to provide peer support and a network for female leaders who were recently promoted or given expanded roles to grow in those positions. The topics covered throughout the year were based on both best practices for senior leaders as well as input from the participants themselves. Members heard from Bob Morse about what leadership at Bridge looks like, discussed relationship building and leadership challenges, had candid conversations about giving and receiving mid-year feedback, participated in a special extended session with New York Speech Coaching to discuss speaking in front of a crowd, and attended a workshop moderated by Diane DiResta about executive presence, communication, and personal branding.
Many members also received one-on-one communication coaching with Diane DiResta. Riley Spargen, Managing Director and Bridge Treasurer, said, "I really found the 1:1 coaching session useful. I tend to over explain when nervous and she really helped me understand how to redirect the conversation when I find myself in that situation." A group of women from the Leadership Exchange also met in person during the Knowledge Exchange at the end of October. Unfortunately we have no photos to share, but it was a great dining experience with fellow BWN colleagues and a much needed evening full of casual conversation!
Members will meet this month to provide feedback on the program and thoughts for next year. We look forward to welcoming next year's senior promoted class to the BWN Leadership Exchange!
2022 BWN Leadership Exchange
Learning & Development
It's that time at the end of year where we are all focused on what we have been able to accomplish throughout the year and making plans for next year. Did you find that you were not able to accomplish all of your goals in 2022? Do you have goals for 2023 that you need to figure out how to implement? Check out this quick course to help you in Creating a Work Plan to accomplish your goals for next year.
If you're looking for more on this, check out this article on how to "Plan the work, then work the plan"
Even those who are not managers can find ways to use the strategies to help them achieve their goals for the coming year!
Creating a Work Plan
We're Better Together
BWN - NYC Chapter
Many of our NYC BWN Members participated in networking lunches sponsored by the CREFC Women’s Network in New York recently. The event, which occurs several times a year, provides members an opportunity to meet other women in the CRE industry in an informal setting across various experience levels and provides a great mentoring and networking opportunity. Jeehae Lee (Sr. Managing Director and Deputy CIO, Bridge Debt Strategies) and Elizabeth Attubato (Associate, Bridge Debt Strategies) pictured on the right.
BWN - SLC Chapter
Bridge Women's Network Salt Lake City office participated in the Pretty Tough Ladies Coat Drive for 2022. The group collected coats, blankets, hats and gloves to donate to this amazing organization. All together the community brought in 233 coats, 50 hats, 31 pairs of gloves, 34 scarves, 52 blankets and 23 pairs of boots for women, men and children of all ages! We want to send a huge thank you to all of our communities and corporate employees who helped reach these numbers!
BWN Represents at CREW Convention
Tina Renee McCall (Bridge Office and CREW Atlanta), Jo Rathburn (Bridge Office & Solar and CREW DC) and Alex Schwerdt (Bridge Development and CREW Utah) represented Bridge Investment Group at the CREW Global Convention, networking with 1,500 other women from around the globe.
Voice of Experience
The BWN Mentoring Program pairs senior leaders with up and coming analysts and associates across the firm. In this quarter's interview, one of our mentor-mentoree teams participated in a Q&A session. Enjoy this peak into the mentorship as Tamanna gets Martha's insights on leadership and management!
Martha Agarwal (Mentor)
Tamanna Badhan (Mentee)
Director, Bridge Debt Strategies
Associate, Bridge Research
Martha Agarwal and Tamanna Badhan were paired through the inaugural BWN Analyst Mentoring Program at the beginning of 2021. Martha signed up to be a mentor because developing relationships with other women in the industry is important to her, regardless of whether they are senior, junior or the same experience level. This was Martha’s first time participating in a formal mentoring program, but she had always been surrounded by, and had access to other women at all levels. She recalled thinking after her first meeting with Tamanna, "Oh my, I really don't know what I have to offer here…"
Being in two different groups and in different locations, the two did a great job connecting over the next few sessions. Tamanna came prepared with questions at each meeting with the purpose of gaining a better understanding of the Bridge organization and its various verticals. Through monthly Zoom calls, Tamanna's questions developed into additional sessions which the two called "teach-ins." Tamanna chose the topics based on what was most relevant to her at the time. Topics ranged from cap rates & valuation, market analysis & site selection, to fund structure and even bond structures. Martha acted as a “Knowledge Connector,” by reaching out to other subject matter experts within Bridge who could teach on these fields. Tamanna expertly used the mentor program as a place to gain a better understanding of industry themes that are indirectly related to her role but make her better at her job. The two have continued to meet throughout 2022 even though Tamanna now has another mentor in the program. We hope you gain some helpful insight into the benefits of the mentorship program as Tamanna asks Martha questions answered below:
Tamanna: "An individual who is at the beginning phase of their career often struggles to understand different leadership styles that their managers follow. It took me a while to get up to speed with the different approaches to managing individuals and projects that my team leads had. As you have spent years managing individuals, teams, and projects, what style of leadership worked for you as a manager?"
Martha: "I prefer to lead by example and don’t tend to ask others to do anything I wouldn’t be willing to do myself. As one would expect with the way Bridge Debt Strategies’ business has grown over the past few years, so have the demands on the debt asset management team. Learning how to delegate effectively and empower others has been top of mind. Before beginning a project, task, or even answering an email I try to ask myself a few questions first: is this something that needs to be addressed by me, is this the best use of my time, is this something that can be delegated, and is this something that an analyst or associate could learn from by running with it?"
Tamanna: "What are some of the struggles you faced while leading a team or managing individuals with different levels of motivation or skills? Did you have to change your style of leadership based on the individual you are managing?"
Martha: “As I’m going through the delegation thought process, how I manage each individual is definitely something I keep in mind. I try to consider who might benefit from a particular project or task and delegate appropriately. If an employee is less motivated, sometimes it takes a little more following up and/or coaching along the way to be sure things get done in a timely manner and they are learning at the same time. Many times, the motivation can be lacking because of a lack of knowledge and once they know what they’re doing and are empowered they can take on more in the future.”
Tamanna: “Women who are at the early stages of their careers often suffer from imposter syndrome – doubting their skills and accomplishments more than their male counterparts. This is perhaps more prevalent in a male-dominated industry such as real estate. Were you ever faced with imposter syndrome and how would you suggest tackling it?”
Martha: “It's not just women in the early stages of the career --- it is way more common than you might think! I think men and women both experience imposter syndrome and at all stages of their career, some more than others. I find myself facing imposter syndrome often. The typical strategy people use to deal with it is to work harder – but that doesn’t do much to change the psychological nature of imposter syndrome. Experts in the matter suggest that acknowledging your feelings and talking about them with a trusted network helps you to feel less overwhelmed and realize you’re not the only one that feels that way. I have found this to be good advice and a perfect justification for joining a mentoring program!”
Tamanna: “Aiming for a leadership role often comes with taking on more assignments, and responsibilities and spending more time at work. As you have grown in your career and taken on more responsibilities, how did you find work/life balance or integration?”
Martha: “This is a tough question because I think it is a constant struggle. Work and life seem to be comingled, especially with the new hybrid work model we have seen post-covid. It can be very difficult but staying focused while working is critical to allow yourself the ability to put work away and focus on family demands later in the day. Delegation and time management are also key to being able to take on more responsibility and a larger workload. So is having a reliable, smart, and empowered team. When those who work with you are well trained, and cross-trained, it allows everyone on the team more flexibility.”
Tamanna: “Let’s unpack remote/hybrid work a little more. What strategies did you find to be useful while working remotely? Distractions at home are often different than those in the office. What are some of the best practices you follow while working from home?”
Martha: “A change in setting can be very helpful – keep the work in one room of the house and resist moving your laptop to other rooms unless necessary. This helps keep the two parts of your life separate. Being flexible is key. There are days I am unavailable for a few hours to take care of appointments at school or doctors, but I recognize that means I may play catch up later in the day. However, being the parent of a thirteen-year-old boy who is new to having an iPhone, I try to set a good example and put the phone away while the kids are around, limiting my use during the evenings.
This quote is now famous because of her new book, but I heard Indra Nooyi, former CEO of PepsiCo, speak a few years ago and she talked about how her mother told her to ‘leave the crown in the garage.’ Her mother said this to remind her that at home she is a mom and a wife who needs to be present in her personal life, not allowing her job to be all-consuming. Sounds like very good advice to me!”
Tamanna: “It’s always great to hear stories and life lessons from our mentors and it’s arguably one of the top reasons why we seek out mentors in the first place. If you were speaking to the next generation of female leaders, what are some of the lessons you would share that will help them grow in their careers?”
Martha: “I would encourage anyone in the early stages of their career to find others with more experience that they can learn from. Find someone you are comfortable with asking questions of – because there will be, and should be, plenty of questions! Many women are afraid to speak up or ask questions for fear of how they might be perceived (that imposter syndrome again) but it is so important to have a network of colleagues who can support you and help you learn the things they don’t teach you in school. This is one of the most important things you can do when you are junior in your career – learn as much as possible, soak everything in, and set aside your insecurities about asking questions since they are one of the best ways to learn.”
When I first came to the US seven years ago, I had the plan to visit all fifty-nine (in 2015) national parks within five years. I have not been able to complete the challenge that I set for myself as of November 2022. I only visited nineteen so far, and as the number of parks keeps growing (sixty-three as of 2022), I have more names on the list. But I haven’t given up on my dream yet. It is taking a bit of time, but I am positive that I am going to finish it sooner rather than later!
I feel so boring when asked for fun facts! But some little-known facts about me are that despite being a shy person, I was a tap dancer from age 6 through college and even did a dance tour in Spain. I got to stay on the Spanish coast in Malaga with stops in Ronda to see bullfighting, Torremolinos, Marbella, and Mijas to ride on a donkey through the mountains. My 16th birthday was while overseas, so I was able to spend my 16th birthday touring Portugal and Morocco! I still like to dance but you will only find me dancing by myself in my garage to a YouTube Zumba playlist. I was also a cheerleader from 3rd grade through my senior year of high school and looking back at it now, I can’t believe I had the guts to go through tryouts. I had to cheer in front of the entire student body (by myself!), after passing the judges, who then voted. Who would have guessed?
BWN Mentoring Program
The BWN Mentoring Program is gearing up for final year-end events, including “Ask Me Anything” sessions with senior leaders across several offices and in-person networking sessions for participants to further connect with each other in December. We will host a 2022 program close in January and gear up for the 2023 program commencement in early February. Female analysts and associates will be eligible to join (or re-join) the program, with VPs and above eligible to serve as mentors. We encourage all interested program participants to complete the program surveys which will be issues in late January with as much detail as possible to help achieve the best mentee-mentor matching experience.
We are proud of the impact the BWN Mentoring Program has had on employees at Bridge and are excited for another year! If you are interested in taking on a leadership role in this program as a Co-Captain, please reach out to Isela Rosales and Zach Smith by December 21st.