Q&A: Where Minorities Fit in to Miami CRE

March 26, 2014

MIAMI—What can Miami’s commercial real estate industry do to increase minority participation? And how is CREW-Miami helping through its programs in 2014? We caught up with CREW-Miami’s 2014 president and Bilzin Sumberg attorney Karyl Argamasilla, to discuss these issues in part two of this exclusive interview. You can still read part one, Passing the Torch to the Next CRE Generation.

GlobeSt.com: What steps can be taken to increase minority participation in the CRE industry?

Argamasilla: The fact that women and minorities continue to hold fewer leadership level positions in the commercial real estate industry is a reality, however, we are seeing signs of that change already. The latest CREW Network White Paper shows that the number of women entering the commercial real estate field has increased in the past five years from 36% in 2005 to 43% in 2012.

At a local level, we are seeing more women serving in top executive roles and closing high-profile transactions. By having more women reach these leadership levels, we are paving the way for younger women to consider real estate as a prospective career.

As an industry, we have to take steps to change these statistics and that responsibility falls on all of us. As part of our educational programs, CREW-Miami targets minority students starting at an early age. For example, this month we participated with several members in a Women’s Symposium at Young Women’s Preparatory Academy, the only all-girls public school in Florida located in Little Havana.

We participate in this event annually because we want to expose young women from an early age to learn what real estate is and the career opportunities it offers. Before they meet us, most have never heard words like commercial property brokerage and commissions. Creating that awareness and opening the line of communication from early on plants the seed for our future leaders within the field.

GlobeSt.com: The CREW Network National Convention is coming to Miami this year. Tell us about the preparations for the event.

Argamasilla: Miami is the host city for the national 2014 CREW Network Convention and Marketplace taking place at the Loews Hotel in Miami Beach from Sept. 30 to Oct. 3, 2014. Nationally, CREW has more than 9,000 members in 70 markets across the US. The last time the convention was held in Miami was more than 20 years ago. The convention will feature dynamic speakers, educational sessions and leadership trainings and will draw more than 1,000 national CREW members here.

We are hoping to break the attendance record this year. Confirmed speakers include: key note speaker Steve Forbes, Chairman of Forbes Media; and Katty Kay, BBC World News America lead anchor and co-author of “Womenomics.” With the spotlight on Miami’s real estate market, we are also planning insider tours and satellite events to showcase our development boom and emerging neighborhoods.

GlobeSt.com: What are some of the real estate issues and trends the organization will explore in its monthly panel programs this year?

Argamasilla: We began this year with a panel discussion focused on efforts to position Miami as the technology hub for Latin America and the impact this would have on the real estate industry. This panel had a larger attendance than we anticipated. We also just had a sold-out program on the Brickell development boom and plan to have a panel on the topic of single family aggregation.

Another panel coming up will discuss the transformation we are seeing of malls becoming lifestyle centers. Throughout Miami-Dade, for instance, retail is really playing a big role in both suburban and urban areas, making this another timely topic in the industry that we will explore in the months ahead.

Karyl Argamasilla
Co-Head, CMBS and Real Estate Capital Markets, CMBS Transactional and Workouts Team
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