Mary Fran is a 2015 graduate of The Goldie Initiative and Roosevelt University. She is a Marketing Manager at Near North Title Group and 2019 Vice-Chair of The Goldie Initiative Scholar Leadership Development Committee.
2. What leadership achievement are you particularly proud of?
What I’m most proud of is probably being on the winning team for the Eisenberg Foundation Midwest Real Estate Challenge. I was a little apprehensive at first, thinking “I don’t know if I want to do that, if I’m smart enough.” So it was important to me to try something out of my comfort zone. Being part of The Goldie Initiative helped give me the confidence to try something new.
3. What speed bumps have you encountered along the way? How did you overcome them?
Earlier in my career I started a new position and realized pretty quickly that it wasn’t exactly what I wanted. I wondered, “Did I make a huge mistake? I just left a comfortable job, what have I done?” I had that moment where I said to myself, “It’s not the end of the world, everything’s fixable, there’s other jobs, there’s other things I can do.” It taught me a lot about when you take a new job. It was a good learning experience of what you should do when looking for a new job and how to look out for yourself. Not every job works out, but at the end of the day it gets you where you need to be.
4. How has The Goldie Initiative helped you?
It’s funny, while I was at this job I wasn’t liking, I reached out to my Goldie Mentor Heather Gustafson. I had already graduated at this point, and I had this moment when I reached out to her about maybe wanting to go into brokerage.
She was very honest with me about what being a new broker entails. She said, “I know you can get there if you want to.” But as she was describing it the more we discussed it, I realized this probably wasn’t the best fit for me. She was willing to help, even offered to have me work for her, but she helped me understand the challenges. She said, “If you become a full time broker, this is what the next year is going to look like” and I was like “Oh yeah I’m not going to want to do that.”
So she asked me, “What else can we explore, who can I connect you with?”
There’s such a good pool of people at The Goldie Initiative, I was reaching out and if nothing else they would grab coffee and get me on an avenue where I wanted to go. There’s been so many times where you just want more information, more general advice and connections. It really is a lot about relationships and if you know someone who can help you further, that helps a lot more than reaching out blindly.
5. Who is your biggest inspiration?
I would say my mom. She was a single mom since I can remember, always worked and she taught me that you can do whatever you want to do. She worked in a male dominated industry too, at a brokerage firm. She would be on the trading floor and be the only woman. I’m sure she took a lot of crap but it made her stronger. She taught me to be strong too and that I can do anything I want to.
With the work life balance, she always worked but she was around. She made it doable, something women today worry a lot about.
6.What are your passions outside of work?
Family, and then my hobbies are golf and cooking. Then the more I’m getting involved with The Goldie Initiative and finding time to give back. I’m finding that I may not have a lot of dollars to donate like someone in a senior position, but your time can go just as far.
7. What advice would you give to someone thinking about applying to The Goldie Initiative?
No contest as whether you should do it or not, even besides the financial aspect, more so it’s the network you create. I would tell them you get out of it as much as you put into it. When I went through it, yes I knew girls who went through it and put in that effort, but they’re not at things anymore, which is fine, but I think you can get so much out of it with a little effort.
All you have to do is ask, and they are so willing to help you throughout your career. When I first did it, the $10,000 scholarship was really appealing, but I would do it again if there was no money involved. The money was the low hanging fruit, I got so much more out of the other things.
It’s so great to see how the Initiative has evolved, it’s just getting better and better, the people involved are better.
8. What is your prediction for women leaders in the commercial real estate industry for the coming year?
I think what I like about women in CRE is they are such a strong group. There’s no sense of complaining, instead we’re just going to work harder and lead by example. I love the mentality of “it’ll get there and it’ll work.”
I think you’re going to continue to see these strong women on panels and entering the field. Companies are adapting to that and are missing out on half the workforce if they don’t change. It’s just going to keep getting better, and it’s a testament to some of the strong women in executive positions coming together to support other women.
If you would like to learn more about Mary Fran, please visit her LinkedIn page.