As an undergraduate studying bioengineering and finance at the University of Pennsylvania in the early 1990s, Heidi Learner had a Wall Street job on her radar but no thoughts of commercial real estate. “It’s funny how what you think you’re going to do in life often ends up being something completely different,” the chief economist at New York-based commercial real estate brokerage firm Studley said. “My first job out of school was at Salomon Brothers. Certainly, the math has helped over the years, but I don’t think there’s been one time that I’ve used anything specific to my bioengineering studies.”
After leaving a vice president role at State Street Corporation, Ms. Learner joined Studley in May 2012, where she uses real-time evaluations of supply and demand for office space to help clients understand the economics of major commercial real estate markets. The information she analyzes on a daily basis runs the gamut from CMBS data to labor market statistics to annual financial reports issued by cities and states. Her research supports the brokerage firm’s 25 domestic offices, as well as the company’s more than 60 global offices. “I had spent almost 20 years on Wall Street in a variety of capacities, so this was a relatively new career switch for me,” she said.
Among her previous roles, Ms. Learner has worked as an analyst focused on foreign exchange rate and interest rate hedging and a vice president focused on emerging markets. During her early years in New York’s financial industry, she received her master’s degree in mathematical finance from Columbia University. Ms. Learner noted that the obstacles she has faced in her career have never been the result of gender differences. “Certainly, I’ve had my fair share of challenges, but as far as challenges specifically because the industry tends to be male-dominated, no,” she said. “Of course, it’s important to recognize that women have different communication styles and that you need to know how to play in the sandbox with people who have both styles.”
The Weston, Mass., native said her goal looking ahead is to make sure her coverage area grows as Studley continues to expand geographically and potentially into new lines of business.10 Top Women in CRE Share Career Advice, Paths to Success. Hint: Hard Work Obligatory
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