Four Women Who Drive Progress and Inspire Inclusion at CBRE

March 6, 2024 5 Minute Read

Profile pictures of Krissy Fry, Carrie Mok, Molly Westbrook and Liz Nucci

CBRE’s Krissy Fry knows all about being one of the only women in the room.

Working in financial services and commercial lending over the past two decades, she has often noticed a lack of diversity at industry meetings, events and conferences. In more recent years, however, she’s noticed a broader range of genders, ages and races among the faces in the room.

“There are more and more women in leadership positions across the commercial real estate industry,” says Fry, one of the leaders of CBRE Capital (Canada) Inc. “Representation is growing as young women have more female role models to look up to and see commercial real estate as a career option.”

To mark International Women’s Day, we spoke to Fry and three other women at CBRE about carving out careers in commercial real estate and inspiring inclusion in the workplace.

Fry faced her share of challenges as she built her career, even being encouraged to reconsider opportunities due to her gender earlier in her career.

“There’s this belief that gender bias doesn’t exist anymore, but it does,” she says. “Sometimes it’s done unconsciously, but it’s still important to be confident to speak up and address these situations.”

Fry has been encouraged by recent strides toward equality, notably the success of the Professional Women’s Hockey League (PWHL). Within two months of its inaugural game, the league registered record attendance and sold out its merchandise.

“The PWHL smashed the glass ceiling by forging ahead and not paying attention to the noise,” says Fry. “It shows what women are capable of.”

She advises the next generation of women in real estate to know their worth. “Remember that you’ve earned your place and that your time is valuable,” she says. “It’s not on women to organize all the lunches, send meeting invites and take notes. We’re leading meetings and driving business. In some ways, we always have, but now it’s noticed and respected.”

Fostering Supportive Workplaces

Carrie Mok didn’t always feel advocated for in her previous jobs. At CBRE, though, she’s finally found a workplace that makes her feel valued.

Before joining the company in 2019, Vancouver-based Mok worked in the restaurant business, then as a finance manager for a car dealership. Looking for a change, she sought out new opportunities and eventually arrived at CBRE.

“The people and the atmosphere were so welcoming,” Mok recalls. “I felt like I fit right in.”

She started in a temporary position as a concierge and receptionist, working her way up to full-time Senior Executive Assistant, where she now works alongside CBRE Vancouver’s management team.

“I’m grateful to be part of a team where I feel valued and seen,” says Mok. “It motivates me to work harder.”

Her efforts haven’t gone unnoticed. Mok recently earned one of CBRE’s inaugural Western Canada North Star awards, which recognized her positive, can-do attitude, her willingness to help others and her proactive approach.

Mok’s path hasn’t always been easy. Having grown up in a single-parent immigrant household, Mok admits she sometimes struggled with her confidence.

But the culture and resources available at CBRE have helped her to feel supported and empowered in her professional role. “CBRE offers a plethora of trainings and resources,” says Mok. “All employees can access the tools they need to grow their career and succeed.” 

Developing Resilience

Molly Westbrook has often had to be a chameleon, adapting to diverse environments and learning how to thrive.

Over the years, Westbrook has worn several hats as she worked in different cities across the U.S. and Canada. Starting her career in property management in San Diego, she moved several times before coming to Canada to be Managing Director of CBRE’s Toronto Downtown office in 2023.

“I’ve learned to quickly adjust to circumstances,” says Westbrook. “I saw every challenge as an opportunity to develop resilience, hone my skills and advocate for others. It’s made me a more empathetic and well-rounded leader.”

These days, Westbrook leverages her leadership to create a more inclusive and equitable work environment within the Toronto Downtown office. This includes ensuring diversity in hiring practices, providing training programs that address unconscious bias, and promoting open dialogue and understanding, regardless of gender.

Westbrook advises women starting their commercial real estate careers to embrace continuous learning and forge meaningful connections by networking proactively and seeking mentorship from industry leaders.

“I’ve been fortunate to work with amazing individuals who have given me wonderful opportunities,” she says. “But I’ve had to push myself and cultivate an unshakable confidence in my expertise. My mother used to tell me, 'If it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you.'

“That stuck with me throughout my career and it’s been a very rewarding journey so far.”

Profile pictures of Krissy Fry, Carrie Mok, Molly Westbrook and Liz Nucci with office buildings in the background

Putting in the Work

Liz Nucci has never let her gender determine her success.

An office leasing specialist in CBRE’s Toronto Downtown office, Nucci was recruited in 2017 after her business partner and mentor passed away. “He taught me that you have to work hard and smart to succeed in business.”

Having no prior connections in Toronto’s commercial real estate, Nucci spent countless hours at the start of her career making cold calls, conducting building tours and developing her network.

Her discipline paid off and she soon made a name for herself as a tough negotiator. A landlord once made her sign a confidentiality agreement to ensure she didn’t disclose the terms of a highly favourable deal she had negotiated for her client.

“I’ve learned to be persistent to drive the best deals for my clients,” Nucci says.

When it comes to creating more inclusive work environments, she believes it’s important to celebrate diversity and ensure everyone has equal access to opportunities, from mentorship with senior leaders to more women having seats at the leadership table.

“Everyone brings a unique skill set and background to their role,” says Nucci. “If we can leverage that, we are all better for it.”

She is inspired by her mother, who showed her how to lead with care and compassion. “She’s taught me the value of kindness because you never know what someone’s going through,” says Nucci.

But that doesn’t mean letting up on the gas. “You have to out-hustle everyone else. Working hard and being nice will pay off. And if anyone tries to bring you down, prove them wrong.”

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