“Put yourself in an environment where you will be extraordinarily successful,” said Leslie Hale, CEO of RLJ Lodging Trust at our 3rd Annual Women’s Real Estate at the Langham Hotel in Chicago in June.  

Words of wisdom from women like Leslie Hale are like the North Star for our audience of leading women in real estate.  The women in Kayo’s real estate community come from across the United States, and from all corners of commercial real estate from development to private equity investing to REITS and to advisory roles.  They are without exception hungry, capable, and smart. But often, it’s hard to find extraordinary success in their environment. In an industry where women represent fewer that 10% of senior leadership positions, women often feel like outsiders and lack female role models to light the path.   

At Kayo events, we help women realize extraordinary success by connecting them with leaders, like Leslie Hale, advancing their knowledge through rich content, and by creating atmosphere of community, where women support one another – the rising tide lifts all boats. 

Community forms through relationship-building, and relationship building is best done through shared experiences (and hopefully some fun!).  That’s why we started the summit by getting out of our chairs and going on a walking tour of the Hines River Point property, a state-of-the-art 52-story office tower located in Chicago’s West Loop submarket. Attendees witnessed the dramatic world-class architecture and design from Pickard Chilton Architects, outstanding views, and first-class amenities.

Day two started with an interview with Leslie Hale followed by a fireside chat with Peggy DaSilva, Allianz Real Estate of America and Maria Stamolis, Canyon Partners who engaged with the audience about reinventing their career.  Peggy and Maria turned the tables on our audience, asking them questions and responding in kind. 

Opening Keynote, Leslie Hale, RLJ Trust Lodging

Best of the Midwest, Jeremy Gott, Baker Botts moderator; Kristen Hull, EQ Office; Anna Simpson, Sterling Bay; Sara Spicklemire, CBRE; Meredith O’Connor, JLL; Molly McShane, Conor Commercial Real Estate

Fireside Chat, Peggy DaSilva, Allianz Real Estate of America, and Maria Stamolis, Canyon Partners Real Estate

Every Kayo summit dedicates a panel to what’s trending in the industry. This year, we welcomed Carrie DeWees, Allstate; Sarah Byrnes, Equity Commonwealth; Nikita Rao, Nuveen; Maggie Coleman, JLL; and Sarah Gal from Callan Associates to share their insights on cap rates and the rising prices of commercial real estate. Most of the panel gave a “green” light for the future of commercial real estate development, except Sarah Byrnes who came in with “flashing red” represented by her red shirt.

Real Estate Outlook – Red, Yellow or Green Light; Moderator Claire Fernandez, Baker Botts,  Carrie DeWees, Allstate; Sarah Byrnes, Equity Commonwealth; Nikita Rao, Nuveen; Maggie Coleman, JLL; and Sarah Gal from Callan Associates

Networking Through Post Its

At Kayo events, we intentionally integrate as many networking opportunities as we can while also providing rich, carefully-curated content and panels. To encourage original discussion, true connections, and organic interactions, we ask our audience four, let’s say, “untraditional” questions, this year, we chose:

  1. What are your life hacks?
  2. If you could have chosen a different career what would it be?
  3. What drives you? 
  4. If you could go back and take a college class what would it be?

While each of these deserves their own story here are some of the highlights:

  • Your top life hacks were grocery delivery, followed by outsourcing help (nannies, house cleaning, etc), and, last but not least, a positive attitude at work
  • If you could go back to school you’d take economics or finance or coding
  • Setting an example for your children and impacting others is what drives you, surprisingly the pursuit of success and accomplishment came in third
  • And if you could do it again, you’d be a chef or a dog walker– a true career transformation

The Real Estate Summit boasted 14 total sessions and over 60 speakers from capital flows to opportunity zones to solutions for affordable housing. We wrapped up the summit with Wendy Berger, a former TED Talk speaker and current CEO and President of WBS Equities. She spoke about her journey in life and career after facing some of the most unthinkable challenges. She inspired us with her personal toolkit, quotes and ways she keeps moving forward. 

Closing Keynote, Wendy Berger, WBS Equities

We wrap every summit with a feedback form which we carefully read to help shape our future programming.  They also give our attendees a moment of creativity with a canvas for “doodling” and we love the “art” that came through at this summit. Also, of note, 100% of our attendees said they’d recommend the Real Estate Summit to a friend. If you haven’t experienced a Kayo event, we genuinely hope that you are “that friend” and choose to join us next year at the Four Seasons Philadelphia.  

Check out our photo gallery and get on the list for 2020 to be first to know about programming, our call for speakers, and registration.


What else would you like to know or share about the 2019 Kayo Women’s Real Estate Summit? Leave your comments below.