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Stream Spotlight | Michelle Schierberl

As Stream continues to grow its business and people, we are taking this opportunity to spotlight our talented employees from all service lines, cities, and departments. These individuals are selected because they have made a significant impact on Stream, the commercial real estate industry and the local community. We are focusing most recently on taking a closer look at Women of Stream who are making an impact at the company, in the industry and in their communities.

For those that don’t already know her, we would like to shine a spotlight on: 

Michelle Schierberl is the Senior Vice President of Retail Investment Services in Stream’s Greater LA office. Since joining Stream along with her partner Don Ellis, Michelle leads the firm’s retail investment services division in GLA, specializing in the sale of retail shopping centers predominantly within the Southern California market. With over 25 years of retail and land development projects and approximately three billion in transactions, her clientele ranges from private clients to institutional owners, many of whom are repeat clients.

Describe yourself in three words.

Loyal, competitive and a “people person.”

My colleagues would say that I’m a straightforward person—what you see is what you get, that I say what’s on my mind and strive for transparency.

How would you describe your role at Stream? 

There are two sides to me. My first exposure to real estate was working for developers on different land developments, and then when I first got into the brokerage business, I started out in office leasing and land, and was involved in selling various product types. As the market evolved into “specializations,” I chose retail investments, since I felt most drawn to the shopping segment. I still do land deals, which can take upwards of two years, while with retail investments, it’s typically a quicker turnaround. So, I would say I have my hands in both. 

I was drawn to Stream because we were looking for something more entrepreneurial, and the Stream platform offered us what we were looking for. We’ve found it’s easier to navigate what’s moving deals in a more nimble operation like Stream. 

What first intrigued you about the CRE industry? 

When I was working behind the scenes managing escrows on the development side, I found it fun learning the nuances of the business that I may not have necessarily been exposed to otherwise. Then when I moved, I began managing a residential real estate operation­ and I got to experience the residential side of the business. When the owners were working a development in Temecula, they convinced me to get my license and I moved over into transactions. I love the flexibility that brokerage offers. But dabbling around the perimeters of the industry definitely helped me discover what direction I wanted to go in my career. 

As with my experience in this business, everyone’s path is different, and CRE professionals are free to follow their passion. 

Which aspect of your job do you enjoy the most? 

I enjoy the variety in my day-to-day, working on multiple deals with a diverse number of clients and colleagues. No two days are exactly the same. 

I also really enjoy the relationship-building aspect of my job. Ultimately, it’s not about your goals and what you’re trying to sell: it’s about taking the time to understand our clients and what they really need—then going the extra mile in the details. That perspective is what helps build long-term relationships in this business. 

What’s the most exciting project that you are working on right now? Why is it impactful?

We’re currently working on a deal that will take a 20-year development to a much higher intensity of use redevelopment project. There are always challenges during development and bringing that vision to life is very exciting. Our clients want to see that we have vision—and understand their vision–if we draw those two things together, that’s what’s impactful. A broker’s chief skill is really that of matchmaker: understanding the client, the people and the real estate process enough to find the right matches.

What professional accomplishment are you most proud of? 

Getting that really difficult deal to close—there’s always a sense of accomplishment, when you feel your very best. And those moments I think are the proudest in my career. 

What would you like to accomplish this year? 

Both professionally and personally, 2020 was one of the most challenging years I’ve ever faced. I kept reminding myself to stay grounded, that I was in a good place and could move forward. Between living through the evacuations of the California wildfires, the pandemic and a myriad of other difficult situations, work is at least a distraction, a different place to focus your attention when you’re facing challenging times in your life. We can’t control COVID—which impacts our ability to transact on retail—but this gives me the opportunity to pivot and shift gears into potential land and redevelopment opportunities.

How do you define leadership in business? 

Leaders who help their employees understand the real situation, who focus on collaboration and setting clear goals is essential. When people feel part of a decision-making process, they’ll be part of the solution too. Being honest, transparent and straightforward from the get-go is critical as well.

What is the best way to get more women involved in the industry?

I think there are more women coming into our overall industry, but we need to see a larger share within the brokerage side. Intentional recruiting and intern programs are crucial. And I think teams need to take a look at themselves, see where they might be lacking in terms of a variety of perspectives. Successful teams are diverse in age, experience, race and gender. It’s important to make suggestions to round out a team so you’re bringing in new blood that’s reflective of the world around us.  

Have you had any female mentors/role models in business?

Yes, a female client who I met while working together on a project was a great example of someone who had made it to the top of her industry. I’ve met a lot of women who are rock stars in the industry, who I’ve gotten to know on a personal level through CREW. It’s good to have industry friends who understand the business and can relate to different challenges. 

Why is giving back to the community and/or commercial real estate industry important to you?

I think perhaps there’s a common misconception that all our industry thinks about is making money, and that that’s our only priority. The Stream Support Foundation demonstrates how much we care about our people and our communities, and that putting people first is most important. 

If you could pick up a new skill in an instant what would it be?

Surfing. 

What are you currently reading? 

I have about 10 books I recently purchased all lined up, waiting to be read, including ones by David Baldacci and Ken Follett. 

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