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 their communities.
For those that don’t already know her, we would like to shine a spotlight on:
Wendy Katz, Executive Vice President in Stream’s Chicago office
Wendy joined Stream in January 2021, bringing more than 25 years of commercial real estate (CRE) experience. Wendy started her CRE career in Chicago, right out of college. Clients have included Vornado, KBS, Starwood Capital, and The Irvine Company, and she continues to partner with owners and developers on leasing assignments.
How would you describe your role at Stream?
I mainly represent owners of downtown office buildings, marketing their buildings for lease to brokers and prospects, as well as developing new business opportunities. One of my goals is to also get more involved in mentoring women within Stream. What I enjoy most about my job is interacting with a diverse mix of people across different roles within the industry.
What are the three most important characteristics that make you successful in your role?
Being optimistic, strategic, and persistent.
How would your colleagues describe you?
As a reliable teammate. They can count on me to support collective team efforts, as well as individual endeavors. Trustworthy and caring. We genuinely enjoy working together and have developed great relationships.
What initially drew you to the CRE industry?
My family worked in real estate and construction. My grandfather constructed and managed apartment buildings in Detroit, and my dad took over the business. I spent time working for my dad when I was younger and really enjoyed it—he was an inspiration to me. When I went to college, I took a lot of real estate courses and business classes, even though my degree was in political science. But I already knew I wanted to get into CRE in a big city.
At Stream, I was drawn to the entrepreneurial environment combined with a team approach. Stream offers great resources with a national reach. It’s a flat organization, providing the ability to reach out to various people for support without any bureaucracy.
What does success look like to you?
Having my clients benefit economically is a priority, but also receiving positive feedback within their organizations as a result of my efforts is fantastic. It’s also incredibly gratifying to earn the respect of your teammates and peers when collaborating on a project and to experience success as a unit.
How does the organizational culture at Stream support you and your goals?
I can utilize my own approach to focus on my goals but also rely on Stream’s resources to reach those goals. I’ve had a positive experience with everyone being so accommodating and willing to lend support.
CRE has traditionally been a male-dominated industry, have you seen a shift in recent years?
I’m seeing more women on the agency leasing side now. People are recognizing that more women are needed in our industry, especially with the number of female executives running companies now. Women leaders on the client side want to know they’re partnering with a diverse firm that has a variety of outlooks and opinions, with women on the team they can relate to and gain support. We still have a long way to go but providing women with access to the right mentors and support will help to attract and retain them in the industry.
As a female leader, what is the most significant barrier you have faced in your career? How did you overcome it?
I’ve had male superiors talk down to me and raise their voices to display dominance. At first, it was intimidating, but I learned to stand up for myself. No one should be treated that way on a professional or personal level; it made me feel stronger than ever to speak up. It’s a matter of gaining self-confidence. Once you’re able to do that, you’ll convey it to other people.
How important is it to have female role models and mentors in the workplace? And have you ever had, or do you currently have, a mentor in the workplace?
It’s invaluable and important for achieving success, especially in this industry. I didn’t have a formal mentor or role model when starting out, but I’ve always considered Andrea Saewitz (also at Stream) as a mentor throughout my career. We’ve known each other for a long time, she represents the morals and values that I respect and feel inspired by. We try to always be there for each other, as well as for other women.
Have you ever thought about becoming a mentor, and if so, what would be your approach?
I would love to mentor other women. I’d encourage them to call me and set up time regularly to talk about what they’re doing, the obstacles they’re facing and questions they might have. I would encourage them that no matter what role they’re in, to be proactive and get involved in the process. Sometimes the best way to learn is by asking for the opportunity to do something you’ve never done before, and to learn by jumping right in. It’s key to learn as much about the market as possible, no matter where you are in your career. The more knowledge you have, the more confidence you’ll gain. As a mentor, I think it’s important to continually grow and learn, and ensure that you’re not just there for someone in the short term, but on a long-term basis.
What advice have you received that you wish you had learned earlier?
Never doubt yourself. If you’re afraid to try something new, don’t hesitate, just go for it. Don’t be afraid, have confidence in yourself. Surround yourself with a support system of family, friends, and coworkers.
What advice would you give to the next generation of female CRE leaders?
Women need to identify as CRE professionals, not “female” CRE professionals. They need to know they’re professionals and don’t need to be characterized. I always suggest finding a mentor to actively guide you, and to surround yourself with people who treat you with respect and you enjoy being around. It directly impacts your success.
Who inspires you and why?
My children. I love how they have the whole world in front of them to explore, and it makes me excited for them. My husband and I encourage them to take chances. If it doesn’t work out —just pick yourself up and keep going. I live those values and it makes me feel good when they look to me as a role model.
If you could pick up a new skill in an instant, what would it be?
Singing. I absolutely love music. I played piano when I was younger and was always surrounded by music growing up, but I would love to be able to sing.