Carmel Pratt is director of new construction at Bright Power, a New York City-based energy services management company. Pratt manages teams working on ground-up new construction, rehabilitation, and commissioning projects.What has been your biggest challenge or obstacles as a woman in your particular role? How have you overcome those obstacles? Not being able to always walk into a room or onto a job site with new people and have them immediately understand and recognize my expertise and value. Sometimes, I have to prove myself as an expert before others realize that I have the experience, knowledge, and training. To overcome that, I tap into my 7+ years' experience and do what I most enjoy: providing technical advisory and consulting design teams/real estate owners in how to best develop (or renovate) a sustainable, high-performing building.
Where would you say commercial real estate needs to improve for women? Cultivating female leaders. I'm proud that at Bright Power, I have Andrea Mancino, our Executive Vice President of New York as a mentor, and I have strong female leaders on my team that mentor other women newer to the industry. For the industry as a whole, we need to keep encouraging and mentoring young female professionals so that more organizations have women in leadership positions. We need better representation across projects and teams at all levels/roles, to show young women, especially recent graduates, that they have a place and power within this industry.
How can women better position themselves for success both in general and in your specific area of focus? Continue to learn and network. I'm constantly learning -- and teaching others -- to ensure I keep up with the most innovative and cutting-edge technologies and approaches to high-performance design and sustainability best practices. It's also important to grow your network and seek mentorship.
"There are fewer degrees of separation in this industry than we might think, so setting a good impression and cultivating positive relationships is critical! I highly recommend getting out into the field as much as possible to get hands-on experience and bridge theories to realities."
What is the best piece of advice you have received that has helped you succeed in your industry? What specific advice would you give to the next generation? Same as my last answer -- continue to learn (LISTEN) and network! The professional connections you make can help you secure your next role, they can inform you of new technologies, and they can be invaluable in discussing best practices and troubleshooting. To the next generation: we're all in this together; working towards common goals, so keep the team mentality strong and don't lose sight of your purpose.
What, in particular, can women bring to the table as the industry continues to grapple with and recover from the COVID19 crisis? Problem-solving, empathy, and resilience. In my opinion, women try to approach things from a "let's do this better" instead of saying "we've always done it this way before." Our most successful problem-solvers are people who approach the problem from different viewpoints and perspectives and try to do it better than before. Key to all of this is effective and thoughtful communication, which I find women do a stellar job at!
How would you advise someone just starting out? Follow their passions regardless of the industry. Getting to do what you love and what you are passionate about can make you that much more successful! To get a foothold, I'd say find a mentor and stay curious. That was the advice I received, and it was incredibly helpful in my career development.
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