Celebrating Women of Influence: Jean Kane

by | 20 August 2019

Following Real Estate Forum’s 2019 Women of Influence issue, this series follows up with Colliers’ female honorees, who discuss mentorship, how CRE has changed for women over the years, what it means to be a woman of influence and more.

What does being recognized as a woman of influence (WOI) mean to you? ​

I am honored and humbled to be selected as a Woman of Influence in the WOI Standouts category. This category was created for a few women, that in the judge’s discretion, had gone above and beyond the category they were originally nominated for. So it’s meaningful to me as there were a number a very successful women nominated for the various award categories.

Did you have a mentor that greatly influenced your personal and professional development?

I have had and continue to have a few mentors and trusted advisors in my life. However, the biggest influencers for me have been at Colliers and our predecessor company, Welsh Companies. I’ve had the opportunity to work with some incredibly talented, motivated and collaborative people over the last 30 years. Each of these people, at various levels within our company, have made an impact and inspired me. I’ve learned that if you surround yourself with motivated people, your only possible result is success.

What unique attributes do you think women bring to the commercial real estate industry?

I believe each person has the ability to bring unique attributes to our industry. The key for us in leadership is to recruit and retain professionals with diverse backgrounds, skillsets, ethnicity and gender.

As a woman in CRE, how have you seen things change for women in the industry over the years? ​

The real estate profession (regardless of gender, race and ethnicity) has changed significantly since I started in the business. With respect to being a woman in the business, I remember attending my first NAIOP meeting. I walked into a room with a “sea” of white guys in navy blue suits. It was intimidating — but this was the profession I wanted and I had to find a way to fit in, be authentic and earn respect. Being the only woman in the room or in any business meeting was the norm back then. I am proud to say that I eventually did earn respect in our industry. Two examples include becoming CEO and majority owner of Colliers’ Minneapolis-St. Paul office and being selected to serve as the third female chair of NAIOP, which at the time had 17,000 members. Even though female leaders are still in the minority within the executive ranks and on the boards of real estate organizations, I believe CRE has made progress in recruiting more diverse young professionals. We still need to focus on building diversity.

What can women do to uplift other women in the industry? ​

Be a mentor, be open and available for conversations and be a great role model.

What’s next for you in your career?

I plan to continue to build upon Colliers | Minneapolis-St. Paul’s long track record of success. We have ambitious growth plans to have dominance in select major Minnesota markets and our state’s industry economic drivers. My current role is rewarding, as it allows me to have a positive impact on our people, our clients and our community.

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