Thanks to her animal-loving son, the Diehl family has put together quite a collection of wildlife: There are three dogs, two well-stocked fish tanks, four tarantulas, a scorpion and a python. There’s even a hedgehog.
Managing the needs of those very different animals – as well as the people in her house – may have been one small part of the training and experience Kelly needed to get where she is today.
Question: So, how did you first get into commercial real estate?
Kelly Diehl: I was always sort of “in real estate,” because my father was. He was an appraiser while I was growing up, so we would travel all over the country during the summers and do appraisals.
After I graduated from college, I started working on my MBA. Then I moved to St. Louis and realized my MBA credits wouldn’t transfer, so I started looking for work in the industry.
I went to work at Turley Martin Company, in what was essentially an Assistant Property Manager role. My interview and job offer happened within a couple hours of each other!
Q: How did you rise up the ranks from there?
KD: I started as an assistant on a suburban office portfolio. I knew that wasn’t what I wanted to do long term, so I kept working hard and putting in long hours. After about two years, I moved into a property manager role, managing my own office portfolio. From there, I moved to a high-rise in Clayton. Eventually I grew into an account manager, where I managed the relationship with a client rather than a property or properties. After that I moved up again to a city leader role at what was by then Colliers Turley Martin Tucker. Start to finish, that all happened over about 15 years.
Q: You’ve been in the industry for more than 20 years now. What keeps you so interested in commercial real estate?
KD: What I really like is that it’s a very entrepreneurial business. Every property and every day, there’s something different. It’s up to you to determine the best practices and transfer them from property to property. It’s almost like you’re the CEO of whatever property you have – that’s your business to run. I enjoy putting those puzzle pieces together.
You also get to work with a lot of really great people.
Q: What interested you in becoming Cushman & Wakefield’s Managing Principal?
KD: I wasn’t really looking for a change, but when Cushman & Wakefield approached me, one thing that really stood out to me was being able to help the next generation of leaders grow and develop at the company. That’s what excited me more than anything – I love to help others succeed in their careers.
When I came in, it was really like coming home. I know so many people here, and have been talking to so many of them for years.