Early in my career, I worked as an interior designer for a large corporate company in the Northeast. I was one of eight employees in the group and the youngest. Within a couple of months, seven of my coworkers’ jobs were eliminated, leaving my boss and me in the CRE/Project Team. I received many responsibilities including overseeing the construction of a 1 million-square-foot project for their new headquarters.
The first day I arrived on the construction site with my boss I immediately noticed I was the only woman in the room, and the only African American. Within minutes of the meeting starting, one of the project team members asked my boss, “Is she taking meeting notes?” I had no idea how my boss would respond, however, he stood up boastfully and said, “Sabine is not … she’s your new boss.” This moment was a defining moment in my young career and working in our society. The experience I gained on this project ultimately geared me toward project management. My career path would have been completely different had my boss not given me the opportunity and leadership experience.
Since then, I have always felt the need to give back and seek opportunities to promote women and minorities. I rise to the occasion of diversity, including being a mentor and/or playing an advisory role for others. In my career, I have hired many women and races, not because of their gender or ethnicity, but rather because they were qualified with the right skills and demeanor. All they needed was someone to give them a chance. All throughout my career, I have been very fortunate to have individuals believe in my capabilities, and provide me opportunities. I want to do the same.
This is why leading BUILD Atlanta (Blacks United in Leadership & Development) is so important to me, and I am very passionate about the mission. I have twin girls and a son. I want them to have similar opportunities and make it a better society for them when they go into the workforce. I would like someone to extend a hand and give them a chance, even if they may not look like them. There are not a lot of women in corporate real estate nor construction, and African American women and minorities are even more scarce. I am driven to see a more equal playing field in the very near future. Being a member of WIN (Women’s Integrated Network) and BUILD help pave a path for the future of diversity in our industry.
Businesses like Cushman & Wakefield that actively promote equality create success by bringing people from different backgrounds and experiences into the workplace. This brings a diversity of thought and inclusion. We are a diverse society and having diverse conversations fosters the opportunity to value each other’s unique qualities, resulting in a society we can live, work and grow together.
Diversity is like a box of crayons. Individually, the red color is good. However, when you take all of the crayons and lay them out for all to see and interact, collectively the box of crayons creates a canvas that is much more beautiful.