By: Kathleen Cayetano
On September 13, ULI New York’s Women’s Leadership Initiative held their annual Summer School Series: Learning from Leaders at Robert A. M. Stern Architects. One of the three roundtable sessions featured Rachel Loeb, currently Chief Operating Officer at the New York City Economic Development Corporation, with the discussion moderated by Sara Queen, Senior Vice President of Brookfield Asset Management. The intimate evening touched on an array of topics affecting women professionals, and the advice received proved applicable to women in any industry at any stage in their careers.
Queen kicked off with a light-hearted lightning round of questions to uncover Loeb’s background and achievements. The success in her career thus far can be summarized within these three key lessons Loeb honed in on: to be kind to others, to be patient, and to go through the path untaken. Reflecting on her experience living in Vietnam, a young Loeb was hired to be the English-speaking marketer of a mixed-use development in Ho Chi Minh City. This experience eventually led Loeb to pursue a Masters degree at MIT in City Planning. Since then, each of her career milestones were the product of taking a risk with each new opportunity. The room was captivated by her enthusiastic fearlessness as Loeb described how she saw the prospect of each new role as a welcome challenge and a learning experience. She emphasized the importance of not being intimidated to continuously ask questions and to always articulate your goals.
Loeb also shared her candid and warm take on being an ambitious woman in a male dominated industry. A question arose on being surrounded by male peers who consistently gain more recognition for their work. “How do you keep the confidence up?”, one attendee asked. Loeb lightly touched upon imposter syndrome, a phenomenon that is more common in high achieving women than men, and stressed the necessity to amplify your own work so that everyone is aware of your accomplishments. She also attributes her drive to the support she receives from her network of equally dedicated, career-oriented women. Receiving constant validation from women who understand the same passion and drive, Loeb maintains a healthy relationship with peers she lovingly refers to as mama bears. Loeb and Queen further addressed the necessity to celebrate the victories of peers and colleagues. Giving credit to others when due is valuable in team settings. The duo agreed that being a mentor can happen at any stage in your career.
The conversation concluded with a poignant question on maintaining a work-life balance and fighting for a sustainable lifestyle. When asked about feelings of neglect and mitigating the guilt from working long hours away from your children, Loeb simply responded that if your family sees you happy pursuing what you love, they in turn will be happy. “It is ok to focus on yourself and make the commitment to yourself,” expressed Loeb. She pointed out the value of showing her children the scope of her work to make them aware of her passion and dedication to her job, and even encouraged bringing children to the workplace.
Rachel Loeb is a positive influence for all young professional women aspiring to be successful in the real estate industry. Her genuine responses throughout the evening, coupled with the animated discussions between her and Queen, were well received by everyone in attendance.