ULI New York Blog

Recap: WLI Summer School Series II – A Discussion with Cia Buckley Marakovits

By: Vivien Wu and Caitlin Elliott

ULI New York’s Women’s Leadership Initiative convened attendees on September 13th to hear from Cia Buckley Marakovits, the Chief Investment Officer and partner of Dune Real Estate, in an intimate chat moderated by UBS Managing Director, Bethany Ropa. The gathering was one of three concurrent sessions that took place at the WLI’s popular Summer School: Learning from Leaders event was generously hosted by Robert A.M. Stern Architects.

Although Cia’s career has been predominantly in the financial transaction and fund side of real estate, she spoke to topics that are applicable to any young woman professional in real estate. She touched on the themes of keeping perspective, managing workload, and managing career transitions.

The fear of failure and very myopic self-perception can create a negative cycle for many young ambitious professionals. Cia encouraged people to recognize that small failures are inevitable. She offered the advice, “Grade yourself on a quarterly instead of daily basis.” This can give you the perspective to shrug off self-consciousness and move on from small mistakes. As a light-hearted example, she shared a recent anecdote of a rushed morning in which she forgot her son’s costume when she brought him to school. In her rush to go home, get the costume, bring it to him, and be on time to a work meeting, she showed up at the meeting in her running clothes. While she regaled listeners, Cia also pointed out that small “failures” are inevitable and therefore we must zoom out to look at the big picture.

As a young, ambitious professional, there is a fine line between working hard and becoming an overburdened pushover. Cia describes the latter as “doing the windows and the floors and everything in between” when one takes on the tasks of others in a team or company, in addition to being responsible for one’s own workflow. Cia recalled doing this early on in her career (although she still does this sometimes) and how this taught her to stand up for herself. Her advice to mitigate this is to determine what you’re excellent at and find out where you can add value. While this takes time, Cia explained that the road to success is long – “things don’t happen all at once, they happen incrementally.” Focusing your efforts on where you add the most value will enable you to develop your strengths professionally and reach your full potential.

Lastly, Cia shared some advice about managing career shifts such as transitioning to a leadership role. Along with the responsibilities of professional growth, one must also manage relationships and changes in perception – particularly with co-workers who may now see you as competition. Cia described her approach as a straight-forward boss – “this is how I am and this is how it will be” – while acknowledging that everyone has their own management style that works for them. Most importantly, Cia spoke about her own realization that, as a leader, she is responsible to be constantly self-aware and no longer has the luxury of being transparent about impatience or frustration. Realizing those shifts in responsibilities and perceptions is the first step to managing those transitions more smoothly.

Cia’s overall message was to put yourself out there, pursue your innate strengths and build a very strong support system. The WLI session offered excellent insights and attendees left feeling inspired to tackle the leadership challenges in their own lives.

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