Project managers Annette Valdez and Caitlin Bernal were profiled in New England Real Estate Journal’s 2022 Women in Commercial Real Estate Spotlight. The spotlight is dedicated to women from New England's commercial real estate industry that are excelling in their current role and making a valuable impact on the industry. Read Annette and Caitlin’s Q&As here and here, and below.

Annette Valdez, project manager

What advice would you offer to women getting into the CRE industry? For women just getting into the CRE industry, have the courage to take on any responsibilities or opportunities that come your way—even if they are new or unfamiliar to you. You will grow and develop the most in your role when you try something new and allow yourself to be uncomfortable. Also have the confidence to be yourself and lean into your strengths.

In the past year, what project, transaction or accomplishment are you most proud of? In the past year, the accomplishment that I am most proud of is my promotion to project manager. While my career path to this point may not be as linear as others—starting as an architect at a design-build firm to working in estimating to project management—every experience, transition, and role has helped me become the project manager that I am today. This promotion was a culmination of all my hard work and dedication throughout my career and am grateful for the path that I took to get here.

Caitlin Bernal, project manager

What has been your biggest challenge and how have you faced it? My biggest challenge has been learning and refining my own personal management style. Throughout my career, I’ve been told by male counterparts that I am calm in the face of challenges but not assertive enough—and for years I took this feedback negatively. My perspective changed, once I realized that my demeanor is actually a unique valuable asset that I bring to my projects, teams, and mentees. Once I accepted this, my confidence grew, which ultimately helped me become a better project manager.

In the past year, what project, transaction or accomplishment are you most proud of? In the past year, I’m proud of the work and positive relationship that I established and maintained with my repeat client and longstanding Shawmut partner—a prestigious local university. Last summer, we completed a dining hall for them and since then we’ve been awarded two new projects. This new work was a result of the great experience the client had with our team—and they specifically requested to work with the same team again. I am proud to know that I had such a positive impact on the client that we are continuing to be awarded work as a result.