Women in Real Estate

Careers & Diversity


Women in real estate

Despite the fact that female representation in the industry has increased tremendously in the past three decades, real estate continues to have one of the highest wage gaps of any sector between men and women in management roles (21%). With a reputation for homogeneity and exclusivity, it’s no wonder the real estate industry has been slow to change, but what can be done? Hear from six women who have broken the mold and achieved incredible success, while making strides towards increasing equity in a field where progress is sorely needed.


Panel Director:

Aayesha Ghanekar (MBA '18)





Jennifer Novack (College '99-00) is the Head of the Global Real Estate Practice at Sheffield Haworth, a global executive search and advisory firm with offices in the US, Europe, Middle East, India and Asia.  She has worked in Real Estate executive search for twelve years, serving the world's top global private equity firms, hedge funds, investment banks, developers, REITs, and sovereign wealth funds.  Jennifer began her career at Goldman, Sachs & Co. in Currencies in London and New York. She speaks Spanish, German and Mandarin.  Her social impact startup Partners in Kind (www.partnersinkind.com) was chosen by two HBS students as a field study project.


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Ms. Gale is currently a Managing Director at the Craddock Group, LLC, a real estate professional services firm.  She is based in Boston, MA and leads project teams providing strategic real estate consulting services to federal, state, and local government agencies.   With over 14 years of commercial real estate and affordable housing experience, she advises clients nationwide on land use feasibility, asset renovation and redevelopment, asset disposition and management, and affordable housing development and operations. 

Ms. Gale is currently supporting the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs with the implementation of its Draft Master Plan in West Los Angeles, CA, including the solicitation of private developers and the structuring and execution of multiple long-term ground leases.  Ms. Gale also recently advised the U.S. Department of Transportation and the U.S. General Services Administration on their successful federal real property exchange with MIT in Cambridge, MA, resulting in $750M in total consideration for the government (including a new state-of-the-art federal facility) and an approximately 10-acre mixed-used redevelopment opportunity in Kendall Square for MIT.   

Prior to joining the Craddock Group, Ms. Gale was a Senior Vice President in Jones Lang LaSalle’s (JLL) Public Institutions group, where her clients included the U.S. Departments of Veterans Affairs, Transportation, Energy, Navy and the U.S. General Services Administration, among others. Prior to JLL, Ms. Gale served as a Project Manager at New York City’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), where she was responsible for the management of a loan portfolio for affordable housing developers and the development of over 150 units of affordable housing throughout the City.

Ms. Gale received her BA in urban studies from Columbia University and her MBA from Harvard Business School.  She serves on the Advisory Council for the Massachusetts Housing and Shelter Alliance and is also a licensed real estate salesperson in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. 

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Sara Queen is a professional and civic leader in New York’s real estate community. As the leader of Brookfield’s Asset Management team, she managed $30 billion throughout the United States. Sara also plays a broader executive role, guiding strategic planning and representing Brookfield with co-investors in the U.S. Office Fund, the Downtown Los Angeles Fund, the DC Core Fund, and other joint-venture partnerships. She has established a reputation for consistently creating value through redevelopment, repositioning, strategic leasing, and improving operational efficiency. Before joining Brookfield, Sara was Senior Vice President at Clarion Partners, and began her career at Metropolitan Life Insurance in the investment and asset management groups. 

Sara holds an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School, and graduated cum laude with a B.A. in economics and history from Wellesley College. She was named WX’s (Women Executives in Real Estate) 2017 Woman of the Year and to the prestigious 40 Under 40 list by Crain’s NY Business (2008). In addition, she was selected as a Woman of Distinction by the Girl Scout Council of Greater NY and a Woman of Influence by Real Estate Forum (2009, 2014, and 2015). Sara is a member the Vestry of Trinity Church (Manhattan), Friends of Governors Island, the Harvard Alumni Real Estate Board, and she chairs the Board for Solar One, an urban green education and environmental organization. While serving as a Trustee of Grace Church School (Manhattan), she was instrumental in the building of a new high school in Cooper Square. As Professor Queen, Sara teaches classes in leasing and asset management as an adjunct professor in Columbia University’s Master of Real Estate Development Program. 

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Roberta Sydney is CEO and Board Chair of Sydney Associates, Inc. founded in 1999, to perform development, asset management, and property management for commercial and residential real estate. 

Prior to Sydney Associates, Inc., Roberta was Senior Vice President at State Street Global Advisors negotiating contract terms with major brokerage houses.  She also worked at Leisure Technology, a California-based real estate developer of active adult communities.  Roberta also was Senior Vice President at BayBank Mortgage Corporation, running retail originations and secondary marketing, achieving # 1 in purchase mortgages in Massachusetts for the first time ever.  She began her career at The Boston Company, where she wrote the business plan, evaluated and implemented mainframe software solutions to centralize customer account information, and launched mass marketing of financial services, generating over 50,000 new accounts in the first year. 

Currently, Roberta chairs the Compensation Committee and serves on the Board of Plaxall, Inc., and serves on the Advisory Boards of several private real estate technology companies, including Rental Beast, Embue, and Doorbell.

Roberta received a BA from Wellesley College, holds an MBA from Harvard University, and a Master of Science in Real Estate Development from MIT.



Susan Tjarksen is the Principal and Managing Broker at KIG CRE. Since founding KIG CRE in 2015, Susan has orchestrated countless deals, including the arrangement of a $111M joint venture opportunity in the Illinois Medical District and the brokerage of an $86M mixed-use Chicago portfolio. KIG CRE clients include JP Morgan, Guggenheim Real Estate, Property Markets Group, Centrum Partners, Steadfast Companies, R2 and Marc Realty. Susan is a licensed real estate managing broker in Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan and Wisconsin.

She also serves as Chairman of Enodo Inc, an automated underwriting platform for multifamily real estate. Utilizing predictive analytics and machine learning, Enodo’s core features allow users to achieve optimal rent, identify statistically relevant comps, and test value-add strategies. 

Susan is a member of the Forbes Real Estate Council, Roosevelt University’s MBIRE Advisory Board and the Lincoln Park Builders of Chicago.

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Ms. Williams is a Principal of Zero G Capital Management, which managed a low-net, high-conviction, short opportunistic equity fund that focused on generating alpha through single-name shorts in the consumer discretionary and consumer staples sectors.  Ms. Williams joined in May 2017 and served as the Chief Operating Officer.  Ms. Williams’ deep retail industry relationships and real estate private equity expertise enhanced a credit-led approach to equity investing that focused on identifying companies with deteriorating balance sheets, disrupted business models, and/or unrealistic growth expectations.     

Previously, Ms. Williams was a Principal of Acquisitions and Asset Management at Artemis Real Estate Partners (“Artemis”), responsible for developing and implementing acquisition and asset management activities, primarily for the separate account for New York State Common Retirement Fund.  At Artemis, she co-led the build-out of the real estate emerging manager separate account business into a ~ $1 billion program with three institutional pension fund clients; she developed the program infrastructure and was instrumental in leading the allocation process to 27 managers in major markets across the U.S.  She served on the Investment Committee, since joining Artemis in January 2012.

Prior to Artemis, Ms. Williams served as Principal, Investments for Capri Capital Partners, LLC (“Capri”), where she was responsible for origination, investment structuring, and asset management of equity and structured finance investments for over $1 billion in assets, across the firm’s various separate accounts and commingled funds.  Ms. Williams also led many of the firm’s urban investment projects and helped shape Capri’s urban investment strategy.

Ms. Williams also worked for Goldman Sachs within the Investment Banking Division’s Retail and Corporate Finance Practice Groups and at Bertelsmann Music Group.

Ms. Williams graduated with honors from Harvard University (AB Economics) and has an MBA from Harvard Business School. She is a member of the Urban Land Institute – Silver Retail Counsel. She serves as a Trustee and Chair of the Investments/Endowment Committee for People’s Congregational Church and is a Founding Member of Leadership Now Project.  She is an Advisory Board Member for real estate investment firm, Sundance Bay and teaches a class biannually at Georgetown University, Masters in Real Estate.