Lynnette, you’ve forged a highly successful career in the real estate industry, but you started out in the tech space, founding your own company as an entrepreneur. Did you always have an interest in the real estate sector?
Real estate was a hobby that turned into a career. I always had a love for real estate, as a child I would marvel at the skyscrapers and infrastructure of downtown Chicago and wonder how these amazing structures were built. Still to this day as I drive throughout Dubai, I can’t help but to stare at the various projects, infrastructure, etc. and think how impressive the real estate landscape of this city is.
I was introduced to real estate at a very young age, we owned an apartment building in the Southside of Chicago, and I would help my mom collect rents, manage the maintenance of the building, find new tenants, etc. It was like my own, private Monopoly game! At 18, I bought my own apartment - It was my first real investment, and I was hooked.
My passion for technology also started at a very young age. I was mesmerized by computers and took my first programming class when I was about seven years old. My father bought me my first computer (a Commodore 64) and I would sit for hours coding in BASIC. Technology came as second nature to me.
Lynnette speaking at Cityscape Global 2021.
How did your career path lead you to where you are today?
My career in technology started in high school where I worked as a helpdesk agent for a large international bank. I was in university right before the .com boom and got involved in projects introducing LDAP and messaging technologies into the market, which led me to work with Microsoft and Sun Microsystems. I worked for these firms as a client facing consultant for about 10 years and, during this time, would still dabble in buying and selling properties.
When I decided to take some time off from consulting, I pursued my real estate license in Las Vegas, Nevada. In my second year as an agent, I made it to the top 1% of residential real estate sales in Las Vegas. Soon after, I opened my own real estate brokerage and specialized in residential, commercial and business sales.
During this time, I managed to bring technology into my real estate business. It was the early 2000s and technology was not used by the masses in the real estate industry. I digitized my business as much as I could with a professional website, CRM, digital lead generation tools, etc. This helped my business significantly and kept me at the top of sales.
I was always fascinated by data, especially real estate data. This was such a powerful tool that I used to understand the market trends, gain clients' confidence and close more deals. At the time, I was the only one utilizing real estate data in my market. This is what eventually brought me into the PropTech space. I decided to marry my two passions, technology and real estate, with a focus on data.
How does your experience as a high-powered female businesswoman in the real estate industry compare to other sectors you have worked in? Is it a more challenging environment?
In technology, especially when I started over 20 years ago in the US, I was always the only female on the team/project. It was very much a ‘boys club’ and I would constantly have to prove myself above and beyond the norm.
I had to work harder and smarter than my peers and this really helped shape the professional I am today. I never expect the benefit of the doubt nor special treatment, I put my head down and get things done.
The real estate industry on the other hand, while still male dominated, has many female leaders today. Also, in PropTech, you see more women these days on the technology side.
In Dubai I never really felt my gender was a barrier. Perhaps it was my experience that gave me the confidence and thick skin to always push forward and see no barriers, which is exactly what I have done during my time here.
How would you describe your leadership style and what characteristics do you think a leader should have?
I try to lead by example and lift others up. I’m a firm believer that we are all on the same team and everyone has their own strengths to offer, so I make a point of identifying everyone’s strengths and utilising them to the fullest to help people grow.
I do not believe in micromanaging, and I allow everyone to have their own space and express themselves. I’m always happy to mentor those around me and offer as much as I can to promote growth.