Bisnow named Dr. Eloisa Klementich, Invest Atlanta's President & CEO, as well as Dawn Luke, Invest Atlanta's Chief Operating Officer, as two of their 2018 Atlanta Power Women at a ceremony on November 29. The honor recognizes our city's top leaders in commercial real estate. Both Klementich & Luke answered a few quick questions about themselves for Bisnow:
How do you describe your job to people who are not in the industry?
KLEMENTICH: As the CEO of Invest Atlanta, the economic development arm for the city, I have the opportunity to oversee all the work we do to impact jobs, investment, and people’s quality of life in Atlanta.
LUKE: My role as Invest Atlanta’s COO is to make sure the internal infrastructure is in place to manage the programs we oversee effectively. That includes our infrastructure and our HR services. This allows us to deploy our program teams to focus their efforts serving our residents through our job creation, affordable housing, and community development tools and initiatives.
What is the biggest business problem you have faced and how did you solve it?
KLEMENTICH: The biggest challenge I face is figuring out how to ensure our tools and programs meet the evolving needs of our businesses.
One recent example of this was providing gap financing for businesses, specifically startups, who are now shifting from traditional office environments to shared workspaces. We realized that because our small business loan programs were tied to leases, we were limiting ourselves in how we could help the growing percentage of entrepreneurs in these spaces. Once we figured that out, we tweaked our loan guidelines so that we no longer tie them to a lease, and instead just require they be located within the City of Atlanta.
LUKE: One of our biggest problems is information sharing. We’ve implemented a CRM system to be able to better share information internally and externally and to manage our clients.
The other challenge that we have is figuring out a strategic way to communicate about our work. We do so many great things and we have so many tools in our toolkit, it’s sometimes challenging to market those effectively. We’ve done that by making sure we have a strategic marketing plan for all our different audiences, including residents, small businesses, developers, and homeowners.
What is one thing you think companies can do to address wage and gender inequality?
KLEMENTICH: Companies first have to look and evaluate themselves with a fair and open set of eyes. To do this, they can bring in an outside expert to do a salary survey to ensure you are paying people fairly and competitively.
LUKE: The first thing companies can do is to conduct a pay review to ensure their employees receive equal pay for equal work.
They also should have policies and procedures in place that make it easier for both women and men to be workers and family caregivers. What often happens is that when a woman has a child or need to care for a sick family member, and they end up leaving the job market to go. These gaps in employment can hurt them down the road. Companies that offer paternity leave right away are sending a message that the husband can be part of that process too.
What piece of advice do you give others entering the industry?
KLEMENTICH: You have to love and be passionate about what you do. Because there’s going to be a lot of challenges, a lot of hurdles, and if you don’t have that passion and drive, you’re going to walk away. In this industry, you have to stay persistent if you want to accomplish something. In the end, if you’re passionate about what you do, you’ll be willing to push forward until you’ve reached your goals.
LUKE: I tell them three things. First, they should have a passion for the work. Second, the need to commit fully to delivering value to their clients at all times. Third, they should never stop learning and working to improve.
What do you do to unwind when you’re not working?
KLEMENTICH: To unwind, I run. I run about a 5K, on my own, four times a week. It’s funny because my kids will sometimes notice I’m stressed and say to me, “Mom, do you think you need to go on a run?”
LUKE: I spend time with my family and friends, especially my husband and daughter. I also take in football, both college and pro, any time I can. I love to watch the Falcons, and recently traveled to see my Falcons play the Saints in New Orleans.