Community, Culture, and Cancer

Local Facilities Management team member, Katie, shares her story of personal and professional growth.

May 25, 2022 3 Minute Read

We sat down with Katie to learn about her career journey, challenges, and celebrations. Katie is part of the CBRE Local Facilities Management team based in Chicago, Illinois and has been with CBRE since 2013. She was the Real Estate Manager for the Harold Washington Library before being promoted recently to Account Director at Chicago Union Station.

What were your priorities as Real Estate Manager? 

The end all be all is the delivery to the client, but how you deliver to the client is just as important. In my role it is not only how I serve the client, it’s the culture of my team, my work life balance, and service to my community. The team needs to bring their A-game every day. It’s all about collaboration – between client, vendor, engineering, and security. 

The Harold Washington Library has a massive presence in the community and people rely upon our services. Most people do not know that CBRE manages numerous historic properties and public assembly properties like arenas, libraries, and transportation hubs.
There are jobs that feed your family and there are jobs that feed your soul – my work as a CBRE Account Director feeds my family and my work as Vice Chair of CBRE Cares (CBRE’s philanthropy arm) and Co-Chair of CBRE Chicagoland DE&I (Diversity Equity & Inclusion) – these are the areas that feed my soul. Both areas are crucial to me personally, to remain well rounded so that I can deliver the best possible outcomes to my client.  

What is the history of the Harold Washington library?

The Harold Washington Library is the largest public library in the northern hemisphere and the second largest in the world. Located on the northern edge of Chicago’s Printers Row neighborhood, the site footprint spans one city block, 11 stories tall, with superb access to transportation, education, recreation, and entertainment. The library is managed by CBRE and owned by the City of Chicago.

Five massive owls, long held symbols of the Keepers of Knowledge, look down from the top of the HWLC and are augmented with swirls of leaves and seed pods representing growth and wisdom. One Great Horned Owl atop the main entrance and four Barn Owls in each corner clutch an open book and papers in one talon and the other talon is ready to strike. HWLC opened to the public on October 3, 1991, and is the Chicago Public Library "Mothership" of 81 library branches throughout Chicago. 

You were diagnosed with Breast Cancer in 2020. How did that impact you both personally and professionally?

When I was first diagnosed, I was incredibly scared, I honestly did not know how it would impact my career. I waited weeks before I decided to share the news with my team, I did not want to be perceived as a weak link. During this time, I decided to reach out to an old colleague of mine from St. Louis who had been through a similar experience, she gave me incredible advice on how to navigate this diagnosis, align it with my career and encouraged me stand in my authenticity. 

When the time was right, I shared the news with my team, and all my colleagues at CBRE. Everyone was incredibly supportive throughout the entire process of surgeries and short-term disability in a way that allowed me to return to my career with dignity and pride. I was inspired by my own experience to offer support and become a champion for people with breast cancer by creating a CBRE awareness group. 

In 2021 your team was awarded the TOBY what did that achievement mean to you?

In my personal and professional life excellence is always the consequence of being prepared and being brave enough to take risks, learn and grow. In 2021 the Harold Washington Library Team was winner of the TOBY (The Outstanding Building of the Year) in the Local, Regional and National category. The TOBY award is the most prestigious recognition that building owners and managers can achieve in commercial real estate. This awards program recognizes quality in commercial buildings and rewards excellence in building management.

The past year has been nothing but a whirlwind, personally and professionally, one of the most challenging of my lifetime, but in the same breath, one of the most wonderful, too. You are always being called to do something greater – but you will not hear the call if you are not being authentic and honest with the people in your life and living with moral principles. In that regard, I always choose to surround myself with people who are kind and have genuine interest in my success.

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