When #b#Jodi Pulice#/b# began JRT Realty Group in 1996 she was tired of being asked to bring coffee to people in business meetings she had arranged. Today she oversees the largest certified woman-owned commercial realty group in the country and is responsible for the leasing and maintenance of 150 buildings and more than 16 million square feet of properties.
Together with #b#Rosalie Edson#/b#, the founder and president of Meadows Office Furniture in New York and Fair Lawn, Pulice will present “The Act of Winning as a Woman” at the Industrial/Commercial Real Estate Women of New Jersey on Thursday, February 11, at 11:30 a.m. at the Woodbridge Hilton. Cost: $75. For more information call 609-585-6871.
Pulice grew up on Staten Island, where she spent a lot of time with the guys on the baseball diamond. “It was no surprise to the people who knew me that I went into the commercial real estate field,” she says. “I was always on a baseball field, I was always playing with guys. They never intimidated me. It was just part of growing up.”
On the field, she learned that those who played the game well were always respected for being good players. But at home, she had a difference experience. Her father was a New York City police officer, her mom a “typical Italian mother.”
“The way that it was stated to me as a kid was, you either leave the house by a box or by marriage,” she says. Her parents wanted her sleeping under the same roof as them every night, which made it difficult for her to go away to college. “I was always finding my way out of situations,” she says. “I was always trying to negotiate the situation.”
She earned her bachelor’s degree in bacteriology and public health from Wagner College, then got a job in sales for Northwest Orient airlines. “I had the highest income in sales, but every week I’d get the same paycheck, so I was getting a bit tired of it,” she says. Some of the guys she played baseball with as a child asked why she didn’t go into commercial real estate. She interviewed with the only woman she knew in the field and in 1981 was offered a job.
Pulice found her early days in commercial real estate challenging. “I had a lot of business I was bringing in, but it was very hard,” she says. “Twenty-five years ago the old boy network would come in and swoop down. I’d be either not included in the meeting or included in the meeting and asked to get coffee for everybody. The more business I was bringing in, the more I saw this and the more disenchanted I became at working like that.” She took her customers and opened her own company.
Pulice now has offices in California, and on the east and west sides of Manhattan. Her clients include the United Nations Federal Credit Union, New York Life, and AT&T. She has a staff of ten, seven of whom are women. She is committed to bringing qualified minorities and women into her leasing teams and as contractors.
“I now have more minority and women businesses working for me than any other company in the United States,” she says. “Because it just snowballs.”
A few of her tips for success for women entrepreneurs include:
#b#Make sure you have a good accountant and lawyer#/b#. As her clients’ needs expanded westward, Pulice found it challenging for her small staff to keep up. Her accountant and lawyer advised her to either stay small or to grow the company on a national footprint.
They suggested that if she wanted to grow the company, she form a strategic alliance with a national firm. “I didn’t know what that was,” she says. “It’s basically a side-by-side relationship with a firm.
My strategic alliance is with Cushman & Wakefield, which has offices all over the country. I can have someone from that office show space for me.”
#b#Get your business certified as a minority and women’s enterprise#/b#. “I filled out the application and becoming certified just made me different,” Pulice says. “Because I was the only commercial real estate firm so certified, it was possible for me to be on city, state, and federal government lists.”
Take advantage of as many opportunities as you can. Pulice encourages women to put as many irons to the fire as possible. She urges women to keep themselves educated on everything they become involved with.
#b#Give opportunities to the people in your company#/b#. “I really rely on my employees to take part in my success,” says Pulice. “My success is the information they give me and their success rides along with me. The success of my company is largely based on them and they know that. And I know it. It gives me the impetus to just keep going.”
Compared to when she started out, Pulice sees glimmers of hope of greater equality in the workplace. She is especially encouraged by the requests for proposals she sees that mandate bidders have a plan to incorporate women and minority businesses.
She recognizes that commission-based jobs are paid equally but thinks there is still a gender-based wage gap in salaried jobs.
“On many levels, I feel it has changed,” she says. “I always think to myself that if you prove yourself, that if you prove you are confident, there will always be a way. I have that in my case. I just hope it’s that way in salaried situations. I wish it was a lot better than it is.”