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Thriving As A Woman In a Male-Dominated Industry: Elizabeth Eberle of Dealpath On The Five Things You Need To Thrive and Succeed as a Woman In a Male-Dominated Industry

An Interview With Candice Georgiadis

In the United States in 2022, fields such as Aircraft piloting, Agriculture, Architecture, Construction, Finance, and Information technology, are still male-dominated industries. For a woman who is working in a male-dominated environment, what exactly does it take to thrive and succeed? In this interview series, we are talking to successful women who work in a Male-Dominated Industry who can share their stories and experiences about navigating work and life as strong women in a male-dominated industry. As a part of this series, we had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Elizabeth Eberle.

Elizabeth Eberle is Vice President of Marketing at Dealpath, the industry’s most trusted, purpose-built real estate platform, empowering hundreds of leading institutions including Blackstone, AEW, Oxford Properties, Nuveen, Principal Real Estate, and Bridge Investment Group to invest in the built world. Eberle brings more than 20 years of experience to this role, where she develops and manages product and corporate marketing strategies for Dealpath to generate company sustainability and profitability. She has held leadership roles in marketing across several industries and companies throughout her career, including VTS, Ecolab, General Mills, and IDEO.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood “backstory”?

I grew up in downtown Chicago- an incredibly vibrant, cultural mecca and wonderful city. My father was a corporate lawyer, and my mother was a creative copywriter for Marshall Fields before she stopped working to raise me and my two siblings. Back then, my dad would go off to the office and I was fascinated by what would happen at work. My mom is the most creative person I know- I often wonder if my mother had been encouraged to pursue a career what an advertising creative powerhouse she would have been. After I had my own children, I elected to keep working as I knew I would enjoy having both a family and the intellectual and creative outlet that working provides me. I am grateful every day that I get to immerse myself in business challenges, creatively solve problems and build something daily that solves real customer pain points.

Can you tell us the story about what led you to this particular career path?

I’ve always loved Marketing, starting from an early age. As a child of the 80’s, I watched a lot of TV, and particularly loved commercials and brands. My family and I would often say, “Did you see the new Coke commercial?” and talk about why we loved it. I went into advertising immediately out of college and loved working on iconic brands like DiGiorno Pizza and Gatorade. As I have continued in my career, I’ve truly enjoyed Marketing being one of the biggest drivers of a company’s financial growth and brand’s success. It’s not just about the creative output, but how marketing can serve as the strategic driver of growth for your business.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

I’ve had so many wonderful career moments and stories, it’s hard to choose just one! I’ve met some really incredible people that have challenged me to think creatively and subsequently put me in positions where I had to get out of my comfort zone. One such career story is when I spent a year leading “Holistic Margin Management” for the Salty Snacks business at General Mills. I had the honor of working directly with the Chex Mix, Gardettos, and Bugles food plant in Milwaukee, WI to see how we could achieve cost savings in order to re-invest the savings back into advertising to drive top line growth for the P&L. Twice a month, I’d fly to Milwaukee, where I worked closely with the plant managers, line workers, procurement and supply chain leaders by donning a hard hat and steel-toed shoes to go hear directly from employees how different decisions and changes in packaging, ingredients, and SKU proliferation made at Headquarters had downstream negative impacts on margin management, efficiency, and profitability. I was able to take these insights by being in the plant, on the front lines with the workers to see where we could make improvements to the product for consumers, and save time and money in the production so I could reinvest the savings into topline growth initiatives like advertising and marketing to improve the overall P&L. I truly enjoyed my partnership with supply chain and manufacturing, which has made me a better general manager and business leader.

By the way, you should taste Bugles as they come off the line fresh! Absolutely delicious!

You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?

Constant Learning & Evolution: I have taken a wide variety of Marketing roles in B2C, B2B, as well as industries such as Food, Design, Cleaning & Sanitation, and Commercial Real Estate. I often say that I’ve sold cereal, soap, and now software! I believe that by taking less traditional and interesting paths, I have become a “Great Marketing Athlete,” one who can see a business problem, define a customer or consumer pain point, and come up with solutions and messaging that help to solve those problems. This agility and curiosity have come from wanting to constantly grow and learn through new experiences.

Taking Risks: I haven’t followed one career path and have worked in a wide range and stages of companies. I’ve worked in Fortune 100s as well as early-stage start-ups. The risks I’ve taken are exciting and where I believe I’ve grown the most as a Marketer and Leader. In 2019, I moved to New York to go from Fortune 100 companies to tech start-ups. I contracted for a while with a few start-ups and learned that I enjoyed bringing my marketing toolbox from large companies and applying the strategy, structure, and frameworks to smaller, entrepreneurial companies. When I started at Dealpath, I was employee #38 at their Series B level of financing. I’ve had the privilege of growing this company 2x over my time here, raised our Series C, and just surpassed 100 employees. It’s really exciting, and I’m glad I took the leap from a big to smaller company!

Self-Awareness: To me, the biggest marker of an employee with potential is self-awareness. I am keenly self-aware of my strengths and weaknesses and intentionally hire people on my team who can elevate our game in areas where I do not have expertise. Not only that, but self-awareness holds you accountable, and challenges you to seek out others who can help you develop your weaknesses into strengths.

Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. Can you help articulate a few of the biggest obstacles or challenges you’ve had to overcome while working in a male-dominated industry?

I actually see more opportunities than obstacles for women working in a male-dominated industry in this day and age. Within Commercial Real Estate, there is an impressive group of women who are strong leaders, businesspeople, and role models. Because we are a smaller group, I get access to this invaluable network of high-powered CRE women because we are so few. For example, I arrived early to a Real Estate Tech conference recently in New York City to help put up our Dealpath booth and had every intention of leaving once the conference started to get back to the office. But once I was there, I had the opportunity to meet with so many women in Real Estate who walked up to our booth to engage me in conversation and wanted to learn more. I ended up staying the entire two days and was able to make connections and build relationships that were really informative and meaningful.

Can you share a few of the things you have done to gain acceptance among your male peers and the general work community? What did your female co-workers do? Can you share some stories or examples?

The biggest thing you can do to earn trust with anyone is to follow through on your commitments- doesn’t matter whether the person is male or female. If you say you are going to do something- it’s simple- follow through and do it. When starting in a new organization, I like to put together a 90-day plan which entails a listening tour with the executive team, cross-functional leaders, and really everyone I can get to. I have a set list of 8 questions that I ask everyone. The fascinating part is to hear how different people in different functions at all levels answer the questions. I look for key themes, discrepancies, and the biggest areas where I can make an impact. I then create a “90-day action plan” and share it with every person I interviewed as my way of saying, “Thank you for taking your precious time to onboard me. I heard you, and here’s where I believe I can make the biggest impact on the organization quickly.” From there, it’s “go-time,” and I execute like mad to deliver on my commitments. It sets the tone from the beginning, and you gain acceptance, trust, and understanding of yourself as a leader, your approach, and what change and impact you will make both in the immediate and over time.

What do you think male-oriented organizations can do to enhance their recruiting efforts to attract more women?

Work Flexibility Is Key: Let’s be clear, there is no such thing as work/life balance, but rather there are work/life choices, and great talent is going to gravitate to where they are able to make the best choices for their current life situation. Organizations should understand that both women and men need to have the ability to go to life events. If you are a parent, you may have parent-teacher conferences, kid’s sports events, or, more often than we’d like, a sick kid. If you are flexible on working hours, I guarantee your employees will give you 120% back, and it might be early mornings or later evenings. Personally, I’ve appreciated how Dealpath has unlimited PTO and a flexible/hybrid work environment which allows me the flexibility to bring my whole self to work.

Ask For A Diverse Slate Of Candidates With Your Recruiting Teams From The Start: Like a marketing demand gen funnel, recruiting funnels start with the quality of the candidates from the beginning of the recruiting process. I always ask my recruiters for a diverse slate from the first round of interviews. It sets the tone of the search from the start and guarantees that we meet people of different professional and personal backgrounds who can bring new perspectives to our business.

Ok thank you for all of that. Here is the main question of our interview. Based on your opinion and experience, what are the “Five Things You Need To Thrive and Succeed as a Woman In a Male-Dominated Industry?” (Please share a story or example for each.)

  1. Collaborate: Working as a team is essential to a business’s success. No business, or team within that business, can run as a one-man or woman show. In conjunction with that, don’t be afraid to speak up about your ideas, regardless of your gender. Everyone has something to bring to the table, and it’s important that one feels they have the freedom to share their ideas with their peers. Historically, women haven’t had a seat at the table, but times have changed. The more opportunities we as women take to collaborate, the more we are seen and heard by our peers.
  2. Share Victories: Win as a team. There is no better feeling than assembling a smart, creative, energetic group that focuses on one goal and crushes it! It builds a strong team and company culture all around.
  3. Bring Creative Solutions, Not Problems: There will always be challenges that need to be faced, but the key to overcoming them is to be solution oriented. It’s easy to become overwhelmed by a problem and then create more problems in the heat of the moment to try and fix it right away. Stop, take a deep breath, and take the time to think and present a solution to the problem rather than scrambling to make it right in an instant or just focusing on the issue, which can lead to more headaches.
  4. Radical Candor: It’s incredibly important to be honest with your colleagues, and sometimes those honest conversations can be tough. It should never be someone’s goal to dwell on a mistake. Radical Candor means you are coming from a place of caring, but also want to challenge that person to do better. I’ve made a point of instilling this idea of Radical Candor in my team, and it’s allowed us to have clear lines of communication, as well as holding us accountable for our work, without being aggressive or demeaning.
  5. “Make The Soup Better”: What I mean by this is to respect and appreciate what has been built at a company, particularly when you first join. I had a mentor at a very male-dominated company once say to me, “The Soup here is really good, your job is to come in and make it better.” I loved this phrase because when you come into a new organization, you want to first seek to understand what has been built, what is really working, and then what you see that can elevate the team, the product, the brand, and the marketing to make it even better. By recognizing what is great about an organization that’s already in place, it makes you more approachable and more valuable to the organization from the get-go.

If you had a close woman friend who came to you with a choice of entering a field that is male-dominated or female-dominated, what would you advise her? Would you advise a woman friend to start a career in a field or industry that’s traditionally been mostly men? Can you explain what you mean?

I’ve always looked for opportunities that would yield the most growth, both personally and professionally. I would advise my friend that if the best opportunity currently presented to you has business momentum and you are going to learn a lot, then take it. Bonus if it is in a male-dominated field. That will allow her to catalyze even more change by bringing a different perspective that will make the company grow faster. My last three roles have been in male-dominated industries and companies where my male counterparts were great supporters and champions. I believe most hiring managers- male or female- want to find the best talent and have all the best intentions to hire a diverse team.

Have you seen things change for women working in male-dominated industries, over the past ten years? How do you anticipate that it might improve in the future? Can you please explain what you mean?

I have. Ten years ago, I didn’t see as much emphasis on diversity, equity & inclusion within companies from leadership or, better yet, coming organically from employees. Today, you see more leaders and teams realizing strong business results from assembling diverse teams. With these successes, more companies will push for culture, recruiting and retention practices, and employee networks that bring in a wide range of diverse experiences and people to drive exponential growth. There is still work to be done, but the conversations and openness to evolving industries, hiring, and retaining talent practices are there.

We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.

Kathleen McCarthy, who is the Global Co-Head of Blackstone Real Estate. I’ve admired her leadership style for years and have made a point of emulating it in my own leadership role at Dealpath. She’s also a great example of a woman who has been incredibly successful within the male-dominated industry that is real estate, and serves as a role model for all the other female real estate professionals, myself included.

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.

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Candice Georgiadis

Candice Georgiadis is an active mother of three as well as a designer, founder, social media expert, and philanthropist.