Karen Simon is an admired women leader who is leading by example, aiming to impact the real estate business by exploring vast opportunities. She has been a mentor for women making their way into the sector for 30 years.
Karen has truly secured a position for herself in the commercial real estate field. She has taken the field by storm and emerged as a fierce leader bringing a revolution. She is an inspiration to countless, and especially to all women who feel that some industries are not meant for women. Her journey is unconventional yet remarkable in every way.
While being the President and Managing Partner at Emersons Commercial Real Estate, Karen has managed to run a platform designed to align resources and maximize values. She believes that female industrial and commercial realtors have made a great deal of progress and emphasizes that there is still room for growth and opportunity.
Emersons Commercial Real Estate is a large, full-service commercial real estate firm that includes property management, leasing, and sales in and around Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas. With offices in Oklahoma City and the Houston and Austin areas, the company manages over seven million square feet of property in the Dallas area alone and 100 million across the country through its partnership with 1045. With over 30 years of experience and a career that includes the execution of over 2,000 transactions across thousands of acres and 6 million square feet of property, Karen manages Tarrant County and other counties in the DFW area for Emersons.
Emersons Commercial Real Estate has put together a team of experts specializing in property management, accounting, leasing, sales, and consulting. Karen delivers industry-leading solutions matching clients’ expectations by putting together an efficient and hardworking team. She leads by example her team members and encourages them to explore the ever-increasing opportunities in Real Estate.
Getting Success in Male Dominated Industry
Karen began her career in 1982 with not just a bang, but an explosion, when she joined Henry S. Miller, the largest real estate company in Texas at that time. Before she left six years later, she would be the first female broker to be named the highest industrial producer in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
Unfettered by standing as the rare woman in a traditionally male dominated industry, Karen’s passion and determination have driven her success across every role she’s been in. As managing partner for Bradford Company from 2003 to 2014, she formed the entity board for the organization in Tarrant County and opened that location before serving in the same position for Tig, another industrial and office group. Now, Karen brings the same drive, skills, and expertise to lead Emersons Commercial Real estate as it continues to grow. In 2016, Emersons Commercial Real Estate offered her the opportunity to start its Tarrant County division as an equal partner and Karen found this as an “ideal” opportunity.
A woman of many talents acing all her roles with her sheer hard work and world-class performance she has explored her hobbies and interest in jewelry. Karen is also a custom jewelry designer and the owner of Rings from Things. Since 2011, she has specialized in serving third-party customers and has done trunk shows with Neiman Marcus.
Karen’s Partnership Forum
Karen shares, “Well, being a woman in the commercial real estate business in Texas was a bit of a challenge because when I started in 1983, no longer with the federal government, which was blind to gender, there were very few women in commercial real estate. When I became an industrial realtor in 1983, I was the first woman to hold that position in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. And I learned, as I would look at challenges, that clients really were not gender-conscious either, but other realtors were gender- conscious. So, I needed to do more than would be expected of my colleagues. I needed to know more about it. I needed to be willing to work harder. I needed to be more conscientious. Commercial realtors don’t usually work on the weekends, but if you are the only female industrial realtor and it’s more convenient to show a warehouse on Sunday, then it was worthwhile to be available to do so and I did. So, I would say being a woman in a male-dominated industry just required that I put forth more effort than my counterparts.”
Emersons was founded in 2004 by Richard Webb, who was both a broker and a banker by training, and Matt Price, who was a CPA and a broker. They formed the company because they had worked together on a family trust that extended into the commercial real estate area, particularly in management. They grew the company in the Dallas market and built their management component for property management. They opened or affiliated with a company that they considered a satellite in Oklahoma City. They had some representation in Austin and Houston. During the year 2016, Karen was selling them a piece of property because she represented in the State of Texas the excess properties for CVS Pharmacies, and they were buying a piece of property from her. Richard and Matt approached her about opening an office in equal partnership at Tarrant County. And then, about 2019, along with a company out of St.Louis called Priority Properties, they also formed a company called 1045, whose primary purpose was to manage all of Kroger Real Estate nationwide, which is about 2,800 properties and amounted to over 80 million square feet under management. The company then absorbed into 1045 the Kroger employees that were on the management side for their own real estate. The company has grown considerably since and made tremendous progress.
Empowering the Womens
Karen notes that Emersons has a substantial number of women and diversity in culture, from Caucasian, Black, Asian, Indian and Pakistani. “But it’s not a subject that we generally talk about. It just exists if that makes sense to you,” she says.
She observes that Emersons’ decision in 2016 to offer her the opportunity to start the office and give her the opportunity of partnership, is an example that they were blind to the issue of whether or not she was a man or a woman.
“They have women in comparable roles at leadership,” she points out. “The Head of Financial Reporting and HR is a female. I would say it’s just not an issue as when I went to work for the Henry S Miller company, where they had to make a serious effort to bring a woman in a leadership role because they had none.”
Emersons has women in leadership roles in their Dallas office and continues to do so. “I’ve never heard this discussion that we need to hire a woman because the women were there,” says Karen. “I think, like any business, Emersons are there to make money, but they don’t look to disadvantage others, or make money at the expense of others. They have a strong moral standard. They look to make money based upon the merit of what they do.”
Karen is determined that Emersons will continue to grow and that her office too will continue to grow. She’s hopeful that some of the opportunities that come to the company as a whole will come to her office too. “We may take on the responsibility of property management. I don’t think we’re there yet, but we are developing a larger portfolio of properties for lease, as well as sale. And that keeps our people busy,” she says.
Today, we see women lead leadership positions and shatter the many barriers that were once imposed on them. They are doing business the right way, creating histories, and embracing many new paths. Karen, an established business leader, shares solid advice for women in leadership to stand for themselves at every step of their journey.
“You have to make the effort if you want to maintain a good relationship and it’s more difficult for women than it is for men, because so often when men stand up for themselves, they say, it’s just following a good business practice. When it’s a woman she’s too aggressive. Uh, she’s too pushy that that gender difference still exists, but you do need to, as a female, stand up for yourself, but at the very same time, need to treat others fairly, and hopefully, it will come back to help you in the long run.”
Just Keep Doing What You Do:
Karen has some tremendous plans and she shares them with the utmost excitement. She states:
Not to retire: Working is a form of mental stimulation a person needs to continue to prosper in his/her life.
Continue to educate herself: We always need to improve what we know as passionate leaders.
Follow Current Trends: Keeping with what is current makes you a successful leader.
Clients are Priority: Putting the interests of clients before her priorities build and grow the business.
The Joyful Journey in Real Estate
According to Karen, she has greatly liked her time working in the real estate industry and the success she was fortunate enough to have. She believes that when she started Emerson’s, she discovered a place to belong since they allowed her to be an equal partner. Additionally, she believes that every day is different in the real estate industry. She recalls, “Unlike when I was teaching many years ago and I taught the same thing repetitively. I sometimes had a hard time remembering whether I’d said it to this class yesterday or whether or not I had said it today to another class. Everything is unique and different every day in the real estate business, and it is a joy to have that kind of opportunity.
Advice For Aspiring Women Leaders
Karen shares her insightful suggestions with aspiring women leaders.
Don’t be afraid to say—Don’t Know!
You should be willing to find out more and challenge yourself for your growth.