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“Women Power” powers DLC’s transactions team

"Women Power" powers DLC's transactions team

The Transactions Team, from left to right: Crystal Louis, Peri Drazin, Carolyn Whitsett, Christine Jaykus, Anya Wolf, Rebecca Allardyce, and Dea Wolfert.

Sometimes, the fast-paced world of real estate transactions is like raising a family. It requires patience, attention to detail, and the ability to do more than one thing at a time. That’s why it shouldn’t be surprising that DLC’s highly successful transactions team is not just comprised entirely of women since the summer of 2021; it is comprised entirely of mothers.

“It wasn’t part of the plan,” said Anya Wolf, Senior Vice President of Real Estate Transactions. “I’ve had men on my team before, and it just naturally gravitated toward being an all-female team, who are mothers as well.”

The transactions team facilitates acquisitions, refinancings, dispositions, and recapitalizations. They also address environmental concerns and cleanups at the growing portfolio of open-air shopping centers. Interestingly, many of Wolf’s team moved from other DLC divisions after finding transactions interesting. Wolf noted that they also have a trait that’s exceptionally helpful in this specialty.

“What really works for my team is that we are beyond excellent multitaskers,” Wolf noted. “Of course, that’s not a trait that’s specifically female, but it has become a trait among mothers because of necessity. Applying those traits to their professional roles in transactions has been seamless.”

The evolution is due in no small part to the team’s supportive culture, an extension of DLC’s overall corporate culture — most of the team have been with DLC for several years. The company was recently named a “Great Place to Work” for the seventh consecutive year. Each member of the transactions team has a defined role — but that doesn’t mean that they don’t pitch in when necessary. Wolf’s team supports each other and allows as much flexibility as possible to accommodate a work-life balance.

“It’s not always easy. We sometimes have timelines that are stricter than other departments. I’m not going to say that you’re never going to miss something,” she says. “But we have created an organization within my team that has the support that allows people to live their lives while succeeding in their high-functioning roles in closing multimillion-dollar transactions almost on a weekly basis.”

A meeting with the transactions team impresses everyone with its attention to detail and enthusiasm for getting the job done. Its supportive nature provides the environment to accomplish a critical task when someone is absent—or even the emotional support when a colleague needs to vent.

“We’re all still human. We all still want to feel comfortable and have that support,” Wolf noted. “We are inspired to feel challenged and can succeed because of our support for each other.  The culture of my team beyond the work has shown through and is seen throughout the company.”

It’s a lesson Wolf learned very early in her career from a long-ago supervisor who didn’t value employees as people with their own needs and concerns.

“A couple of us made it through, but it shaped me,” she said, discussing her approach to positive mentorship at the company. “I knew what I didn’t want to provide to people. People won’t stay through that. It’s not sustainable and it was important to me to create a sustainable team, not just for me or the company as a whole.”

Wolf began with the DLC in an entry-level position on the transactions team seven years ago, rising through the ranks and watching it evolve. But the Covid-19 pandemic created her success.

“I came into this position shortly after the pandemic began,” she related, citing the female department head at DLC who served as mentor. “We didn’t have a cultural shift as an organization, but the bonding and working together became more evident for us during that time.”

Even today, the entire DLC organization is on a hybrid schedule, with staff coming into the office three days a week. But that doesn’t mean the company has slowed down. While other shopping center owners/managers struggled to finance new deals during and after the pandemic, DLC has been well positioned financially and in terms of team strength to proceed. It went on the offense, and late last year, a joint venture of DLC and funds managed by DRA Advisors acquired four major open-air shopping centers with an institutional investment partner.

“In 2023, it was harder to transact because of the volatility of the debt market,” Wolf said. “But we continued to be extremely persistent, and we refinanced, sold, and bought properties as well last year. We were still able to make it happen.”

DLC acquired several shopping centers in 2023, including Cornerstar Shopping Center in Aurora, Colorado, which has brought DLC to a new market and region in the Rockies. More should follow, as DLC ended 2023 with an announcement that it had raised institutional capital from Temerity Strategic Partners.

That should keep Wolf and her team busy for the foreseeable future. DLC will use the funds to grow its assets by $2 billion in coming years, taking advantage of the current market disruption.

But don’t worry — the moms have it.

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