Vivianna Schwoerer – Fellow Spotlight

What is your occupation and how did you come to work in this field?
My experience as a corporate attorney and passion for real estate led me to join WeWork as Director of Real Estate Transactions in 2016. In this role, I negotiate domestic and international commercial office deals while driving them through to closing. I arrived here by a series of small steps and positive influences that have enabled me to accomplish something greater than myself.

My parents stressed the importance of real estate ownership from a very young age. I was introduced to the fascinating world of commercial real estate as an associate of the New York Law School Center for Real Estate Studies. In my 3L year, I earned a scholarship and invitation to a two-year professional mentoring program from the WX New York Women Executives in Real Estate. Additionally, my work within the real estate groups at Louis Vuitton, Christie’s International Real Estate and Pardalis & Nohavicka LLP, offered unparalleled exposure to the field and solidified my desire to affect real estate on a global scale.

It’s been a long way from my hometown in the Bronx, New York!

What is the biggest challenge of your work?
I negotiate multi-million-dollar commercial real estate deals on behalf of the largest and most innovative tenant in the world. The rush of negotiating these deals, especially on behalf of a company whose mission aligns with my values, is an incredibly rewarding and high-pressured experience. This is especially the case when I am one of the only women or persons of color at a negotiation. Truthfully, it’s taken some time to realize that I’ve earned my seat at the table as a Latina woman, and not by accident. Though, I recently learned as a CUP Fellow that the “imposter syndrome” is quite common, even amongst the most successful individuals.

During a recent conversation with a prominent real estate executive, I expressed the need to create more opportunities for women to become decision makers within the commercial real estate space. We tested my theory by counting the number of business cards owned by woman decision makers from a stack of roughly one hundred – we identified one.

Fortunately, I work for a company that promotes the advancement of women in real estate. It is empowering to walk into a negotiation with a team of women lawyers, engineers and business professionals that are changing the face of the industry.

What is your proudest achievement?
My proudest achievement has been graduating from law school and passing the bar as the first lawyer in my family at the age of 24. I am blessed to continue carrying the torch my parents used to create a solid foundation for my family in this country. I navigated the law school admissions process on my own, as I knew not a single lawyer when I decided to pursue my degree. I quickly realized during my 1L year that I needed to supplement my learning with internships and build a solid network of my own if I wanted to be successful. That’s exactly what I did.

What leaders, thinkers or doers do you admire most?
I admire authentic leaders who consciously work to inspire those around them to be their best selves. A true leader knows how to respond to challenges and takes a moment whenever necessary to reflect on the best course of action for the collective group. I appreciate doers that lead by example, especially when faced with adversity. It takes a great deal of self-awareness to promote accountability, especially while taking calculated risks in order to generate a greater organizational impact.

Where do you see yourself in ten years?
I hope to become a trailblazer that forges a path for diverse individuals to become leaders in the commercial real estate industry. I will continue to pay it forward by taking on mentoring opportunities and teaching real estate law as an adjunct professor. I’d aspire to own a portfolio of real estate and empower individuals from low socio-economic backgrounds to do the same. I intend to accomplish this by serving on non-profit and corporate boards, becoming a thought leader and a published author. I’d also like to start a family of my own at some point!

Did you have a mentor or do you mentor someone else? How has that experience changed you?
My life has been enriched by mentors who have served as mirrors at many stages throughout my personal and professional growth. My mother and father were my first mentors who showed me the importance of integrity, humility and tenacity.

Organizations such as CUP, the WX New York Women Executives in Real Estate, NYLS and Stony Brook University have connected me with incredible mentors that have contributed greatly to my success. More importantly, my mentors have enabled me to pay it forward.

I mentor many individuals, formally and informally. I encourage all of my mentees to meet regularly with professionals they admire for informational coffee meetings, take on leadership roles within academic and professional organizations, and align themselves with individuals who take keen interest in their development.

What do you hope to gain from your CUP Fellows Program experience to help you make a significant and positive impact in your community?
The CUP Fellows Program has taken me on a remarkable journey of self-exploration, thought leadership, and powerful networking. It’s created a safe space to reflect on my values and hone my true talents, all while developing lifelong relationships with like-minded leaders who inspire me in so many ways. With the help of the CUP leadership team and my executive coach, I feel closer to becoming an effective leader than ever before, one that inspires authenticity and promotes the advancement those around her.