Hey there Allison, tell us a little about your role at Willow.
I have recently been named as the Global Head of Investor Relations and Capital Development, responsible for leading Willow’s global external capital activities. I joined Willow as part of the North American Engagements team as Vice President under Kevin Danehy, our North American CEO – a role I will also continue with going forward.
These two workstreams are both very exciting and complimentary, as they both involve telling our Willow story to existing and potential investors as well as future customers. I am looking forward to the opportunity to get to know our wonderful group of existing investors. I feel honored and privileged to step into this global role and am endlessly grateful to the entire executive team for this special new opportunity.
What were you doing before Willow and what led you to the company?
I am a born and bred New Yorker; I also went to college in Manhattan at Columbia College/Columbia University. Believe it or not, I have been to Australia many times and actually lived in Sydney for my Junior year of college, attending UNSW. Australia is so amazing and one of my favorite places in the world; so it’s really meaningful to work for a company headquartered there with so much Australian pride.
I have always had many diverse academic passions, so much so that it made it challenging for me to choose ultimately what I wanted to do for my career. I feel lucky as I have been able to work in my family’s New York City-based real estate development/management business and also for CBRE in New York, Canada and London. I also have a background in construction/project management and LEED-certified development.
While at CBRE I focused on real estate strategic planning/operational performance improvement for multinational clients. Some of my major assignments at CBRE ranged from facilities outsourcing, development studies, corporate portfolio and location strategies around the world. I was also on the business development side of the GWS business for many years, which is where I had the good fortune of meeting Kevin Danehy, our Willow North American CEO.
It was during this time at CBRE that I became fascinated with organizational psychology/change management/neuroscience and went back to graduate school to pursue this line of neuroplasticity — “plasticity” can also refer to a business’ adaptability, efficiency and structural resilience, enabling it to pivot, innovate and evolve as the world changes. My focus was on how to harness neuroscience to embed sustainable behavior change through plasticity of brain connections and pathways through deliberate practice — so much of my academic and clinical work informs much of my work today in the engagements side of the business at Willow. I think that investing also, of course has a very psychological side to it, as does the idea of embracing change which is so important in our world of digitizing the world around us.
Post-pandemic I think so many of us took stock of life, and I truly missed the world of real estate and when I saw what Kevin had been doing at Willow, I knew it was a sign to return back to my real estate roots – but with a very forward-focused tech narrative. Kevin and I like to call it “confluence” (when things come together), so, here I am!
What do you love most about working at Willow?
I truly believe that all Willowers are leaders and all leaders are Willowers. It’s not just lip service or an empty corporate slogan.
At Willow, we are all thought leaders. We collaborate closely with our clients to transform their world, it’s not just about a transaction.
I truly love the people and the energy here; it’s unique, special and something that I value and find incredibly meaningful. To me, thought leaders like Josh Ridley and like Jim Cooney; who I am lucky to collaborate with both on a daily basis, are individuals who change the narrative. Changing the way people think can be like steering the Titanic; this is where my background in neuroscience and clinical psychology comes into play — essentially, leaders can pull the zeitgeist in a direction using their expertise and experience. At Willow, we are all thought leaders. We collaborate closely with our clients to transform their world, it’s not just about a transaction. I have heard Josh say this many times, it’s meaningful so — let’s give him credit on that one!
What is unique about Willow’s culture?
The Willow culture is forward-thinking — without people willing to have these big conversations, we remain stuck, we remain stagnant and things can’t easily change or grow. Also, I really see Willow as a “dream team” in pursuit of ambitious common goals, all “running together”. We have an amazing collaborative spirit and sense of community. I have been welcomed so warmly and feel like I have gained a new wonderful group of friends who are like family.
What do you find most exciting about working in tech?
As I mentioned earlier, I have always been passionate about working in many facets of real estate — working in the tech space is incredibly exciting; we can empower every person and organization to connect with the built world in a whole new way. Together with our employees, customers, partners and communities, we are making the world more sustainable, connected, intuitive and innovative. At Willow, in the tech space we are finding unique perspectives and approaches to solving problems across many industry verticals.
Together with our employees, customers, partners and communities, we are making the world more sustainable, connected, intuitive and innovative.
What projects are you currently working on?
I was recently a part of the Willow Project “Ike”. On this specialized and focused team, we honed our efforts on the most recent capital raise, raising a total that exceeded Willow’s target. It was such fantastic work and I am looking forward to continuing it into the future as part of my new global capital development role. I believe in our Willow story, our platform, our people — the sky is the limit both here in Australia and beyond, across the entire globe. It is truly a special thing to see our many different Willow team(s) transcend time zones and come together to reach our goals — it is almost as if the thousands of miles don’t exist when we are all working in concert.
It truly embodies the “keep running” motto — something that informs my work each and every day.