Pay It Ahead: “By no means Run From A Problem” Advises Capital One’s Cathy Janke

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Pay It Forward:

Cathy Janke is Senior Vice President, Commercial Real Estate Lending at Capital One. Janke, based in Dallas, will be responsible for the issuance and administration of agency and balance sheet loans.

Cathy Janke Cathy Janke, photo courtesy

What was your biggest challenge or biggest obstacle as a woman in your particular role? I would say my biggest challenge was reaching the executive level. CRE remains predominantly male dominated which can be daunting, but I've always been fortunate enough to work with very supportive people who lift me up and offer growth opportunities. I like to volunteer for projects and offer my support to others, which gives you both notoriety and the opportunity to learn something new. Never run away from a challenge.

Commercial real estate has historically been a challenging industry for women. This is gradually changing, but where does commercial real estate for women need to be improved? Women don't want opportunities because of their gender, but because they are earned through hard work and wisdom. I still see qualified individuals (not just women) who have been passed over for opportunities because of nepotism or those the other candidate knew. Unfortunately, the “good old boy” network still exists. However, I firmly believe that the younger generation is more open to gender and race equality, which hopefully will allow the industry to grow out of this challenge.

How can women better position themselves for success in general and in your particular focus? Women really need to be out there and really get involved in organizations related to their industry. Volunteer to be on a committee or help with a specific event. For years I went to the industry for breakfast or lunch and wondered why I had no real connection with the organization. That all changed when I got onto a committee that really interested me.

What's the best advice you've received that has helped you succeed in your industry? To pay in advance. I grew into who I am today because people cared about me and my work ethic. You gave me an opportunity and it is up to all of us to do the same. We need to share our experiences, provide guidance, and provide opportunities for future leaders.

Two pieces of advice for the next generation: 1) Help others by sharing your knowledge. and 2) giving back and serving with a nonprofit or other organization whose mission resonates with you and that makes a difference in your community.

What can women bring to the table in particular if the industry continues to grapple with the COVID-19 crisis? Common sense and a sense of responsibility. We can judge negatively how or when this crisis will subside, or we can take an integrative approach with our customers and partners. Nobody caused this situation, but we are all affected and it is up to us to rummage through it together.

Would you advise your daughter to start a career with CRE? Absolutely! The possibilities are endless and there is nothing like the feeling of being part of a property that is changing a city's skyline. If you take a piece of dirt and turn it into a place for someone to live or buy food, it means something – it's tangible. I love that about CRE and I want every little girl to have this opportunity. To get started, I would recommend doing an internship with an engineer, general contractor, developer, etc. to see which focus within CRE is the most interesting. These kinds of opportunities really didn't exist in my youth, but if they had been I could only imagine the success I would swim in today!

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