by:Jessica Abo

I had the pleasure of interviewing Andrea Davis, principal of Andrea Davis CRE has over 20 years of experience in the commercial real estate market. Since then, Andrea has closed over $220M worth of transactions, totaling over 1.5M square feet. She is uniquely diverse in all aspects of commercial real estate working with landlords, tenants, sellers and buyers with office, industrial and/or retail requirements and her business was named one of the best by Ranking Arizona. Davis’s introduction to commercial real estate career began with WAM Development Group and provides her a valuable perspective in site selection, property comparison analysis, negotiations, and resourceful transactional follow-through. Andrea is an active CCIM Member since 2008 (Certified Commercial Investment) and receiving the Chairman’s Gold Circle Award.

Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us the “backstory” behind what brought you to this point in your career?

I am a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and decided to pursue cooking, modeling and acting in New York City. After 12 years in those industries I came to Arizona in 1993 with a makeup kit, a backpack and six magnificent designer couture gowns. Always having been a hard worker, I also was waiting tables at the time in Scottsdale, at the Marco Polo Super Club where I served 12 Canadian developers during the Phoenix open. After three nights of impeccable fun-filled table service, each independently pitched me to work for them. I choose the developer with an office in Scottsdale who pioneered the redevelopment of Downtown Scottsdale where I was the executive assistant. I sponged up all the knowledge I could and wore any hat to get the job done from marketing to leasing coordinator and creating development proformas. After three years, the company I was working for returned to its roots in Edmonton and I stayed in Phoenix and focused on the brokerage industry.

I have worked for boutique brokerage companies, specialty developers and national brokerage firms. Currently, I own Andrea Davis CRE (commercial real estate) where I assist business owners in purchasing and leasing office space. I help landlords lease their space and building owners sell their commercial buildings. We focus on the big picture — where is your company today and where you want it to be tomorrow.

Can you share with us how many children you have?

One. Plus, a husband. Does that count as two?

Where were you in your career when your child was born/became part of your family?

I had hit a powerful stride in my career. Developers were asking me to sell their new commercial real estate office condos. Investors were seeking commercial investments, landlords wanted my team to lease their properties. My career in commercial real estate was on fast track to property ownership, asset management and development.

Did you always want to be a mother? Can you explain?

From a young age I dreamed of the day I would be a mom of a large family. I was a shy girl growing up and my family is where I found joy and happiness. I wanted to continue this love with a family of my own. Being a career woman never entered my mind.

Did motherhood happen when you thought it would or did it take longer?

Motherhood for me is a miracle.By time I hit my 30’s and a divorcee, motherhood was no longer on the horizon. It was another broken childhood dream.

If it took longer, what advice would you have for another woman in your shoes?

Hold your dreams close. Never let them go. Believe in yourself and the power of the Universe.

Can you tell us a bit about what your day-to-day schedule looks like?

  • Wake up, feed the dogs and take them out for early morning play
  • Wake my 13-year-old daughter, put breakfast on the table and a snack for school
  • Check emails and texts — handle any time sensitive matters (in 5–10 minutes)
  • Send the family out the door with hugs and kisses
  • Shower and dress for the day; apply makeup if time allows
  • 50% of my day is spent at meetings outside of the office with clients, potential clients and vendors.
  • 3:15 PM is the magic time I need to pick up my daughter from school
  • Go back to work, grocery shop or call the husband and ask him to pick-up dinner
  • Make dinner, help with homework, run the dogs
  • Review tomorrow’s schedule and layout what is needed for the day
  • R & R — designing a project, reading, puzzling or watching a movie
  • 2–3 times a week I skip out early morning for league tennis. Then do a quick change before heading out to my first meeting.

Has being a parent changed your career path? Yes… Can you explain?

When Mikella came into our lives, I was committed to putting my career on hold and being a full-time mother unless we found the perfect nanny. Afterall, I had waited a lifetime for this opportunity. We interviewed a dozen potential nanny’s and the prospects we dismal. None of them even asked to hold our precious 6-week old bundle of joy! Then, in walked Mary Poppins. We hired her on the spot, and she stayed with us for 10 years. My work was close to home which allowed me to be with Mikella in the mornings and early evenings. Often, I met Mikella and our nanny for fun classes during my lunch hour.

When the market changed, so did my job. I traveled 45–60 minutes to work each way, pressures were high in the office, and lunch was impossible to spend with my daughter unless they were in the area. One day Mikella said, “Mommy, how come I never see you anymore?”

My heart broke. What was I doing? I waited my entire life for this opportunity, and I was missing my little girl grow up. Talk about a wake-up call! My personal career goals would simply have to wait. I gave my two week notice and opened my own business, Andrea Davis CRE which allowed me to manage my time.

So, what if I wasn’t going to get the sexy commercial real estate listings working for REITS or win awards within my industry. I was going to raise my daughter and love every minute of it!

Companies tout that family comes first. I haven’t found this to be true. Not for the female, at least.

Has being a mother made you better at your job? How so?

Yes, being a mother has made me better at my job. I am empathetic of other parents’ day to day challenges.

I also believe my job has helped me be a better mother. When our daughters grow up, they will have the same choice to make as their mothers. Will they go to work, have a career or be a stay-at-home mom? How does a woman balance a career and be a hands-on mom? I’d like to believe I am setting an example for my daughter on how to balance life in a hectic, demanding world. If she chooses to have a career and children, she can reflect back on how I juggled the balls to make it work for us.

Life isn’t always perfect; it’s how do we strive to learn from our challenges and move on.

What are the biggest challenges you face being a working mom?

Balancing guilt-free personal time with business and family.

Are there any stories you remember from the early days of parenthood that you want to share?

Our first summer spent in the White Mountains riding horses was a step back in time. The remote, off grid community inspired Mikella to build a tree fort. We grabbed a bucket of tools and invited the other kids to join us. It became a secret meeting place for the kids. Each year they added to fort until the lot was purchased and developed into a 2-story tree fort cabin.

Are there any meaningful activities or traditions you’ve made up or implemented that have enhanced your time with your family? Can you share a story or example?

On weekends we make brunch together, cooking pancakes from scratch and all of the accoutrements.

Each winter we sew a warm pair of pajamas and design arts and crafts when time permits.

My daughter loves cosplay. She found a character she wanted to play and decided to sew the intricate outfit versus purchasing it on Amazon. We picked out patterns at the fabric store, selected 10 yards of fabric and notations. The next step was to to design the dress piece by piece. Mikella spent 4 months sewing the gown. She stayed focused and committed. When she had a question or got stuck on the ‘how to’, we worked through the next step together.

Project completion coincided with Fall Break in NYC. Mikella wanted to photograph the elaborate red gown there. For two days we scouted locations in the city. We catalogued her favorite areas and when the sun returned, we spent an entire day shooting pictures of her cosplay character all over NYC from Central Park to the High Line.

We all live in a world with many deadlines and incessant demands for our time and attention. That inevitably makes us feel rushed and we may feel that we can’t spare the time to be “fully present” with our children. Can you share with our readers 3–5 strategies about how we can create more space in our lives in order to give our children more quality attention?

  • When you are with your kids, turn off the cell phone, hide it in a drawer or throw it out the window.
  • Block off time on your calendar for family time.
  • Find time to take a hike or play a game with your kids.
  • At dinner of bedtime, ask your kids to share their favorite moment of the day and their worst moment.
  • Find out what your kids like musically and listen to it with them in the car. Watch those crazy memes and vines with them and laugh out loud. Hold back on judgement.
  • Hire a cleaning crew or someone to do the yard work and spend that time with your kids.

How do you inspire your child to “dream big”? Can you give an example or story?

First, I listen to my daughter to hear what her current interests are. Second, together we devise a plan to achieve her goal.

From a young age Mikella has been an intuitive dancer and trained in dance for years. She regularly preforms musicals and plays at her school. Recently she has incorporated voice lessons into the mix with a target on being a triple treat. While in NYC, we toured Julliard to understand admission criteria.

Mikella was 12 at the time. Yes, we dream big in our household and we encourage a back up plan.

What are your favorite books, podcasts, or resources that inspire you to be a better parent? Can you explain why you like them?

My mom is my best resource for being a better parent. She is patient, patient, and patient. Always with love and compassion. She strives for solutions and supports who we are.

Additionally, I observe other parents to see how they inspire their children or navigate them through tough times.

Untangled by Lisa Damour, Ph.D. has been very helpful moving into the teen years.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote” that you share or plan to share with your kids?

  • Walk your talk. Actions speak louder than words.
  • Love rules.
  • Follow your heart.
  • People remember how you make them feel.
  • Be ready what you wish for.
  • Life returns what you give.
  • A smile can change someone’s life.

Our household is full of Life Lesson Quotes!

If you could sit down with every new parent and offer life hacks, must-have products or simple advice, what would be on your list?

  • Keep the lines of communication open without judgement. Listen and listen some more. Minimize comments unless asked.
  • Get your kids outside more. Encourage human interaction.
  • Reduce phones, computers and AI interaction whenever possible.

Thank you so much for these insights! We really appreciate your time.