Realizing Wellbeing Through Purpose-Driven Work

Senior Recruiting Business Partner, Garland, shares her thoughts on maintaining wellness in mission-driven work.


Tell us how your journey led you to CBRE

I'm a Senior Recruiting Business Partner. I've been with CBRE for about three years. My role has evolved, but essentially, I'm a part of our talent acquisition team and responsible for the Pacific Southwest region of the Advisory and Transaction Services Group. I work primarily with hiring managers and division leadership coming up with strategies to find top talent.

I started to realize real estate was a thing when I worked at ZIP Realty—which at the time was the beginning of era. This was back in 2001, 2002—which sounds like not that long ago, but it was almost 20 years ago. This was still with the residential side of real estate. It wasn't until I got an opportunity at JLL that I even started to think about commercial real estate. I did have a [salesperson] real estate license in South Florida because it's fairly easy to get one there but had never thought to leverage it for commercial. That just wasn't on my radar. So I think a part of the passion I bring to what I do is because I am my own customer.  I know that there's a lot of people that don't know about commercial real estate because I didn't. In order for us to know, we have to be exposed. I can spread the message that this is a career path and show here are things that you can do because I get to see a lot of the positions; I get to see a lot of what's available. I've learned to determine what are the skill sets and the transferable areas where one can move.

You mentioned not knowing about Commercial Real Estate. Is lack of awareness and access a common barrier for one entering this industry—specifically in your experience as Afro Latina?

There are a few factors. When you secure your real estate license, [the curriculum] it's focused on residential. The examples that they use and how they even teach it is focused on residential. The idea that you can even use the license towards commercial isn't even a thought. So that's number one: it isn't really taught as “here is the variety of the places that this license can be leveraged.” I'd say number two is that no one thinks “Who owns this high-rise building?” “Who owns the mall? Or the hotel?” The idea of ownership when you were, at one point considered property, and having an ownership mindset is something that we will have to overcome and learn. I'd say the third part is, historically, we know in this country Black [and Brown] people haven't had a lot of access to a lot of things. There's a book called The Color of Law that really breaks down how the laws from redlining have disproportionately kept us out of these spaces and it was legislated at one point, so I don't think the legacy of that disappears—even though the laws change. I think the legacy of that is with us because if your grandparents and your great-grandparents didn't have property, the chances that you will have it is very, very small. That's just historical context that I know people don't like talking about, but to me, history tells you where you've been so that you know where you're going. So historically, we've not had access to this industry. 

Is that what drives you to Diversity, Equity & Inclusion work?

I'd say the DE&I part started when I first got into this role. I had primarily worked in places where there was a little bit of everything. There were all kinds of people, generations, races...everyone. So my first time in the LA office, I looked around and I was like “I grew up in LA. Essentially, this is home for me and the LA I know is a diverse LA,” so when I walked through the office, I thought “Wow, where are all the people that look like me? Where are the variety of, ethnicities or even, at the time, younger people?” We had a very big group of people who are over a certain age that work in commercial real estate. I was feeling like what they call “First, Only, Different,” like you're only one of a few that’s there. I'm in a recruiting role, how can I change this? How can I find more people who, may not know anything about this work? And so that became my own personal mission. It wasn't anywhere on my performance evaluation, it wasn't a metric anyone else was measuring, just me saying to myself, “I wonder if I do this, what will happen?”

Doing this work is not without its challengers and can be physically and mentally exhausting, especially as we witnessed events in 2020 that not only shook the nation, but shook the world. What does maintaining wellness, self-care, and downtime look like for you?

You’ve got to find places of Black joy and liberation. This is why I was watching Girlfriends [television series]. This is why I was going on rides to the beach. This is why I was taking naps and walks. I have a Jamaican girlfriend who lives in Singapore. She's on a 16-hour time difference and she was there seeing all this happening in America like “what is going on?” So we would be each other’s therapist of sorts and a person to check-in with. Our conversations were just very healing, and very like “we're gonna be OK.“ We got off of those calls feeling like whatever is going on out there, as long as we are able to still find joy, happiness, laughter and continue to be able to talk to each other, it just felt it was going to be OK. We would have honest check-ins. She's a photographer. She did a whole portrait series, and she would show me [her work] and then we would have conversations about it. It was can you support yourself with your people? The outside world is going to be doing whatever the outside world does. When you have your sanctuary at home, how you create peace for yourself in the spaces that you're in—I think that is key.

I like to cook! I'm a plant-based eater; it was a family decision. My partner started doing it for health reasons. I am the cook of the house, so I thought OK, I'm going to support him on his journey. Before, I was making gumbo and all the things, so it's not like I became a person that liked to cook only since I've become plant-based. I like to cook because it's creative for me. I follow a recipe sometimes, or to see the order of things and what the general gist of it, and then I go off and do my own thing. I enjoy making things, trying things, and having my family eat it and love it. And baking with my daughter. She likes to bake; she's the baker. Sometimes I'm helping her or I'm just waiting to taste, so that's always fabulous.

I also like listening to audiobooks. I love to salsa dance. I do Cuban style salsa, it's my happy place. Going out for some sun or to see a live band. Bike riding on the beach with my family. I love going on Santa Monica Boardwalk or the trail there and we just go ride bikes. The breeze, the sun, and the's something!

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