The month of March is a time for celebration, empowerment, and recognition of women around the world. As a Women Owned Business, Waldner’s is thrilled to honor this occasion by shining a spotlight on the remarkable women leaders within our industry.

Throughout March, our ‘Women’s History Month Spotlight Series’ will feature various women making transformative strides in our field. Each spotlight will offer a glimpse into the inspiring journeys of these remarkable individuals.

Our next spotlight is on Erica Wagner, SVP & Head of PepsiCo Global Real Estate.

1. What is the proudest moment in your career journey thus far?

My quick answer: Consistent Tenacity. It is always nice to be recognized for the big things – Headquarter projects, promotions, taking on more complex roles, etc. But, I truly am most proud of enduring, navigating, and thriving in many challenging situations throughout the course of my career in a manner than has resulted in me becoming a more compassionate human, a better leader, an empathic business partner, and an accomplished mentor.

I have had tough bosses, difficult customers (internal and external), and like everyone else – experienced the impact of Y2K, 9/11, the Gulf War, the Real Estate Boom, a crisis in the Middle East (which caused my brother to be deployed), the Wall Street Crash, the recession that impacted retail, residential, banking et al in extraordinary ways. I learned how to shed unnecessary Real Estate very well between the years of 2008 and 2015. In the midst of this I finished my undergraduate, graduate, and law degree. I got married, adopted 5 children, moved 6 times, bought 5 houses, sold 3, bought a property and a business, and served across 5 different industries and in 5 client-side roles. #biasforaction

When I reflect on this, I am grateful for the resilience that I continued to harness through many challenges, and the mentors that were foundational to my success. In the context of “what am I proud of?” I am proud that I listened to people who were wiser than me.”

Erica's 5 children

2. Share a challenge you have faced in your career and how you overcame it.

I am consistently brought in for transformation. This typically means that the business is undergoing massive change, and someone has realized that Corporate Real Estate should be operating at a more strategic level, lead with enterprise thinking, and acting as a business partner inside the organization. While that sounds appealing, I learned that often what leaders say they “want” is more closely aligned with what they discern is necessary; but they are not always ready to embrace.

As a result, a “do as I say, not as I do” culture can be implied at the outset. Given that so much of my career has required notable change championship, I feel like the “challenge that I have overcome” has consistently been influencing the senior leadership to become the advocates of sustained transformation within the work environment. Culture is impacted at the top levels of leadership, and this correlates very closely with the level of success that any change within the work environment will have.”

Erica Wagner

3. What advice would you give to the next generation of women in the workplace?

“Don’t be like everyone else. Find ways to show up differently. Keep your eyes and ears open – listen a lot, contribute in meaningful ways. Don’t speak unnecessarily. Establish good habits; and aim to eradicate the ones that are not serving you. Most men want to help you succeed, mentor you, or be your advocate. Don’t “hang your hat” on the reality that Corporate Real Estate was a male dominated profession. Most professions were at some point in time. It does not serve our male advocates to highlight this disparity; and it is not really relevant.

Find the male champions – there are many. There is so much value in having diverse collaboration. Champion women! We do not do this enough for each other. If someone has arrived at a milestone prior to you, celebrate them radically even if you wish it were you being recognized. Never settle; harness a mindset that we are all here to change the world. Be humble. Be kind. It’s not that hard to be nice. Build into others. Anything you give will come back to you in manifold, incalculable ways – but this isn’t the motive that should be employed. Learn every day of your life. Know what you are good at and do more of it. Know what you are *not* good at and find people who are – then delegate. Above all else – be YOU. It is fine to admire and honor someone who is impressive; but it will not serve you to aspire to something or someone that you were never built to be. And they were not built to be you. BE YOU. There is a reason why “know thyself” has gone into posterity.”