Kathy Anderson Featured in Mid-Atlantic RE Journal’s Women in Business Spotlight
“The credit markets are dysfunctional, it’s our job to stay informed and anticipate upcoming trends.”
What is your current position and responsibilities?
I’m the Founding Partner, and that means I’ve got a lot on my plate. I’m basically responsible for every aspect at Progress Capital – growth, production, corporate governance, marketing, taxes, real estate ownership/management, the well-being of all our employees and most importantly, securing commercial mortgages for my clients.
Why did you choose the profession you are in today and when did you realize you made it?
I never set out to be the owner of a commercial mortgage brokerage firm, it almost feels like this profession chose me when certain doors opened and I decided to go through.
The realization that I had made it in this field came gradually. When I began my company three decades ago, there were very few women in this industry. As I expanded my business, I started noticing that successful commercial real estate owners were seeking my advice and guidance for financing their projects. This was a turning point for me. It was incredibly empowering to know that these accomplished entrepreneurs trusted me to secure the capital they needed to grow their businesses.
Closing my first $100 million loan was another significant milestone that made me appreciate how far I had come. Going to a large closing with 20 people sitting around the table and knowing that I was a major part of making this happen, that’s a pretty good feeling.
Lastly, I will always remember being invited to speak at an industry event with over 500 attendees. Not only did the audience show an interest in what I had to say, but there was a line of people waiting to talk to me afterward. That felt pretty amazing.
I am an entrepreneur at heart and while it’s not always easy being the chief, I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
What has been your greatest professional accomplishment so far?
Each time I close a loan and my client is happy, I take a moment to be proud of the accomplishment. It is particularly exciting though when the very large and difficult transactions are closed. A few memorable transactions are $160 Million loan on a 642 Apartment Complex in Jersey City; helping my client sell his self-storage portfolio for $152 Million; and closing on the acquisition of my first of many commercial buildings. My biggest accomplishment is that my two sons share in my love of our business and have joined the company. I love what I do and get to see my sons and share this crazy ride with them every day.
What impact has social media had on your business?
While it may seem like social media took a long time to impact the CRE industry, I find it to be a crucial part of my business every day. All social media platforms are proving to be great tools for networking with existing clients and reaching out to potential new customers. Instagram allows us to showcase the lighter side of Progress Capital, while LinkedIn has been particularly valuable for professional purposes. I’ve been able to build an industry network of over 10,000 connections, affording me a direct line of communication with industry professionals, peers, influencers, and clients – which is truly priceless. The ability to regularly engage with our clients, market our successes and new initiatives, while also influencing industry discussions with my peers, has changed the very core in which we operate.
What distinctive qualities or characteristics do you believe contribute to your success in your profession?
They say you can see the true character of a person in times of crisis. Let’s rewind to 2008, when the financial crisis posed a significant test for me as the lending markets froze and banks were collapsing. I didn’t know what was going to happen to my company. But, after many sleepless nights and grueling 12-hour workdays, Progress Capital (and I) came through stronger having survived this very difficult time.
My clients, who I fought for during those tough years, appreciated my tenacity and many of them are still with me today. These experiences have helped me to navigate through subsequent dysfunctional times brought by the Covid-19 pandemic and today’s interest rate environment, which feels similar to 2008.
What daily challenges do you encounter in your profession and how do you effectively address them?
Most of my professional challenges have been market driven. We all know the commercial real estate lending rules are changing, but we are on it. Thanks to our longstanding relationships with both clients and lenders, we are immediately aware of how these changes impact all sides.
In the past year, we’ve excelled at helping clients secure financing to smartly leverage their assets. No one can be certain of what lies ahead, but it’s our job to stay current, informed and anticipate upcoming market conditions and trends.
Is being a woman an advantage, disadvantage, or neither in today’s business world? Why or why not?
Personally, I’ve found that being a woman in the commercial real estate financing sector often comes with its advantages, particularly when attending conferences and networking events. It’s uplifting to see women gaining more recognition in what was once a male-dominated industry. Honestly, I am just as comfortable sitting in a room filled with men or women. At the end of day, we all just want to work together quickly and efficiently.
Who have been your mentors or influencers throughout your career?
I’ve been fortunate to have several influencers in my journey. Len Green stands out as a fantastic mentor when I first began my career. I’ll forever appreciate him for recognizing my capabilities and giving me the opportunity to prove myself. Additionally, I owe much gratitude to my intelligent and loyal clients over the years. Working alongside them as they evaluated, constructed, renovated and purchased commercial real estate has enabled me to hone in on my skills and thrive in this field.
What outside activities do you enjoy during you free time?
Whether it’s a day at the beach or a simple dinner gathering, I love making memories with my 3 grandsons – who are all under the age of three.
What encouraging words would you share with a young woman considering a career in commercial real estate or a related field?
I’d advise her to step through every door of opportunity without overthinking it. The mortgage brokerage industry isn’t something you can learn from textbooks. There’s no set formula for success in this field. It’s a blend of financial expertise, negotiation skills, and sheer persistence. I’ve noticed that there are still relatively few women who opt for this profession, and I’d love to see more of them enter the industry. It’s been a rewarding journey for me, providing both a successful career and the flexibility to raise a family while being actively present.
Originally published in Mid-Atlantic Real Estate Journal.