Q&A with CREW Atlanta President Jodi Borges-Bradley

April 13, 2020

As a way to get to know the CREW Atlanta leadership better, we will be interviewing the board members on their thoughts on CREW Atlanta, the commercial real estate industry, workplace issues and life in general. First up is CREW Atlanta President and Managing Director / Principal at IA Interior Architects Jodi Borges-Bradley.

Q. What has CREW done for you?

CREW has changed my life in ways I never saw coming, and it has been priceless. I joined CREW in 2007 and was fortunate to be selected for the leadership program in 2008. I have held several leadership roles in the chapter, from vice chair positions to just raising my hand to help with an effort. CREW has allowed me to make lifelong connections, both personally and professionally, that have helped me realize I have value to add to this industry. It’s helped me learn strengths that help people get unstuck. It also has helped me be less nervous about public speaking. Through CREW, I have absorbed how the real estate industry touches legal, marketing, property management and asset valuation – so much more than I was aware of from my design-focused lens.

Q. What attracted you to interior design?

My path was in performing arts. In my first life, I was a classical ballerina, but I switched gears when I realized that joints are not everlasting. In college, I connected with visual art, and my sense of process and being solution-driven led me into interior design. It’s something where I can add value and provide a personal touch in various spaces – workplace, hospitality and retail.

Q. What is your biggest challenge?

I want to make an impact by adding value and being intentional every single day. For me, impact doesn’t mean some large project opportunity or a new design solution that will change the industry. It’s about relationships — helping a designer realize her potential or connecting a new client with an existing one to form a relationship that benefits all parties.

Q. What makes a successful leader?

Great mentors I’ve had are really good listeners. They are patient and quick to process information but hold their emotions. There is a level of empathy that I think is needed as a leader, but that can’t be the driving force. I have learned that having hard conversations that give people “feed-forward” information (as opposed to feedback) is the best time spent as a leader. But you have to do it in a kind way.

Q. What is your best advice for women in commercial real estate?

I believe individuals present their own biggest challenges – the preconceived notions that is brought to the table, the assumptions made without facts, the past that is allowed to creep into the present. They are what make each of us unique, but your focus should be on your strengths and abilities. I think that applies to everyone.

Q. What would you like to share about your family?

My family dynamic is not very traditional, but it works well for us. I am remarried and my husband lives full-time in Birmingham with two “bonus” kids. I have two children of my own that I co-parent in Atlanta. What’s beautiful about that is it affords all four of our kids the same opportunity to have their other parents close to them. That’s a concession that we have made to benefit our children. We will celebrate our third wedding anniversary in June.

We manage our professional and personal lives with energy and passion, and by figuring out what family means to us, we have set our own rules to create the family dynamic that best fits us.

Q. What do you like about your current role?

I have been so energized and inspired by joining IA Interior Architects. I’ve been in the Atlanta market for 23 years in the design industry and joined IA in September 2018. Before that, I was at one firm where I got to grow in a lot of different ways. I love the foundation that I received, and it was a big leadership leap for me to shift.

With my family dynamic, I work from Birmingham a couple of days a month. I have a laptop and a phone, so my office is always with me. I’m embracing the connections and the people I have been able to surround myself with in this stage of my career. They give me energy.

Q. What is the most important thing you’re working on right now?

I am building an amazing team with IA. I am getting to create a melting pot of strengths from the Atlanta market and across the country that allows us to be focused and intentional about being a thought leader in interior architecture.

Q. What commercial real estate trend is top of mind?

An important trend is the way workplace design is shifting. The buzzword “resimercial” describes the blend of a commercial work environment with components of hospitality that make you feel like you’re at home. That has really influenced the ways we are designing office space for clients, and we’re seeing that more often in a lot of the projects that we are working on. It’s about finding the balance of an effective workplace that allows multiple ways to work and is also comfortable.

Q. What would you be if you weren’t in commercial real estate?

I would probably be the owner of a coffee shop at the beach – and it would have a happy hour. I love people and I love connecting with them.