CA Search Advisors is excited to continue with our five-part profile series highlighting women in real estate. Each month through September, we are featuring an amazing woman in the real estate field exploring her professional journey, inspiration, and advice to students and young professionals looking to build a career in the industry.
As a woman and leader in the real estate industry for more than 25 years, Nina Tran, Chief Financial Officer, Veritas Investments, Inc.; is our fourth profile in this series. Nina has had a remarkable career with a wealth of impressive accomplishments that include playing a major role in two successful IPOs and three major M&A transactions. She is also a Board Director for the Apartment Investment & Management Company (AIMCO) and serves as the Audit Committee Chair. She is also on the Advisory Council of the Asian Pacific Fund and Mynd Property Management. She was selected as one of the Bay Area’s Most Influential Women in Business for 2017 by the San Francisco Business Times and was also recognized by BisNow as one of the Top 40 Power Women in Real Estate in 2016 and 2017.
If you have the opportunity to meet with Nina, you will understand immediately why she has been so successful. She is kind and a good listener with a calm demeanor, a natural leader. While she is very measured and thoughtful, she is truly passionate about making companies great. Additionally, Nina has the confidence necessary to take career risks, which has led to her incredible success.
Nina has always loved building things from scratch and knows what “great” looks like. She enjoys evaluating the current state of a company and has a keen eye for identifying gaps and areas for improvement in people, process, and technology.
Nina started her career in the early 90’s with PricewaterhouseCoopers in public accounting auditing and was exposed to various industries. She gravitated towards real estate knowing her function could have a direct impact on an asset’s value over time.
Nina was recruited to join AMB Property Corporation where she spent the next 18 years of her career. She was part of the IPO team when the company decided to go public in 1997 and was promoted to Chief Accounting Officer in 2007. She traveled the world establishing finance and accounting teams in various countries as the firm grew globally. In 2011, AMB merged with Prologis, Inc. and Nina was promoted to Chief Global Process Officer. She took on the enormous responsibility of evaluating and integrating two global organizations. The end result was the biggest global industrial REIT. Prologis is the largest owner, operator and developer of industrial real estate, operating in 19 countries across the Americas, Europe and Asia. The combined portfolio totals over $136 billion of AUM, comprised of over 4,650 buildings and 5,500 customers.
Nina was sitting in a comfortable position with Prologis when she was recruited by Waypoint Homes to take on a Chief Financial Officer position. Waypoint had been struggling to find the right person having had three CFO’s in the two years prior to Nina taking over the role. Over the next four years, she was part of the executive team that took Starwood Waypoint public and played an integral role in leading two mergers and acquisitions.
Nina is most proud of the success she had after taking the risk to move to Waypoint. Prologis was a large, stable, and established company. There was so much uncertainty in making a move to a new Single Family Rental (SFR) sector with this very young company in early 2013. Nina had the confidence in her abilities to be successful where others had failed.
After Waypoint’s second merger with Colony American Homes, the company made the decision to move their headquarters to Arizona. Since the majority of Nina’s family resides in the Bay Area, she was not open to relocation and joined Veritas Investments, Inc. in 2016 as their Chief Financial Officer.
Veritas is a San Francisco-based owner and operator of multifamily and mixed-use assets in the San Francisco Bay Area and Southern California. Nina currently oversees Finance & Accounting, FP&A, Technology, Business Process Improvements, as well as People & Culture, which is something she really enjoys. She is helping to develop talent, recruit and build a culture that is inclusive and diversified. Additionally, with Nina’s responsibility of overseeing Technology, it allows her to step out of the normal finance and accounting areas to evaluate and implement the latest innovative tools in real estate and Prop Tech.
Nina understands that the right people with the right competencies need to be in the right positions to take a company to the next level. At the heart of her success, is the way she views and treats people. Nina knows what great and successful teams look like and how to build and foster teams that can work toward a common goal. She is a leader that instills confidence and inspires trust and loyalty in her team and, in return, those teams have accomplished much under her direction and guidance.
As the head of Veritas’ People and Culture initiative, Nina led the company to create a mission statement and establish core values. She helped to build a culture of accountability and transparency. Nina tries to be fair, objective and supportive of her teams. She is a big proponent of providing proactive communication, which she says is so necessary when navigating through major corporate changes. She also emphasizes the need for the “Fun Factor.“ Everyone works hard and sometimes you need to take a break and get to know your co-workers in a more light-hearted environment. One example is the bi-annual Veritas Olympics where employees are split into different country teams to compete in office Olympic events, which has helped to create cross collaboration of departments and levels of people, in addition to being fun. She also started VWIRE (Veritas Women in Real Estate) to help women (and men) with career planning, provide mentorship, and address topics such as work/life balance and other timely subjects like how women can continue to enhance their careers during a pandemic.
Nina’s leadership style is definitely effective as people want to continue being part of her team. Today, her core team includes over 20 people who have followed her to Veritas from AMB/Prologis and Waypoint.
When asked about her biggest career challenge, Nina will candidly answer, “Being a minority and a woman has been challenging at times.” Early in her career, she didn’t see a lot of women in the industry, especially at the executive and board levels. Currently, she is the only minority on AIMCO’s Board and appreciates the opportunity to bring a diverse perspective to the Board as an immigrant woman. Nina also addressed what is referred to in the Asian community as the “Bamboo Ceiling” and how she worked hard to overcome this barrier and continues to make sure there is a voice at the table for other Asian women.
Fortunately, Nina has had very supportive sponsors and managers throughout her career. They saw her potential, work product and abilities, not her gender or ethnicity. Thanks to that support and the opportunities to prove herself, Nina successfully progressed in her career.
Nina is also busy outside of the office. She identifies herself as part of the “sandwich generation” with two teenage kids and aging parents. She and her siblings share time caring for their parents. Additionally, her daughter is a competitive junior tennis player, so they spend most weekends traveling together as a family to tournaments.
Nina also dedicates a lot of her time mentoring other women in the real estate industry. Her advice to them:
- Raise your hand a lot. Especially early on in your career to take on projects that are outside of your normal day-to-day tasks. This is what will get you noticed in your career.
- Don’t be afraid to step out of that comfort zone and try new roles. Women have a tendency to be more tentative in their careers. Believe in yourself, be confident and take on new and challenging roles; you will surprise yourself.
- Find an executive sponsor who supports and believes in you. Not necessarily your direct manager, but find someone outside of your department that sees your potential and can help guide and support you.
It was such a pleasure getting to know Nina Tran. It is very likely that you will continue to hear her name in real estate circles because she is nowhere near done accomplishing great things.
CA Search Advisors, LLC is a national executive search firm, focused on the real estate industry. Our managing principals, Katie Becker and Amy Bauer, have a deep inside knowledge and extensive long-standing relationships as a result of working directly in the industries they serve. You can rest assured that you are in good care and in the hands of a firm you can trust. Let us bring the best talent to you!