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CBRE’s Karson traces Anna Squires Levine’s Industrious career

This hardly ever happens, but we’re hoping it happens a lot more often. The most recent Fried On Business show featured two exceptional businesswomen, one interviewing the other.

Arden Karson, Senior Managing Director for South Florida at CBRE, appeared for the company’s The Edge segment to have a conversation with Anna Squires Levine, General Manager of Coworking at Industrious.

Now, if you haven’t heard of them, Industrious is the largest premium flexible space provider in the U.S.

For her part, Anna has been recognized in the Forbes 30 Under 30 list and has been named a Global Shaper by the World Economic Forum.

Joining Industrious was a big change for Anna, but a welcome one, she said.

Anna grew up in Philly and has traveled often to South Florida. She studied organic chemistry with plans to become a doctor or join a pharmaceutical drug company.

But she shifted gears and joined McKinsey & Company to work on projects aimed at eliminating pediatric HIV in South Africa.

Anna told Arden that Industrious was in the “toddler” stage when she arrived. It was a small company with a proven product.

Initially, she had a hand in everything. Now, as the General Manager of Coworking, she oversees all physical locations, as well as sales and operations.

Anna said the company has been very successful in Central Florida already and is eagerly eying opportunities in South Florida.

Project announcements are coming, she said.

“We’re here to be the experts are making you really productive at work every single day,” she said.

There are other providers in the space, so Arden asked how Industrious goes about differentiating itself.

Industrious views coworking, or flexible workspace, as not a niche product but rather an evolution of how people want to use commercial real estate, Anna said.

Most organizations that become clients of Industrious want a high-quality experience and a layer of services that they don’t have to plan, she said.

The focus is on quality, and that means things like marble countertops and leather couches. Full breakfast every day. Coffee, tea, sparkling beverages and snacks. IT and printing services. Space for hosting your own events. Access to Industrious properties in other locations.

“There’s a space when you want to be in your office, head-down, doing work. There’s a comfy couch when you want to be out in the open, listening to a radio show or a podcast like this in a bit more of a social environment. There are beautiful conference rooms where your clients will be really impressed to come,” she said.

“We really focus on making sure, in the details, that every single one of those experiences is something you’re proud of and makes you more productive.”

There is no particular target regarding industry, Anna said, but most Industrious members are mature, well-established organizations. The formula has proven successful in a variety of real estate types and locations, including retail settings.

“In terms of geography and submarkets, we look for locations where people want to be during the day – where they want to work, no matter what kind of setting it is,” she said.

Arden asked how having Industrious as a tenant might impact the performance of a commercial real estate property.

Anna said the company is taking steps to quantify that very thing, but their assessment is that the effect is positive. In some cases, amenities are available to all building tenants, not just Industrious members.

Arden concurred. CBRE, she said, is also studying the trend and, so far, the numbers indicate better value for property owners who have coworking tenants.

Anna is obviously an outstanding young businesswoman, so Arden asked about the career advice she might give to women seeking to be in leadership positions?

“I’ve never really known what’s next. I don’t have a 20-year plan. As evidence, in my career, I’ve seen a lot of changes that to many people seem to be out of left field, and yet to me have all added up to a set of experiences that are meaningful where I’ve been able to contribute to the world and also learn a ton,” she said.

“So my first piece of advice is it’s okay if you don’t know exactly what you want to do or where you want to go. I don’t think most people do. I think it gets really intimidating when you think you need to.”

Second, it’s important to build a spirit of camaraderie within an organization – talking about what’s easy and hard. Talking about what you’re good at, what you’re not and what you’re learning. Celebrating victories and enduring defeats together.

The third piece of advice can be summed up in three words: Go for it. That may not be appropriate for every decision, she said, but sometimes it’s the best way to make progress where the downside risk is small.

This was an impressive interview. Don’t miss it. Click here to listen to Arden Karson’s entire conversation with Anna Squires Levine of Industrious.

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