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What initiatives work in hitting DEI targets and how can we avoid tokenism in Real Estate? With Jeanne Casey and Jacinda Lofland


On this episode of Propcast, Louisa speaks with Jeanne Casey and Jacinda Lofland from Nuveen Real Estate. They talk about what led them to the innovation, sustainability and technology space at one of the largest real estate investment managers globally. Jeanne and Jacindaexplain what works in creating a diverse and inclusive powerful team, and how to avoid the issue of tokenism. They elaborate on needing strategy and investment decisions and how ESG, technology and community play a part in all of it. Lastly, they’ll give us some home truths about what they think needs to change in terms of adoption and integration. The key takeaway from this episode is that the crux of the diversity issue is around retaining, promoting and genuinely empowering diverse talent that’s already within the organisation. 


Companies Mentioned: 

Shout Outs: 

Key Insights From This Episode:  

  • In 2021 we saw a 30% increase in ESG consultants and a 26% increase in ESG analysts. We also saw a 20% increase in innovation. – Louisa 
  • The crux of the diversity issue is around retaining, promoting and genuinely empowering diverse talent that’s already within the organisation. – Jeanne 
  • It’s so important that sustainability is not a side job.  – Jacinda 
  • There’s wide recognition that technology is going to play an outsized role in achieving fairly ambitious net-zero carbon and other sustainability goals. – Jeanne 

Keywords: PropTech, Diversity, Sustainability, ESG, Technology  

About Our Guests: 

Jeanne Casey is the Global Head of PropTech and Innovation at Nuveen, and leads investments and insights in PropTech for the firm. Previously, Jeanne was a Principal at MetaProp, a leading PropTech venture capital firm based in New York. Prior to joining MetaProp, Jeanne was a founding team member and Vice President at Digital Alpha where she worked on the launch, fundraising, and deployment of a $300 million growth equity fund focused on digital infrastructure. She has previous experience with Cisco and Morgan Stanley, and holds a MBA from Harvard Business School and a BA with honours from Johns Hopkins University. 

As Director of Customers & Community, Jacinda Lofland works with Nuveen Real Estate’s operating partners to improve customer experience and productivity, engage with customers around ESG initiatives, promote and collaborate with community organisations and local businesses, and to measure, analyse, and act on customer feedback. Jacinda helped develop and roll out Nuveen Real Estate’s smart, sustainable building blueprint for various sectors. Prior to Nuveen Real Estate, Jacinda was a Director on the Real Estate team at Selina and prior to that, she led the Finance team at Remote Year. Jacinda has previous experience in real estate equity and debt investments with TIAA, auditing with PwC, and she holds a B.A. in Business Economics from UCLA.  

Nuveen Real Estate is one of the largest real estate investment managers in the world with $142 billion of assets under management. Managing a suite of real estate funds and mandates, across both public and private investments, and spanning both debt and equity across diverse geographies and investment styles, we provide access to every aspect of real estate investing. With over 85 years of real estate investing experience and more than 600+ employees located across over 30 cities throughout the United States, Europe and Asia Pacific, the platform offers unparalleled geographic reach, which is married with deep sector expertise.  

About Our Host 

Louisa Dickins 

Louisa started her career in property working at a well-known estate agency in London. Realising her people skills, she moved over to Lloyd May to pursue a career in recruitment. She now is a Director at LMRE, who are a specialist recruitment firm driven by PropTech and recruitment professionals, and Louisa oversees their 5 core areas. Louisa co-founded LMRE and provides a constructive recruitment platform to the new disruptors in real estate. Louisa is also on the board of Directors at UK PropTech Association (UKPA). 

About LMRE 

LMRE believe there is a better way to recruit. LMRE focus on a more comprehensive, client led focus delivering exceptional talent to the place at the time. They are passionate about the industry and passionate about people’s careers. LMRE spend time with each client to become and an extension of the business, and their transparency and core values help them grow with the sector. LMRE simplify recruitment and innovate with our clients and evolve the people driven, PropTech community. 


[01:45] Jeanne, how did you get started in this space and your role?  

  • I have been in venture capital for over 10 years. Half of that time I have focussed on PropTech and most recently at MetaProp.  
  • I started my investing career in FinTech at Morgan Stanley in the early 2010s and then I worked at a fund that spun out of Cisco. We were investing in digital infrastructure, including smart cities and IOT and that’s what led me to PropTech. 

[02:55] Jacinda, can you tell us about your journey?  

  • I started out at PwC and I worked mostly on commercial real estate clients.  
  • My first time with Tiaa was back in 2013 and I did commercial mortgage originations as well as equity investments on the West Coast. 
  • I moved to Buenos Aires, Argentina and was the first finance hire for Remote Year. I worked for Selina for about 10 months after that. 
  • After that, I came back to Nuveen where my focus is customers, community and the experience of our end users as well as engaging around ESG.  

[06:30] Jeanne, what do you think can be done to attract more diversity to this space? 

  • The crux of the issue is around retaining, promoting and genuinely empowering diverse talent that’s already within the organisation. 

[07:20] What is Nuveen doing in terms of their hiring?  

  •  Jeanne and I sit on the Insights Team which is led by Abigail Dean and that team includes our research team, sustainability, PropTech, Customers & Communication and Innovation.  

[09:40] There is a lot of women leadership at Nuveen, what do you think can be done to increase this? 

  • I think it’s beyond just attracting and recruiting diverse talent. It is about retaining, promoting and empowering the talent that already sits within an organisation 
  • Our DEI initiatives are more genuine and actually reflect what our teams look like. 

[11:45] Jacinda, you are from more of a real estate side, what have you seen in terms of diversity and inclusion?  

  • We’re making meaningful progress.  
  • There have been a lot of reports around the benefits of diversity. 
  • Implicit bias training has been a really important step for us. 
  • It’s important to hire outside of the same sets of colleges that might have strong, finance or real estate programs. 

[19:50] Is there anything more you want to delve into about what you’ve seen in the more VC (corporate side), or within the startups?  

  • I’ve seen a lot of genuine improvement over the decade. 
  • I’ve always been at the intersection of finance and technology and both of those are historically very male dominated, very white dominated and a little bit older. I think that’s largely, or at least in the process of changing quite a bit. 
  • Boardrooms and investment teams look quite a bit different than when I started just 10 years ago. 

[19:10] Talk us through the focus for 2022. 

  • Our tomorrow’s world strategy, there are three key things that we focus on; sustainability, technology and demographics.   
  • We have what we call a smart, sustainable building blueprint (SSBB) and there are a number of categories that we think really tied to those three overarching themes; energy, water, waste, resilience, health, and wealth, tenants & community, leasing and data & digitalisation. 
  • We want to build on our partnership with Fitwell. 
  • We’ll be launching a VC strategy in the coming months. 
  • The two, overarching themes are;  
    • a data strategy and tools and new technologies that help unlock our own proprietary data across our massive portfolio.  
    • the intersection of sustainability and ESG with PropTech  

[27:40] What do you think the industry could do better as a whole to move things forward in terms of adoption/integration? 

  • Incentives alignment is an area that is still fairly nebulous. 
  • Cascading goals around our own compensation targets that are specifically tied to sustainability and innovation goals.  
  • Rethinking how our buildings work, but also rethinking how we work. 

 [31:40] The ‘LMRE’ part, Louisa asks the guests to talk about: 

1.Lessons learned in your career 

  • Jeanne: Throw out for a 5- or 10-year plan. 

2.Mention a person, product or service 

  • Jacinda: Our asset management teams and then the properties that sign up and do pilots. 
  • Cushman & Wakefield and Industrious Office 

3.Rewarding parts of working in the space:  

  • Jeanne: I love real estate and PropTech because I love seeing the tangible impacts on the ways that people work, live and spend all of our time. 

4.What are you most Excited about for the future of the space?:   

  • Jacinda:  Data Standardisation and Climate Tech.  


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