Meet: Aisha Johnson

20 February 2020

Meet Aisha Johnson

Today’s spotlight is on Aisha Johnson, a 20-year industry veteran. Aisha was also recently featured in the 2019 Real Estate Journal’s edition of Women in Commercial Real Estate.

What is it like to be a woman in CRE finance?

It is all I have ever known! I sort of fell into this industry by chance after college, but I’ve chosen to stay in it because there is always something new to learn. Being in this industry has forced me to work a little harder to get to where I am. It has been a challenging climb, but I have finally landed in a place and at a company where people recognize me for my talent and abilities versus just noticing me as a female African American.

How has Focus supported your continued growth and success in this industry?

Focus puts more of an emphasis on skills and talent versus titles and hierarchy. It’s extremely refreshing. Focus has given me room for growth and has provided me with a level of support that provides me with confidence. The company recognizes my knowledge and expertise, and that helps me to feel excited and motivated when I come to work every day.

What was your inspiration for going into this line of work?

I’ve always been really good at numbers, so I decided to go into accounting. When I graduated from college, I was eager to get a job during a time when the market was pretty weak. I ended up falling into a job with a development company. At the time, I wasn’t really sure what to expect, but I was pleasantly surprised with the fast pace and exciting nature of the job. I spent nine years in real estate development and six years in construction, and in that time, I also got my CPA. I’m thrilled to be at Focus now, which is a unique combination of both real estate development and construction, which is something you don’t see very often.

What does it take to make it in this industry?

You definitely need thick skin. It’s a tough but exciting industry, and you have to know your stuff. There are also so many people out there in this industry, so when the real estate market turns, it can get super competitive with trying to find work. Make sure you’re always on your game and that you can easily prioritize. And if possible, try and find something that really sets you apart. For me, it was getting my CPA to ensure that I was a valuable member of the talent pool.

What is your best success story with Focus?

While it’s not necessarily a success story, I have to say that one of my best experiences at Focus has to do with the president, Tim Anderson. At other companies I have worked for, leadership feels untouchable and out of reach. This isn’t the case with Tim. When there was an issue that came up at work, Tim personally asked to take me out for lunch. He spoke with me about everything, asking me questions and doing everything he could to make sure I felt comfortable. It was invaluable one-on-one time with him that really made me feel like a part of a team. His dedication to his employees and commitment to work-life balance is one-of-a-kind, and I am truly appreciative.

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