Property Manager breaks down barriers to succeed
Mai Vang exemplifies strength to inspire others
Mai Vang has two initiatives close to her heart: empowering women and encouraging diversity in the workplace. Born in Thailand, Mai always wanted to work for a company that valued different perspectives and had policies that empower people to bring their whole self to work.
"I am grateful for the opportunities I've had with JLL to pave my own path and find my footing in corporate America," said Mai. "When I tell Hmong women I work for one of the largest real estate companies in the world, they are impressed there is a Hmong woman in a management role. I want others like me to know we have many career choices beyond being a doctor, lawyer, or teacher."
Mai’s preference for an employer with authentic diversity initiatives stems from her childhood. A member of the Hmong community, she was born in Thailand to parents who escaped persecution in Laos. Her culture has been historically patriarchal, but Mai’s family adored her. They had lost many children during the war and during their time spent in a refugee camp – Mai was the oldest surviving child.
Mai's family immigrated to the United States when she was five. She learned English quickly and had an aptitude for the language. Her parents relied on her to help communicate and navigate their new home.
As Mai grew up, she dreamed of going to college and working in corporate America. Working in a bustling downtown seemed glamorous and Mai aspired to work there one day. Although Mai was culturally married young and became a mother to a daughter at age 15, she never gave up her dream of going to college and growing professionally. At 18, she decided to improve her life and her daughter's life by pursuing her college degree. After achieving this goal, she stepped into the commercial real estate industry in 2003 as a temp and was soon hired as a full-time employee. She enjoyed the different aspects of the work, especially how the property manager role required a range of networking, financial, and business skills.
Her commercial real estate career paused while Mai pursued an MBA at the University of Florida. After successfully earning the degree, she returned to Minnesota and started searching for a career. She discovered a position at JLL through a LinkedIn post. She didn't know much about the company at the time, but as Mai read about JLL as a top company for women and working mothers in the workplace, she was encouraged to apply. "I've always been a working mom," Mai said. "It was important to me to work with a company that understands what working moms go through."
Mai Vang and her daughter
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That was four years ago. Today, Mai is a General Manager with JLL in Minneapolis, and oversees tenant relationships in a prestigious building with several notable brands.
She says JLL has continuously supported her career growth by giving her assignments to challenge and nurture her professional aspirations. Mai has appreciated the company's efforts to accommodate needs through challenging times. A property manager is often needed to be on-site, but JLL provided flexibility for her to be with her family during the pandemic.
Mai also appreciatesthe diversity and inclusion initiatives at JLL. She has served on two Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committees, helping with education and awareness in Minneapolis and is a board member is a board member and mentor for Hnub Tshiab: Hmong Women Achieving Together, which seeks to empower and create more Hmong women leaders She’s grateful to her team for supporting her and hopes she can inspire other women at JLL and beyond.
"JLL really understands the DEI piece and that we need more people in business that look like the people we represent and engage with every day," Mai said. "Knowing that DEI is important to JLL and my team makes me more willing to bring my authentic self to work."