Technology leader discovers her niche
Nashunda Williams says culture of inclusivity and innovation has been
key to success
JLL’s Nashunda Williams is a leader in the commercial real estate technology space and a champion for diversity and inclusion. As a freshman at Howard University, she found her niche through some sage advice from her dad. “I wanted to major in communications, but my dad said, ‘Trust me, you want to major in Information Systems, you can use communication skills in the technology field.”
With her major in Business and minor in Information Systems, Nashunda landed a rare internship during her sophomore year at Allstate Insurance. “Even though I scored high on the technology aptitude test, Allstate only accepted juniors and seniors as interns,” she shared. “I was able to leverage my communication skills to call several leaders at Allstate and with the help of my mentor, Patricia Wallace, an exception was made. Sometimes in life, you are given more simply because you ask when everyone else remains silent.”
After completing her degree in Washington D.C., Nashunda moved to Illinois to work full-time for Allstate as a Network Analyst, and within a few years, she was promoted to a manager role. After six years at Allstate, she started working as a Business Solutions Manager at CRS Group before beginning her career at JLL as a Technology Account Manager.
Today, six years later, Nashunda supports our Industrial Markets team as an IT Business Partner with JLL Technologies. She’s also an avid supporter and advocate for diversity and inclusion initiatives at the firm and previously served as the Black Professionals Network National Lead for two years.
We sat down with Nashunda to learn about her career path, passion for diversity and inclusion, and excitement around the commercial real estate technology space.
What is your role at JLL?
I work as a technology partner for the Industrial Markets business. In my role, I bring awareness on how to utilize JLL technology, create strategic roadmaps, and explore future industrial technology that will help take the business to new heights.
What do you enjoy most about working at JLL?
I enjoy the flexible work culture and JLL Technologies’ innovative atmosphere. I have seen several employee ideas (including my own) become our reality while at JLL; it’s exciting to see creativity encouraged.
How did you end up in commercial real estate?
I desired to have a role where I could be the bridge between the business and technology, leveraging my passion for communication and my knowledge of technology. I saw a role on LinkedIn that was the perfect fit, and I reached out to a former colleague at JLL to learn more. I had no commercial real estate experience prior to joining JLL, however, my diverse background allowed me to have a unique perspective that is appreciated.
How do you carry out the mission of leadership, diversity and technology at JLL?
It begins with working for a company that aligns with your values. Soon after I began at JLL, I got accepted into an external leadership program, which required me to be out of the office for an extended period – My managers, Kim Frickhoeffer and Christophe Credico graciously approved this opportunity. They valued leadership development and prioritized my long-term success. When I wanted to serve as the lead of the Black Professionals Network at JLL, my manager at the time, John Wagner, gave me his full support, because John values diversity along with JLL.
What advice do you have for up and coming professionals in your industry?
Focus on soft skills. Technical knowledge is needed, but can you work with a team on a product deliverable? Can you communicate a technological design to a non-technical business leader? As long as you have a desire to learn, soft skills can be taught. I went from shaking in front of an audience, to one of the top speakers in the state of Illinois through Toastmasters. If there is a volunteer opportunity to lead, take it. Leadership is one of the only opportunities in your life where you have a mirror reflecting on you – take advantage of that gift. Make time to learn critical skills for leading and inspiring people. The combination of technical understanding and communication/leadership will set you apart.
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What do JLL’s Business Resource Groups mean to you?
Community and impact. The JLL Business Resource Groups (BRGs) have driven insurance policy change, paternity leave, HR policy. They play a critical role in helping to push forward inclusion and diversity strategies. BRGs are a channel for collaboration, and I am honored to have served in a lead role for the Black Professionals Network.
Do you have a message about developing racial inclusivity at work?
It always begins with leadership commitment. That commitment should be fueled by a strategic plan, with targets, milestones, deliverables, and most importantly, accountability. Finally, authentic leadership thrives on the willingness to learn from those around you, regardless of role, title, or background.
What’s your favorite thing to do outside of work?
Relax and meditate; life moves at an incredible pace. You might find it hard to believe, but I am working to create moments of boredom. I desire to sit and do absolutely nothing, giving my brain a rest. I dabble in a myriad of creative projects. One week, I am exploring photography, the next week, I'm writing a poem or article. I love learning, and my creative projects keep me in a constant growth state. Finally, I enjoy putting on dance music and showing my husband and three kids that I could have been on the show “Dancing with the Stars.”
What excites you most about working with JLL Technologies (JLLT)?
The culture. It’s a healthy mix of innovation, transformation, and growth, sprinkled with a culture of diversity and inclusion. But what makes JLLT unique is the people – we are all committed to excellence and working toward being an organization that will continue to revolutionize the Commercial Real Estate Industry.