Three CCIMs Honored as 2016 Women of Influence

Posted on Sept. 1, 2016

Real Estate Forum magazine selects three CCIM Designees as high-level influencers.

CCIM Institute congratulates Sandy Benak, CCIM, Debbie Hester, CCIM, and Suman Gera, CCIM, on their selection as three of 50 Women of Influence by ALM Media's Real Estate Forum magazine. They were selected from a pool of more than 300 high-caliber nominees.

“Congratulations to Sandy, Debbie, and Suman for receiving this well-deserved recognition,” says 2016 CCIM President Steve Moreira, CCIM. “CCIM Women are not only the most capable professionals in the industry, but are the movers and shakers making a difference in commercial real estate.”

For Benak, this is the second consecutive year she has been selected for this honor. During her more than 30-year tenure, she has been a powerhouse in the commercial real estate industry who is able to successfully balance an ever-evolving career with boundless energy for volunteer work. She currently serves as a leasing manager for Granite Properties, Inc., in Houston and has taken on the new role of corporate marketing manager this past year.  

Benak is also passionate about volunteering at local charities and mentoring young professionals, which she has done throughout her career. She is an active member of CREW Houston, mentoring students for more than 14 years, and serves as a member of the executive board for the University of Houston Bauer Graduate School of Real Estate. For many years, she and her husband have also supported disabled American veterans, orphaned children through Hearts for Ghana, and the Houston SPCA. 

“Most women I know in commercial real estate usually put their heads down and simply work toward their goals,” Benak says.  “I don't think anyone really thinks about getting recognized for their accomplishments, so it is quite an honor.”

As a 25-year veteran of the profession, Hester serves as vice president of asset management for VEREIT Inc., in Winter Park, Fla., and specializes in restaurant real estate. She personally trains many of the junior associates and first-year professionals and finds it rewarding as they develop their skills and knowledge for more senior roles. With a hands-on leadership style, Hester is known for her superior execution of business strategies and resolution of high impact workouts. 

“It is an honor to be thought of as a peer with so many accomplished women executives,” Hester says.  “I am amazed at the diversity in skill sets and backgrounds recognized in this years' honorees.”

Formerly heading up asset management for TIAA Global Asset Management in Charlotte, N.C., Gera has transitioned into overseeing the entire $60-billion U.S. portfolio. She spearheaded the advancement of Asia-Pacific investments and entry into the Australian market during the last three years. Recognized for her knowledge of international markets and organizational skills, Gera has a talent for successfully managing large and complex assignments from start to finish. 

Profiles and photos of Benak, Hester, and Suman are currently featured in the August Real Estate Forum's 23rd Annual Women of Influence issue. 

Samuel S. Moon | Media Relations Manager | (312) 321-8554