Candidate Spotlight

CCIM Candidate Spotlight: Rosanna Souza

Rosanna Souza
Rosanna Souza

The San Francisco market has attracted plenty of attention - and billions of dollars - in the past few decades. While outside investors and developers flock to the Bay Area, Rosanna Souza has been able to leverage her understanding of Northern California as a lifelong resident. 

Commercial Investment Real Estate spoke with Souza about her journey from banking to a successful “commercia-dential” real estate career in one of the most competitive markets in the world - all while pursuing her CCIM Designation with the goal of securing the pin in 2021.

CIRE: What experiences, professionally and personally, led you to seek CCIM Designation?

Rosanna Souza: I spent 21 years with a local financial institution, but the daily duties began to take too much time away from my 7-year-old son and husband. I knew something had to change, so in 2004, in a split second, I took a huge leap of faith and resigned from my job. As I contemplated what would be next, a dear friend who was a seasoned real estate agent suggested becoming a real estate agent at Tipp Realty. On my first day, in 2005, I received a listing appointment and the rest is history. The real estate business seemed to come naturally to me with my previous training, and I loved the flexibility. Glimpses of commercial real estate presented themselves during the Great Recession in closing a few multifamily transactions for buyers and sellers.

As I closed more transactions, I gained more expertise in the commercial arena, but I wanted more formal education. In 2016, I met Davide Pio, CCIM, a former president for the Northern California CCIM Chapter. The CCIM Designation was listed on his business card and the lightbulb went on! I immediately enrolled for the CI 101 class in San Francisco. Bill Mohr, CCIM, was my instructor and after the first day of class, I realized the CCIM Designation training was an important investment for my future.

CIRE: Have you been able to put your education to use? How has the Designation curriculum impacted your professional abilities?

Souza: The CCIM education worked side by side with the on-the-job training, but it also offered a higher level of effective communication along with the proper analysis of an investment property. The confidence to meet with potential buyers and sellers with the ability to properly analyze their needs and understand the commercial ins and outs is crucial in this industry. Instead of referring commercial business, I used my CCIM education to complement my residential sales experience with clients who would ask for assistance in phasing into the commercial sector.

CIRE: You are active in your church and community. How does your volunteer work fit into your life?

Souza: Coming from humble beginnings, I keep volunteerism close to my heart. I am passionate about giving back because so many others gave their time and believed in me along my path. Our Northern California CCIM Chapter encouraged me to be part of the CCIM community as director at large in 2017. As a native San Franciscan, I also find ways to volunteer on a regular basis. When you extend a hand to someone in need, your eyes open to different human situations in this world. These priceless life lessons allow empathy to unfold further with each encounter.

CIRE: What support structures have helped you during this process? Have you received help from colleagues and mentor figures?

Souza: Our most recent past chapter presidents, Steve Peterson, CCIM, and Aziz Khatri, CCIM, have freely shared their expertise in the commercial real estate industry. Helen Chong, CCIM, our current chapter president, continues to inspire me with her drive to achieve her professional goals, founding the Haylen Group, while balancing her family life at the same time. My mentors David Tipp, CCIM, and Brian McPherson, CCIM, from our Tipp Realty Family continue to promote the CCIM Designation.

The confidence to meet with potential buyers and sellers with the ability to properly analyze their needs and understand the commercial ins and outs is crucial in this industry.

CIRE: What obstacles have you faced in your journey toward CCIM Designation?

Souza: Blocking time for the classes has been the greatest challenge. I felt the live classes were a better fit for me, although this required a full week of regular business being placed on hold to focus on the course. It's critical to limit distraction to understand the material.

CIRE: What does it mean to you to be able to work in the community that you've called home for so long?

Souza: Living and working in Vallejo since 1989 has given me the ability to speak first-hand about what is happening in the local area and its history. Sharing this information with my clients is important so they can make the best decisions for their future. The feeling of bringing new businesses or citizens to your city is another great joy while practicing something you love. Driving through my community, I am grateful to facilitate their dreams of starting a new business or investing in the place I call home.

CIRE: Where are you currently in your progression toward the exam and do you have a target date?

Souza: Currently, the greatest hurdle for my Designation has been the COVID-19 situation. Everything is ready, including the approval of my portfolio, but I have rescheduled the exam for next year. Look out, New Orleans, here I come in April 2021!

For more on the CCIM Designation process and curriculum, visit Earning the CCIM Designation.

Nicholas Leider

Nicholas Leider is senior content editor for Commercial Investment Real Estate. Contact him at

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