AN INTERVIEW WITH AMY HANSON
Tell us about CLA and your current role with the company
I work in the construction and real estate industry with CLA, a national professional services firm that delivers integrated outsourcing, tax, audit, wealth advisory, and consulting services from more than 110 locations across the United States.
Based in the Minneapolis office, I work primarily with investors and property owners to provide property accounting services, complex CAM reconciliations, and financial modeling for development projects. Along with providing outsourced accounting, CLA helps businesses fill gaps in their existing staff and provides industry specialized knowledge in areas such as real estate, construction, manufacturing and even breweries.
What makes CLA different than other companies in the industry?
First, it is the culture. The real estate industry can be very competitive. Our group is extremely collaborative because we follow a shared goal: to know and help our clients. Secondly, with CLA you’ll find everything you need in one firm. We offer deep technical knowledge through every step of the real estate life cycle. We assist real estate entities with calculating gross potential rent, request for repair and CapEx draws, fund administration, tax strategies, and succession planning, to name a few.
Finally, CLA is a career-building firm. For this reason, we are able to attract top talent for our clients. I am a coach and mentor to several of the younger team members and I enjoy assisting them on their journeys. Having grown up with technology, the younger team members have so much knowledge. Harnessing that knowledge, the experience of a senior team member, and software tools like Yardi, RealPage and Appfolio is very powerful for our clients.
What role did you fulfill before joining the company?
Prior to joining CLA, I served as a contract CFO and real estate consultant to a number of developers in the Minneapolis and surrounding areas. My role included financial modeling, tax credit and institutional financing, coordinating capital raises, investor relations, and working with property management teams to drive asset performance. I have flipped nearly 850 homes in my career and penned several winning RFP’s for work with municipalities and non-profits.
Have you received any degrees or designations?
I am a CCIM and licensed broker. I also hold a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting and an MBA from Western Governors University.
That’s great. Have you received any honors or awards?
In 2015, I received the Top Women in Finance award from the Minneapolis Business Journal. I also received a Bravo! Award for my work on an historic theater utilizing historic tax credits.
Are you active with any nonprofits or charities?
I’m enthusiastic about the real estate and construction industry and I enjoy sharing my passion through American Corporate Partners, a nonprofit dedicated to mentoring veterans transitioning from the military to the workforce. Through this program, I guide individuals looking to create careers in the real and construction industries by providing one-on-one meetings, career planning sessions, and interview strategies.
Do you have any advice to someone starting out in the industry?
Find the right mentor. He or she can help you make the connections to further your career and show you the tips and tricks that you don’t learn in college. I was fortunate to have a great mentor in Diane Peterson who was the COO at one of my clients. It can be challenging to find a mentor in the real estate industry, because no one wants to give up his or her secrets. Diane was just the opposite; she wanted to see people succeed and do well. That collaborative culture is how we operate at CLA, and one of the reasons I enjoy my work so much.
What has been your key to success?
First, you have to be in the game. If you don’t have the passion or the desire to make your project happen, it won’t. Second, you need the right people on the bus. Most organizations don’t have the need for full-time staff in every role, which is why outsourced third party consultants like CLA make sense. Finally, you need to know your metrics. Every company has a sweet spot. Make sure you know and monitor the numbers that drive your business and continually focus on how you can improve them.
Have any books influenced or motivated you?
I enjoy all of Gary Keller’s books on real estate, but if I had to choose one book, it would be Carolyn 101: Business Lessons from The Apprentice’s Straight Shooter. I have this title in hardcover, Kindle and audio. It was challenging even a few years back to break into real estate as a woman;, you just weren’t part of the club. That is changing and I do think that Carolyn had a big hand in that. She talks about the difficult situations she’s encountered in her career and how she handled them. This book came out in 2004 and I still use it as a reference manual today. It is a great read for women in real estate — or any business for that matter.
Away from your career and community work what are your favorite pastimes?
I love to travel, play golf, flip houses, and spend time with friends and family. My son, Jake, just graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Stout with a degree in construction management, and has accepted a position with Reuter Walton in Minneapolis. My daughter, Haley, is a nursing student at St. Catherine’s University.