A Closer Look: Amy Campero
President, CREW Iowa; Senior operations manager, Principal Financial Group
KATHY A. BOLTEN Mar 4, 2020 | 10:47 pm
6 min read time1,315 wordsBusiness Record Insider, Real Estate & Development
Amy Campero wasn’t sure what she wanted to do after graduating from the University of Northern Iowa, so she began working for Dan Deery Motors in Cedar Falls.
She was the second female to sell vehicles for the dealership, said Campero, who recently began serving as president of CREW Iowa, a group for women involved in all aspects of commercial real estate.
“I didn’t know a lot about cars, but I sure learned fast,” she said. “I joke about it now. I always tell people if they need help buying a car, that’s the one thing I can help them with.”
Customers tended to gravitate to her, Campero said. “I think I was less intimidating because I was a female.”
She worked for the dealership for two years before moving to Des Moines and accepting a job with Principal Financial Group’s residential mortgage division. She worked as a customer service representative, working her way up the ladder into management roles. After Principal sold its residential mortgage division, Campero began working for Citi Home Equity.
She was at Citi Home two years before returning to Principal Financial in July 2006 to work in the company’s commercial real estate division. Campero currently is a senior operations manager, overseeing Principal’s third-party property management companies.
Campero said it was her manager at Principal who encouraged her to join CREW.
“I spent the first year going to just a few meetings, but wasn’t able to connect very well,” she said.
Campero didn’t renew her membership.
“I got a call from another manager who said, ‘Hey, how come you haven’t renewed?’ ” Campero said. Campero replied that she wasn’t convinced the group was beneficial. The manager suggested Campero join a committee.
Campero argued that she didn’t have much time to devote to a committee because of work demands and because she and her husband had two small children. The manager suggested Campero join the communications committee, which she did.
“I got to know the two co-chairs of the committee, so when I went to a meeting, I had familiar faces I could connect with,” she said. “Then I got to know more people. I started to raise my hand for other responsibilities, and here I am today.”
We recently caught up with Campero.
Why is it important to belong to a group like crew that provides mentoring and networking?
I just think the wealth of knowledge that is there is truly amazing. We have women that have been in real estate for 20, 30, 40 years. Just being able to connect with those individuals that have been through the gamut of all different types of events, negotiation, transactions — just that whole experience level. And just being able to see how people progress from being just an employee up to a leadership role is interesting to hear about and learn from and to get advice about.
Ten years ago, were there many places for women in commercial real estate to turn to for advice?
No, I don’t believe there was. CREW was established in 2012. Before then, there were other organizations but not one that I am aware of that was focused on real estate and women. … CREW is at that individual level where you really just feel empowered from the people that you meet in our organization.
Tell us a little bit about CREW Iowa.
We have 140-plus members. Right now we’re in the middle of renewals. We’re hoping to maintain that or exceed that number; 150 would be a goal to achieve this year. Word is slowly getting out about us, so that’s been fun to take on new members from new companies around the Des Moines area.
What companies do your members represent?
They come from the bigger real estate companies like R&R [Realty Group], Hubbell [Realty Co.], Knapp [Properties]. Principal [Financial Group] has a big footprint in our group. We have several real estate attorneys that are involved, people from title companies. Architects. We have quite a mix of real estate professionals in our arena.
Are many men involved with CREW Iowa?
Yes, and we encourage their membership because we want them to be aware of our initiatives and to help us break through some of the barriers that women see in real estate and to get their viewpoints on different issues.
What are some of those barriers?
It’s just been a men’s industry for so long. That’s not something that women typically gravitated toward. The pay gap is still a big challenge for our industry, where men are still being paid more and [men] have more senior roles in real estate organizations. You’re not going to see a lot of women in those C-suite levels for real estate. That’s something that our group is hoping to even up the numbers on.
In 10 years, what will we see in the commercial real estate profession?
I’d love to see more women in the C-suite level here in Des Moines, having more opinions at those board meetings for the real estate companies and getting our opinions out there.
What are some of your goals for 2020?
We have a new logo. We’ll update our website with the new logo that helps us be more unified with CREW Network, which is our parent organization. We’ve also updated our mission and vision statements.
What is the mission statement and vision statement?
Our mission statement says that “CREW Iowa advances women to transform the commercial real estate industry.” And our vision is “We will be recognized as the premier network for commercial real estate professionals in Iowa.”
How did you come up with these statements?
Previously, we had quite lengthy mission and vision statements. Every fall we have a strategic planning session and we really took time to dig into this. As a group of board members, we got it down to a point where it was easy to recognize, and also had an impact for our members. What we want to do is get more women aware of the opportunities in commercial real estate by providing an example, especially to women coming out of college and out of high school as well.
We’ve got our ACE [Architecture, Construction, Engineering Mentor] program in place where we are actually going into the high schools and teaching young women about careers in the real estate industry. CREW Network offers 25 [$5,000] scholarships that are given out each year to college women that are interested in pursuing a career in real estate. We had two people from Iowa selected last year and two people from the year before. We’ve been really excited about being able to communicate those opportunities.
What are your goals for the rest of the year?
I’d like to beef up our programming, our event planning. We’ve had some really great topics in the past. We’ve put more money this year into bringing in some bigger-name speakers and hosting some bigger events. That’s really a big goal for me.
Also, to keep our past presidents involved. We’re growing as an organization, so we now have a group of people that have served their time on the board and are gradually dropping off. I don’t want to lose that knowledge base that we have. So keeping them involved is another key initiative for me.
What will your role be next year?
I will serve as past president on our board of directors; I will basically be a kind of an adviser. Then I’ll join the past presidents’ group that we have created for our organization.
What do you do in your free time?
I’m a [New York] Yankees fan, so our family likes to either watch them on TV or try to catch a game locally. We’ve taken the kids down to Kansas City the last few years and up to Minneapolis to see the Yankees play the [Minnesota] Twins.