The Female Leaders Who Power SERHANT. Brokerage

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Agents who are even slightly plugged into the industry will know Josh Team from his tenure as a celebrated leader at Keller Williams, and Million Dollar Listing’s Ryan Serhant from his numerous reality TV gigs — not to mention his global online sales program “Sell it Like Serhant” and eponymous luxury brokerage.

But how well do you know the fleet of capable women helping to power the success of SERHANT.?

As we celebrate Women’s History Month, Inman seeks to shine a light on real estate’s underserved majority: Women.

Natalie Vitebsky, Jennifer Alese, Renee Fitzgerald and Kristen Kipilla are some of SERHANT.’s core female leaders who help comprise a leadership team that is 55 percent women. Across finance, new development, strategic operations, and design and marketing, these women help keep the company on track.

If you haven’t looked past Ryan Serhant’s star status to the firm at large, take a moment to meet the women helping to power a rapidly growing brokerage.

Natalie Vitebsky | SERHANT. Studios

Natalie Vitebsky

Chief Financial Officer

Natalie Vitebsky is a seasoned finance officer, having spent nearly two decades in such roles in the real estate industry, much of it in management positions at Douglas Elliman and Compass. Before entering the realm of real estate, Vitebsky was at the helm of financial planning and analysis at Avis Budget Group and Cendant, a global provider of real estate and travel services.

The strides women have made in the industry since her career began have been huge, Vitebsky said. She feels that an emphasis on placing more women in leadership roles, as well as increased opportunities for remote work, have helped provide women with more opportunities.

“Having been in an era where [workplace management] was predominantly male, to now shifting where it’s at least half and half, I can tell you that it’s more collaborative,” Vitebsky said. “I think that male environments tend to be more competitive, just by nature. With more women, I think it’s a lot more collaborative and less competitive. So I think that creates a nicer culture.”

When her career began in the ’90s, Vitebsky said she regularly faced discrimination in hiring because most potential employers assumed that she would get pregnant and then leave the workforce, leaving them high and dry.

“When I interviewed for new jobs, I was told sometimes, ‘Well, you’ll just have a baby and then you won’t come back,’ even though they weren’t supposed to say that — but they did,” Vitebsky said. “It was hard to work against those predisposed feelings and stereotypes.”

Although she is afforded more opportunities now than she was in those days, Vitebsky said she still feels like she has to work much harder than her male counterparts to receive the same recognition and promotions.

“I always have had to work much harder to achieve what men achieved by working a lot less,” she told Inman. “That’s just been a fact of life for me. I still work hard — I probably work seven days a week now. I’m not sure that sets a great example for women, but I hope that women coming into this industry, or any other industry, can see the rewards and growth [opportunities].”

Jennifer Alese | SERHANT. Studios

Jennifer Alese

Director of New Development

Jennifer Alese thought she was going to work in title insurance for her whole career. But after she met Serhant through happenstance nearly a decade ago, she became enticed by the world of real estate. She joined Serhant’s team, which was at Nest Seekers International at the time, starting off with rentals and learning the ropes from there.

When she got her first taste of new development, Alese was hooked. “I just fell in love with dealing with developers, being that point person, coming up with creative marketing ideas,” she told Inman. “It’s very different than a resale — you learn a different way of selling the same type of unit to different people, seeing how they react to what you say and changing your script.”

New York City’s new development has traditionally been a heavily male sector, and there have certainly been times when Alese has felt that she needs to prove herself to the room.

“The most challenges I’ve faced have been in meetings with a table full of men and having to admit that I’m the only woman in the room and have to speak up and prove my point,” Alese said. “I think that was something I had to learn how to do fairly quickly and not feel like they’re going to think I’m less than them or they’re not going to respect me. It’s really a mindset shift.”

Today, Alese is the go-to point person for new development at SERHANT. and has managed more than $10 billion in new development condo inventory across Manhattan, Brooklyn and Long Island City. She said that she hopes her example can help empower more women to become interested in new development, too.

“I think it’s really important for more women to get into new development, even on the development side, because I think sales and marketing versus the sponsorship/developer side are still kind of two different worlds,” Alese said. “While I’ve worked with developers who are women, it has been a really great experience to see a powerful woman at the head of the table, leading the room as a main developer, and I don’t think that’s as common as it could be.

“Even the way we operate as a sales and marketing team, always propelling women to move forward and be in these leadership positions is important. So I hope that leaders across New York and the world continue to do that.”

Kristen Kipilla | SERHANT. Studios

Kristen Kipilla

Director of Creative and Marketing

Like Alese, Kristen Kipilla first connected with Serhant in 2015 when he had The Serhant Team at Nest Seekers International. Kipilla graduated from graphic designer to design manager to creative and marketing director for the team in less than five years, while also working on marketing campaigns for Serhant’s online sales course, “Sell it Like Serhant,” as well as consulting for some of the course’s top members.

Today, Kipilla leads SERHANT. ID Lab, the firm’s creative agency, to create brand identities for new developments, properties and agents, while also working with SERHANT. Studios to create video content.

She said working in such a collaborative, empowering environment has been thrilling.

“[Ryan] really empowers people to make decisions even on our own while being collaborative — he trusts in our expertise,” Kipilla said. “He was basically my mentor in marketing, and that got me to this point. So I think he trusts I’m an extension of his creative and marketing expertise.”

Because she regularly works around so many women at SERHANT., Kipilla said that being a female marketing leader at one of the country’s up-and-coming firms doesn’t necessarily seem like a unique position. But because of the stigma traditionally associated with women’s emotions in the workplace, she does sometimes find herself subconsciously trying to squash her feelings in professional environments.

“Sometimes, I try to appear less emotional or [avoid reactions] that men might judge,” Kipilla said. “So day-to-day, I’m just trying to be very pragmatic, logical and withhold emotion when possible … It’s just something that I think is ingrained.”

Renee Fitzgerald | SERHANT. Studios

Renee Fitzgerald

Director of Operations

As Director of Operations, Renee Fitzgerald is in charge of growing and scaling the firm as SERHANT. expands across different markets.

Working with a majority group of women isn’t something that Fitzgerald typically dwells on, but she said that the women leaders in the firm do have a special connection and similar approaches to collaboration that allow them to thrive together.

“I think we call on each other and really celebrate each other’s wins,” Fitzgerald said. “That gives us the courage to keep going and share that knowledge with others.”

In general, Fitzgerald said she feels that having diverse views represented in leadership is incredibly important.

“Everybody walks a life experience, and that informs how you show up every day,” Fitzgerald said. “The more diversity you have in those experiences, the better you can meet your clients and employees. So [we make sure] that we’re drawing on all that and taking the best wisdom, because no one idea is the best one.”

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