Mention the Stacom family name to any commercial real estate professional in New York, and you’re likely to hear stories about power and prestige. It is among the most revered names in the business—and it has wielded significant influence in commercial real estate for well over 60 years.
That legacy is in the hands of sisters Tara Stacom’80 and Darcy Stacom’81, who have climbed to the top of their profession, succeeding in a male-dominated industry by managing billions of dollars in commercial real-estate transactions in New York City, perhaps the most competitive of markets.
They are also graduates of Lehigh’s College of Business and Economics (CBE), just like family patriarch Matthew Stacom’41, three of their siblings, and Darcy’s husband, Chris Kraus’81, managing director of the global commercial real-estate firm Jones Lang LaSalle.
On March 16, the Stacom sisters were keynote speakers at the Murray H. Goodman Center for Real Estate Studies and its Stacom Family ire@l Speaker Series.
“A wonderfully independent career”
Tara Stacom, vice chairman at Cushman and Wakefield Global Real-Estate Solutions, represents an array of Fortune 500 companies and office-building landlords. She recently secured the leasing agency for One World Trade Center—the most celebrated office building under construction in New York.
Darcy Stacom, vice chairman at global real-estate firm CB Richard Ellis (CBRE), was crowned the “Queen of Skyscrapers” by The Wall Street Journal in 1997. Darcy has completed over $45 billion in sales, financing, joint venture, leasehold and development transactions. She brokered the $3-billion sale of the GM Building and the $5.4-billion sale of Peter Cooper Village/Stuyvesant Town.
“We were born with a name that is highly recognizable,” said Tara, “and we used it to catapult our careers.” But hard work, long hours and passion, she added, were the keys to the sisters’ success. Darcy and Tara earned their real-estate sales licenses at 15 and 16 and took every assignment they could to learn about real estate. They graduated from Lehigh when the CBE had a male-to-female ratio of 20:1.
“Whenever women say they’re in real estate, people assume they’re in residential real estate,” Tara said. “The truth is that you are your own firm with your own set of corporate resources. It’s a wonderfully independent career.”
Mentoring the next generation
Success generates a following, and Tara and Darcy are regularly contacted by young people looking to get into the business. Darcy told the story of Marcella Grigg, a new Lehigh graduate who approached her in 2003. Impressed by Grigg’s energy, work ethic and passion, Darcy hired her and guided her for several years through assignments with increasing responsibility.
Today, Griggs is a vice president and top-producing broker with CBRE.
Tara and Darcy surprised the hundreds of students in the audience when they announced they would give a summer internship to the student who asked the most thought-provoking question.
Internships, said Tara, “show how the industry works from the inside and require students to see professional opportunities where their counterparts don’t.”
“No job is beneath you if it puts you next to the right person,” said Darcy. “Jobs like these teach you to multitask, to be humble, and to appreciate and respect others on your team.”
“Incredible recognition for ire@l”
Against that backdrop Tara and other commercial real-estate alumni helped develop the ire@l (Integrated Real Estate at Lehigh) program.
“ire@l has created a lot of buzz in New York,” said Tara, who chairs the program’s executive committee and is also a Lehigh University trustee, “because it provides students with skills and experiences that they can’t get anywhere else and that the real-estate community recognizes as crucial to career success.”
“ire@l is open to students across the university, whether they are in engineering, architecture or marketing. That’s ‘real world’ in what we do. There’s always an engineer at the table, always someone from marketing at the table with us.”
At the heart of the program is financial analysis using ARGUS, the commercial real-estate industry’s most respected software.
“A thorough understanding of ARGUS is essential if you want to succeed in our business,” said Darcy. “It’s one reason why the ire@l program has achieved incredible recognition in our industry. It’s one killer-guarantee job move you can make.”