During Women’s History Month, ZGF is spotlighting outstanding female clients who inspire us to challenge ourselves and raise the bar for design excellence. This week, we feature Sharon Coleman of Vulcan Real Estate.
In elementary school, Sharon aspired to be a nun. That may come as a surprise to those following her career at Vulcan, one of the Pacific Northwest’s most prominent developers of commercial and biotech projects.
Sharon’s journey would lead her to a different calling: initially to architecture, and eventually to Vulcan Real Estate as one of its first employees. As the senior director for real estate development, Sharon is among the visionaries behind the transformation of downtown Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood into of an innovation hub.
She spoke to us recently about her journey.
What was your dream job as a kid and why? Does it relate to what you do today?
Growing up I wanted to be a nun. The book jackets for each of my text books at St. Francis Elementary School said, “Jesus is calling you to be a priest or a nun.” Reading that 20 times a day starts to sink in. But then—this is so cliché—I read the Fountainhead, and then my dream was to be an architect.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
I have one of the best jobs in Seattle. I get to help change the landscape of this incredible city, with the help of an amazing, knowledgeable and collaborative team at Vulcan, while working alongside the best of the best architects, consultants and contractors. Considering what SLU was like 16 years ago, I’m very proud of what we’ve accomplished.
What’s the best leadership lesson you’ve learned in your career?
Get the brightest people to work with, give them lots of rope, and let them grow into leaders.
Who is your role model and why?
Wow, that’s a hard one. When I was very young, I have to say that I adored Katherine Hepburn—independent, opinionated … gorgeous. But there have been so many women (and men) along the way who have influenced me, it’s hard to pick one.
What advice do you have for the next generation of women in your industry?
Believe in yourself. Listen to all sides, get all of the facts. And don’t be afraid to make decisions.