Lisa Davidson is the Executive Vice President, Board of Directors member & Chief Diversity Officer at Savills Studley. She’s been excelling in the Chicago real estate market for 30 years. In that time she’s had plenty of experience with the old boys’ network that is still very much alive and well. It was true kismet when the WTF moniker caught her eye one day as she read the Chicago Tribune. With her youngest recently away to college she was exploring ideas for where she wanted to put her extra time and with her tech firm clients having a huge impact on the Chicago real estate market, it felt like a great fit on several levels. And she loved the name!

Lisa felt some initial intimidation when she attended the first consult meeting with a room of opinionated founders and funders.  She wasn’t in tech, a founder or a funder and decided to just listen. It didn’t take long to figure out that they were all just figuring it out, even as confident as they were. She gradually realized she had something valuable to bring to the table with her corporate knowledge and how that could help them. She shared why sponsors will get involved, what is important to them and how to build an organization that attracts them.  The reality is that the members of WTF aren’t in a place to be able to sponsor WTF, so they needed to bring that corporate community into the mix. 

WTF continually brings individuals into new and different circles of people, putting them outside of their typical daily interactions and helping to rejuvenate creative energies and innovative thinking. Lisa loves that the WTF community is ever-growing. There are always new people that are excited to participate and are so dedicated.

Lisa finds that the support is everything. It provides that energy and feeling of empowerment, and, without it, one can be lonely and bored.  She’s watched in admiration as bold women walk up to a group, introduce themselves, hand out cards and receive a warm, helpful response.  It is so encouraging to know that that supportiveness is there.

She hopes to get more involved with investing in start-up companies and continuing to learn more, working to be of the most value. This experience will also benefit her role with her diversity initiative at Savills Studley. Ultimately she wants diverse teams in every city so they don’t even have to talk about the importance of diversity, it will be immediately apparent by a look around the room.  

Lisa’s years of success have given her wisdom to share. She’s found that, generally, because they feel there is less room for them in the industry, that women don’t support each other and are more competitive. Women should embrace the affinity group of women and look to each other for help and support.  Remove the competitiveness, embrace collaboration. And let go of perfection. Just because you aren’t the best doesn’t mean you can’t pursue something and maybe, one day, be the best.  If you really like something, don’t feel like you have to be perfect at it or the perfect candidate to pursue it.


Terri Brax is the Creator and Co-Force behind Women Tech Founders and TeacherCare. Her passion is advancing those around her.