As the Business Development Manager of DCI Engineers, Janki DePalma is responsible for helping to build and maintain business relationships. Janki has been instrumental in the incredible growth of DCI’s Austin office with projects such as The Thinkery and The Independent. She is a connector at heart and is active in professional organizations such as the Real Estate Council of Austin, the Urban Land Institute and the Society for Marketing Professional Services. Additionally, she is co-founder of a local women’s networking group, She Suite. Janki is a native San Franciscan and though she misses The Giants, fog, and a good public transportation system, she is proud to call Austin her home.
Why did you agree to lead a ULI Next flight and what do Next participants gain by being involved? I jumped at the opportunity to lead ULI Next as a way to challenge myself to take on more leadership roles; basically to “Lean In” if you will. Each Next flight is unique but I think a common thread is that we take a deeper dive exploring local topics and the various leadership challenges we all face at this point in our careers. My group (Next South) also is looking to create a brain trust, where we can share best practices and support each other.
What is your biggest leadership challenge in today’s market? For me, hands down it’s building/keeping/strengthening my team. This market is so hot and I’m trying my best to create a sense of culture and community while keeping our office busy (but not too busy) and watching the bottom line. Our younger staff are motivated by so many things other than compensation, so we try to create a work environment that is engaging and has growth opportunities.
What has been your most meaningful ULI experience? I must say it’s a tie between the personal/professional connections I’ve made and the leadership opportunities. I’m also a nerd at heart, so I enjoy learning more about other aspects of the industry.
You are also on the WLI Committee, what impact is the WLI having and how do you find the time to be involved in ULI? I’ll answer the second half first. For several years, I was a breakfast-only member and I wasn’t even a good one at that. The more active you get, the more you want to make time for ULI. I’m a slave to my Outlook calendar- so as long as it’s on there, I’m going. When WLI formed, I knew I had to join. For me, the impact is two-fold. One, I’m surrounded by other women who are excelling in their careers, and that’s always inspirational. Secondly, our sold-out WLI lunches have featured many amazing women in our industry and that’s changing the face of who is seen as “the expert”. It’s a subtle thing, but one that has a big impact.