Google Real Estate Project Executive Kristin Chiles Discusses Honing Your Transferable Skills

Kristin Chiles is a Real Estate Executive at Google where she handles real estate strategy and workplace design and delivery for over 1M SF in MI and TX. In her current role, she oversees site strategy, design and delivery of workspace, and collaboration and amenity spaces for Google.

Here is what Kristin had to say when asked about navigating a career as a creative professional: 

GenHERation®: How did you navigate your career transition from being an interior designer to a real estate executive? 

Kristin Chiles: I practiced commercial design for years and I realized there were other designers that were more invested in the work than I was. I liked the work that I was doing, but I didn’t love it. At around the same time, I had this epiphany. A woman reached out to me for a project management role, and I accepted it. I found that I enjoyed being a conductor of things. I loved organizing the crazy, pulling teams together, and delivering for clients. I also enjoyed that I did not have to design, but I could work with design teams, contractors, and a variety of engineers to deliver space. Google, at one point, became a client of mine, and that partnership led me to my current role. 

GenHERation®: What are three skills you developed as a designer that are applicable to your work in tech? 

Chiles: I would say the three skills are initiative, empathy, and communication. As a designer, I worked with different groups of people and stakeholders, and primarily performed creative work. Today, I do more technical work and focus on details and management. In both design and tech, you have to communicate with different types of people, reach an understanding, and deliver on objectives.

GenHERation®: As a creative professional, how can you find mentors to support your goals? 

Chiles: Joining professional organizations is key. By doing so, you gain access to different people, skills, and markets, and you learn more about your passions. I have been a member of  a variety of organizations, including CREW (Commercial Real Estate Women) Network. I had an incredible experience with this organization at a point in my career when I learned how to build my confidence and speak in front of crowds. Even when you’re a student, you can get involved in professional networks, allowing you to make connections and explore different career paths. 

GenHERation®: What are the most important qualities you look for when hiring young professionals to join your team? 

Chiles: Be confident, even if you have to fake it. Come in with that strength. Know that you are excellent and you deserve it. I also appreciate a level of curiosity and a willingness to learn. Those two things combined go a long way. To an employer, if there is confidence and a willingness to learn, it might not matter that you do not have a particular skill.

GenHERation®: As a leader who has many responsibilities, how do you prioritize work-life balance and productivity?

Chiles: I hit a wall in November, and I took a short leave to work on myself. I was in a position where I was really overtaxed. We have to learn how to protect our own boundaries. For example, I now have a “No Meeting Monday.” I schedule designated focus time. I have veered away from having multiple meetings per day. I am very transparent with everyone if I need a mental break. Be honest with yourself and be honest with your body and your mind. You want to prioritize yourself and your happiness. Setting boundaries and sticking to it is key. 

GenHERation®: What do you know now that you wish you would have known when you first started your career? 

Chiles: I wish I knew how my skills could be applied in a variety of ways coming out of college. My goal right out of college was to be a partner of a design firm someday. I learned that, that position was likely not the best goal for me. I’ve gained clarity with each new position. I am still interested in education, whether it be to learn more or to assist others in their career pursuits. It is great to talk to a bunch of people and get different perspectives. Just because you go to design school, you don’t have to be a designer—ask a lot of questions, talk to people in roles around the design world. Learning and knowing how your skills apply to different industries is so important and may lead you to a role you never imagined.

Kristin Chiles is a Real Estate Project Executive at Google, where she handles real estate strategy for over 1M SF in MI and TX. In her role, she oversees site selection, design and delivery of workspace, and collaboration and amenity space for Google. Prior to working at Google, Kristin held the role of Senior Project Manager at CB Richard Ellis where she managed a team of project managers representing owners and landlords in central Texas. She got her start as a Designer and Project Manager at Susman Tisdale Gayle in Austin, Texas. She is the recipient of the 2003 IIDA Commercial Interiors Honorable Mention and her work has been featured in Contract magazine. She brings over 25 years of experience and holds a BA in Interior Design from Michigan State University.

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