Ask the Donor
Building Work-Life Balance:
Real Estate Developer Encourages Women to Pay It Forward
Carol Meyer, BS 69, MBA 71, inherited a love of real estate from her parents, who owned apartments. She bought her first house at age 14, earning $20 a month cash flow with no money down. After earning her MBA, Meyer spent the majority of her career developing high-end housing developments in the Bay Area, most recently as chairman and VP of sales and marketing of Greenbriar Homes, whose total sales top $2 billion. She’s always believed in giving back, sponsoring shelters that helped some 500 people transition out of homelessness. She’s also been a generous donor to Haas, recently offering a successful matching-gift challenge of 5:1 for women who had never before given to the school and 2:1 for women who had, up to $500,000.
What prompted you to challenge women specifically?
When I went to graduate school, there were probably only five women in my class. Now, over 50 percent of undergraduates and 33 percent of full-time MBA students at Haas are female. I think we’re on the threshold of an era where women of this generation will make tremendous strides in business. And they are in a position to give back. What I’m trying to accomplish with this challenge is every alumna giving something to pay it forward. New alums may not think a small donation is important, but put together with many others, it really is significant. And when it goes to Haas, it’s going to benefit generations to come.
What challenges still remain for women?
Child rearing. There are fathers who do the main child rearing, but in general, that falls to mothers. A lot of professional women want to take some time off or cut back during their children’s formative years. Smart companies will figure out how to accommodate these women and reap the rewards.
How did you manage motherhood and a successful career?
I was home for nine years before I went back to work, but I had babies on my hip—literally—while I was out buying properties and investing. When I went back to work, I only worked six hours a day for the first year, and that helped me a lot. I still got the job done. I just had to really plan. Women leaders need to be the engine of change to develop ways that mothers can be accommodated and still keep their oar in the water so that they advance during that time frame.
What advice do you have for women in business?
Like Sheryl Sandberg says, “Lean in.” It doesn’t mean you have to be aggressive. I think you can be as feminine as you want, but you need to be assertive in conveying your ideas with confidence.
Why do you give to Haas?
Haas’ core values fit right in with being good stewards of the environment, being ethical business people, providing high-quality jobs, and making a profit too. Profit is not a bad word. Profit is a good thing, especially if it’s done ethically. That’s how you grow an economy. I can’t think of anything better than empowering the people of California to educate great business leaders. Haas is right there. Why not support something so wonderful?