Alison Bernstein is Steering the Mothership, Leading a Company of Women Who Originally Dropped out To Be Moms
Alison Bernstein picked the wrong suburb. While rectifying this emotionally and financially costly mistake, a light bulb went on. Why not start a business that will keep others from doing the same?
And so Suburban Jungle Group came to be; the first of its kind real estate advisory and tech firm dedicated exclusively to helping young families leave URBAN for SUBURBAN. She devised a system by which house hunters are each assigned a strategist with whom they can create a personalized search approach based on their family’s distinctive personality, needs, and interests. Using technology and proprietary methodology, the company would then go on to customize a list of towns and develop a personalized home search strategy that would fulfill the individual wishes of the client. There would be no fee for the service- but ultimately there would be a reward post-transaction.
Once a few deals were done, the hiring began. And this is when things got even more interesting.
“I needed a workforce that would be able to empathize with the stress, uncertainty and myriad changes that occur when this key transition in a family’s life happens”, says Bernstein. “Those that continued to fit the bill were mothers themselves who had experienced this firsthand. Those that were balancing career, kids’ emotions, spousal stress, the thought of deciding to leave their career to stay home because of the distance of the move and more.” While some of these women had been out of the workforce for quite some time, they had skills just sitting there unused -and they wanted back in. Bernstein, a champion of women in the workplace and a momtrepreneur of four amassed a group of gals who formerly worked as everything from private investigators to ad execs, on-air broadcasters to bankers.
Beyond putting these people back at their desks, she encouraged a “flex-is-best” approach. This meant all employees could work from home or the office, on their own time -on their own terms. Understandably the unique arrangement would be a little trial and error-as not everyone would succeed. Working prolifically with little oversight and no formal structure is clearly not for everyone. For the right fit the reward of flexibility is everything- allowing for attendance at kids’ sporting events, homework sessions, lunch with loved ones, etc.- all while bringing home the bacon.
And what was the outcome of this experiment of sorts.. “a happy workforce and a better work product that speaks for itself,” says Bernstein.
The organization with offices in New York, Washington DC, Dallas, Miami, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Boston prides itself on staying close, though its employees are dispersed about the country. Weekly calls, monthly meetings, and ongoing slack communication keep the team up on trends, industry changes, company goings-on and more. “The world is changing every minute,” explains Bernstein, “so we need to be able to react in real-time. There is no standing still, and we are all on the mission together.”
So what’s up next for this mamma and her brood..? Expansion, expansion, expansion! “There are always more markets that could benefit from our expertise,” says Bernstein. Denver, Austin, Nashville Philadelphia and Atlanta offices are in the works and are all expected to be up and running in 2020.