Last week, the CEO of Latter & Blum Inc.—a real estate company with over $4.5 billion in sales in 2019—stepped aside after nearly four decades. Chairman/Owner Bob Merrick’s successor in that role? His daughter, Lacey Merrick Conway. A graduate of Boston University and the University of New Orleans, she began her career at Latter & Blum 15 years ago and has assumed growing responsibilities since. Conway says she believes the company, which has 28 offices in Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas, has “tremendous opportunity” to extend the company’s position, though for now, she’s mum on any strategy.
How long have you known you were going to take over
the business, and how have you been preparing for it?
From the time I was licensed in 2005, the question as to whether I would run the company at some point came up frequently. I have experienced the company through various roles whether as a sales person, manager and executive. I only seriously considered this question in 2016 and have shared an office with my father ever since. The natural progression to the executive level and experiencing the company through different roles has served as wonderful preparation for my current role.
What about being president and CEO of this organization that your
father led for four decades excites you most, and what scares you?
When people ask my Dad if he will ever retire he says, “I want to die at my desk.” I used to get upset when he said this, but now I say to myself, “Thank God.” I am lucky to work so closely with someone I admire and love so much.
What is the best business advice you’ve ever received?
Don’t be afraid to make a decision.
What is your leadership style?
I identify most with servant leadership. I am supportive and empathetic but also reserved. I think good leaders can change their style depending on the moment and the situation. At times you have to be demanding, direct, reflective or quiet. I am very accessible to our management team as well as our agents and enjoy the frequent calls and emails.
What will be your strategy for overseeing 25 offices
located throughout Louisiana, Texas, and Southern Mississippi?
We have a wonderful leadership team throughout all the markets we serve. Karl Landreneau runs our commercial division, Cheryl McAdam is head of our residential division and we have talented managers in each of our offices. I divide my time between the corporate office in the warehouse district of New Orleans and visiting each of our offices. Technology gives me the freedom to take my laptop to any office and work.
What are the biggest advantages and the biggest
challenges in the Gulf South real estate market today?
[Advantages are] rates are low, relatively affordable on national level, unique/charming markets. [Challenges are] flooding, infrastructure concerns, coastal erosion, oil and gas sensitivity, affordability issue in some residential markets.
What is your advice for women seeking to
advance in their careers and to the C-suite?
Plenty of studies have shown that men tend to run after opportunities when they open up, whether they’re qualified or not, whereas women tend to feel like they aren’t qualified even when they clearly are. When it comes to pursuing the C suite, I feel like women could do themselves a favor by reaching higher even when they might not feel ready. So much of life is timing—when we wait and wait and wait, we fall into the mindset that we’re not “yet” qualified, that we need just one more year of experience, one more leadership class, etc, etc. These are just ways we trick ourselves into playing small. When that spot opens up, go for it.
Who or what has shaped who you are today?
Like most, I have been shaped through a combination of life experiences and people although I am a good cross product of an artsy, literary mom and a philanthropic, gifted business father.
Tell us three things about yourself that most people don’t know.
I am a fairly respectable fly-fisherwoman.
My first name is Caroline. I have always gone by my middle name, Lacey. This is a source of a lot of confusion.
Ancient Aliens is my favorite television show.