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Power Women: Sabine Gaedeke Stener

October 25, 2013

Sabine Gaedeke Stener arrived here with two suitcases in 1994. She was visiting friends in California when her father asked her to evaluate some residential and office buildings in Dallas that her family bought from the RTC. She's still here nearly 20 years later, with two teenagers, a husband, and is CEO of the Gaedeke Group.

Despite growing up in a real estate family in Hamburg, Germany (her father built office, industrial, retail, and residential in CBDs there), her route to real estate was by way of Bertelsmann AG, where she went to work out of college as the assistant to Germany's former minister of finance. When she checked out her family's Dallas assets, she realized they needed leasing, management, and sprucing up. No schadenfreude here; she wasn't pleased at the misfortune. "So we formed a full-service management company to take care of that," she tells us.

The firm soon began acquiring assets, as well, and was approached by a German bank that wanted to start closed-end real estate funds. Gaedeke took over acquisitions, dispositions, and management of the assets. When the bank exited the market in 2005, Gaedeke sold the portfolio on its behalf and has been in business for itself ever since. As CEO, Sabine (here accepting an award from the DBJ for the rehab of One McKinney Plaza) oversees a portfolio of Class-A office buildings in five states and DC as well as the oil and gas investments of Gaedeke Energy and Gaedeke Holdings.

Gaedeke's focus: acquisitions along the Eastern Seaboard, including Boston, Manhattan and DC, where Sabine tells us she spends a lot of time networking. Her firm's recent meisterstuck: the $7M renovation and repositioning of One McKinney Plaza (pictured), which was built in the '80s and had no curb appeal. Gaedeke expanded the grand lobby by extending it closer to the street and added retail on the ground floor. The project in the hot McKinney Corridor has been enormously successful for the firm.

Here's Sabine with artist Maureen Womack and one of the three pieces of art displayed in the Fitzhugh Central Building at 4131 N. Central. Outside of real estate and energy, Sabine is a board member for the USA Film Festival and has been since a year after her arrival in Dallas. She's also on the board of directors for Southern Methodist University's Willis M. Tate Distinguished Lecture Series as well as The Real Estate Council and she is a member of the Young Presidents Organization and the Office Development Council of the Urban Land Institute.

Her advice to young women (above, Sabine at the start of her career): Get involved, become leaders. "Define yourself as a leader not just as a 'woman in business'," she says. "Set goals, create something and work at making it successful." When Gaedeke's oil and gas company was launched in 2005, it was really "hilarious," given she doesn't look like the typical oil and gas guy. What she's learned: as soon as people realize you know what you're talking about, they will respect you.
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