Claire Cormier Thielke is the newest board member at Zillow Group, a real estate and rental marketplace dedicated to empowering consumers and connecting them to professionals who can help.
Claire began her career in real estate young – at just 13 years old, she persuaded her family to move after locating the perfect home on the MLS! The early start clearly paid off. Since then, she’s served as Chief Operating Officer of Investment Management for Hines and, most recently, managing director of Hines Asia-Pacific. Claire’s industry expertise, combined with the rigor she’s developed after decades as a professional track and field athlete, is certain to support and strengthen Zillow’s boardroom.
How will your professional background and experiences benefit the team at Zillow?
“Zillow,” Claire explains, “is at the cutting edge of real estate.” She believes that her experience in urban planning and design as well as scaling real estate portfolios will be helpful to the company as it enters the “Zillow 2.0” era, expanding its offerings to principal acquisition and risk-taking. She is also excited to apply the lessons learned in fund management to board work.
Claire is fascinated by how cities grow and evolve. She focused her studies on urban planning and began her real estate career in emerging markets. With every new role, Claire has been careful to reflect on lessons learned from previous projects and experiences. “You can see patterns in one place and apply that to others,” she explains. These insights have served her well as she’s taken on more senior and visible roles and will play a role in her work as a board member.
How did you know that Zillow was the right fit for you?
From the first conversation with the Zillow team, Claire was compelled. She explains that when deciding to join a board, whether for profit or non-profit, “there’s a level of introspection [that I look for]. What’s on their roadmap – strategy, tech, people?” She believed that “Zillow had [this introspection] in spades. It was part of their DNA.”
Zillow’s commitment to diversity also deeply resonated with Claire. “It’s a brave thing to be so blunt, to be open about the need to add diversity. They took the [The Board Challenge] pledge, set a goal, made it public, and then delivered” she explains. “Nobody says they want less diversity, but few are willing to ‘walk the walk’ especially when moving with Zillow’s hallmark deliberate speed.”
How will you contribute as a board member at Zillow?
Claire uses a clever athletic analogy to describe joining a board. ”It’s like coming into the relay race, mid-way,” she explains in that it’s important to get up to speed quickly and learn the dynamics of the organization. She focuses on asking the right questions, adding value as a thought partner and bringing perspective to the management team.
As she reflects upon her own growth as both a professional and a board member, she draws upon yet another insightful athletic reference. “Practice is painful, but you put in the reps so that when you get to the competition – you’ve seen it before.” There is no doubt that Claire will bring that same competitive spirit and tenacity to her work within Zillow’s boardroom.