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Board of Visitors Spotlight: Pam O’Connor

O'ConnorPamela (Pam) O’Connor (B.S. /JEM ’72) is president and CEO of Leading Real Estate Companies of the World® and a member of CCI’s Board of Visitors.  O’Connor heads the largest global real estate network in the world with over 550 premier independent real estate firms.  She has managed real estate and relocation organizations for the past 28 years and   is the first woman to head a major real estate network.  Previously, she held marketing positions for WSB-TV in Atlanta and a major national real estate development firm.  She also co-owned Bryson-O’Connor Public Relations in Atlanta.   

O’Connor’s list of awards and honors is extensive and began when she graduated from UT with honors in 1972. Some of her recent honors include being named as one of the top 25 thought leaders by the National Association of Realtors and being listed as one of the top 100 most influential people in real estate by Inman News. 

Born in New York City and raised in the South as the daughter of a career Navy family, Pam and her husband Tom live in Chicago and have one daughter, Molly.

CCI: How and when did you first get involved (on a volunteer basis) with CCI?

In 2010, I became acquainted with Dean Mike and Alice Wirth and Andrew Shafer on one of their visits to Chicago.

CCI: In your view, what is the most important or impactful role you’ve played as a volunteer? 

The opportunity to host a group of UT students from CCI’s Diversity Student Leaders Society at our office in Chicago earlier this year, to help them gather tips from our young professionals on how to explore career options and conduct a job search after college.  The bridge from school to work can be a challenging one, so it was rewarding to be able to shed some light on that process.

CCI: Why have you chosen to support the college (financially and/or with your time)? Why do you see this as important?

College years are very formative ones, so I attribute whatever success I have had, in at least some measure, to those years at UT in what was then the College of Communications.  It’s gratifying to be able to support students as they begin their career journeys today. 

CCI: What do you hope to accomplish during your term with the BOV

To provide a business perspective, since I am one of those alums who took a different path – after working in PR – into more of a business management role.  In today’s world, media have to be relevant to consumers in order to remain financially viable; so if I can share some of those insights from where I sit, I can hopefully add some value.  

CCI: Is there anything exciting or interesting going on “behind the scenes” in CCI that the average alum might not be aware of? 

I’m too new to add much here, but I have been impressed by the energy, creativity and outward-focused mindset of the Wirths.  Their enthusiasm for UT and CCI is contagious and will not only bring out the best in their students but will engage others in the world outside of UT who may be in positions to bring opportunities to those students.

CCI: If someone is considering volunteerism as a way to “give back” to the University, what advice would you have for them? Why should they do it? 

Whenever you give, you get.

CCI: What from your UT and CCI experience has “stuck with you” during life since graduating? 

I largely credit UT (and my Catholic grade school nuns!) for my ability to ‘wordsmith,’ strive for objectivity, and research ‘the facts.’  Sammie Lynn Puett was a wonderful mentor in that regard, and while my job today isn’t in journalism, I use those skills every day in everything from responding to RFP’s, to writing white papers and business plans, to trying to influence others on various business issues. 

CCI: What is your favorite memory from your time as a student at UT? 

Great friends who remain so over 30 years later, football weekends, producing a TV commercial to ‘Grazin’ in the Grass’ music, Pi Phi projects, and the beautiful mountains of East Tennessee.

CCI: Any other parting words of wisdom?

Just to bring as much of the world to UT as possible, so that students understand the wide array of options awaiting them in the years after graduation.