When Linda Harrison moved to San Francisco in 1996, after 20 years of involvement in Fortune 500 companies, including the last 10 at Eastman Kodak Co. (EK), she was looking to leave the "corporate world" far behind.
She did, for the most part — opening Anderson-Harrison Books in Hayes Valley, a rare book outlet met with critical praise but relatively little financial windfall that nonetheless proved to be an important stepping-stone in Harrison’s career.
Harrison’s time away from the corporate world was significant — she was able to fulfill her entrepreneurial dream by opening her own business, and she was also able to lend her efforts to the Business for Social Responsibility, a San Francisco think tank that helps big businesses strategize way to contribute to the community.
So when Harrison made her next career move — to real estate company Pacific Union GMAC, a high-end San Francisco agency with offices in the Presidio, she was able to draw upon her experiences both in the financial and the philanthropic world.
"After we were done with the bookstore a friend suggested I look into real estate," said Harrison, who went to Loyola University in Chicago. "I felt that much of the experience I accumulated in the past was transferable to the position, and I also felt like I could make some valuable inroads in other social arenas."
Upon arriving at the company in 2000, Harrison employed her experience to her senior management role, helping Pacific Union remain among the most successful real estate companies in the Bay Area, while also lending her time as a member of the board of directors of the California Association of Realtors trade group.
Even with those obligations, Harrison found the energy to guest lecture at the Haas School of Business at the University of California at Berkeley (on business model planning) and preside on the board of Frameline, a nonprofit movie distribution company specializing in gay, bisexual, lesbian and transgender topics.
With every new endeavor Harrison undertakes, she maintains a balance between her business experiences and the progressive altruism of her social responsibilities.
"I’m a risk taker and I think I’m continually searching for new ideas," Harrison said. "Through that process, I realize that you can be an advocate for your clients and your community at the same time."
New project: www.sfearn.org. Earn is the nonprofit that helps people learn to save.
Last project: www.frameline.org,
a 30-year-old arts organization; currently board president.
e-mails per day: 50-75
voice mails per day: 40
Essential Web sites:
Best perk: The dining commons in the Lucas Building at The Presidio.
Gadgets: IPod Nano, Treo, Red Tablet laptop with Sprint Wireless card
Education: Loyola University of Chicago (the Jesuits)
First job: Working for my grandmother in her beauty shop (Chicago). I was the shampoo girl and window-display designer.
Original aspiration: Chicago Sympony Orchestra conductor
Career objective: Successful, socially responsible real estate broker
Details: 54 years old, 5-foot-10.
Hometown: Grew up in Hyde Park, on the South Side of Chicago.
hobbies: I love films, museums and
old bookstores and collecting old chairs.
Transportation: Chili red Mini Cooper S
Favorite restaurants: The Front Porch, Petite Robert, Dosa, Frascati and Boulevard
Vacation spot: A luxury spa, in a hotel, on a ship, in the mountains
Favorite clothiers: Billy Blue, Wilkes Bashford, the Sari Shop
Role modelS: District Attorney Kamala Harris, Rep. Nancy Pelosi
Reading: "The Perfect Thing," by, Steven Levy, and "When Red is Black" by Qiu Xiaolon.
Worst fear: Waking up homeless on the street
Motivation: The Old Chinese women exercising in Washington Square Park at 6 a.m.