I conic office buildings are a part of Tara Stacom's DNA. In 2011 alone, she closed two of Manhattan's 10 largest office leases, bringing Conde Nast into more than 1 million sq. ft. at the new One World Trade Center where she spearheads leasing for the landlord.

As a tenant representative, she negotiated a lease renewal of more than 400,000 sq. ft. in Rockefeller Center for financial advisor Lazard.

Now the vice chair of Cushman & Wakefield, Stacom has nearly always derived her daily bread from commercial real estate. Her father, Matthew Stacom, enjoys near-legendary status at Cushman & Wakefield, where he helped steer the development and initial lease-up of the Sears Tower in Chicago.

Even as a child growing up in Greenwich, Conn., the business of brokerage kept food on the Stacom family table. And dominating a wall in the living room, an extraordinary rendering of the Sears Tower continually reminded Stacom of what paid for the roof over her head.

In some ways, Stacom says, her father forced her into the business. She earned a finance degree from Lehigh University and worked briefly for HBO before a layoff in 1981 forced her to move back home. A condition of her return to the house was coming to work for her father at Cushman & Wakefield.

Yet Stacom has blazed her own trail to the upper echelon of commercial real estate, and in 2004 she became the first woman to achieve No. 1 broker status in Cushman & Wakefield's 94-year history.

A trustee at Lehigh University, Stacom worked for seven years to found and grow the Integrated Real Estate at Lehigh program (ire@l). Offering students a minor in real estate, the program has an enrollment of more than 200 students this year. Stacom launched ire@l to propel students, particularly women, into real estate careers.

“Real estate is typically full of nepotism,” says Stacom. “My objective was to introduce individuals to real estate that didn't have it in their home life or in their family life. It's been absolutely rewarding to see more women come into the business.”