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Alicia Cervera Lamadrid

Vitals: 55; born in Havana, moved to Miami at three years old; the middle of three children to mother Alicia Cervera Sr., founder of Cervera Real Estate, and her father, Javier Cervera Sr., who is on the company’s executive team; a University of Miami graduate who originally planned to become a clinical psychologist; married for 28 years to husband Alberto Lamadrid, who owns a local yacht company; mother to Alicia Lorena, 26, a real estate and construction management graduate of the University of Denver who now works at the Cervera firm, and Alberto Antonio, 24, who works with his dad.

Current job: As the managing partner of Cervera Real Estate she oversees day-to-day business operations. “There are 100 questions that come up every day, and decisions that need to be made for the general real estate side of our operation. I’m the one making those decisions.”

First job: “Welcome to McDonald's, how can I help you? Would you like fries with that?” I worked for McDonald's for about a year when I was in high school. I started right there on the counter, and then I got a promotion plus a nickel raise—which was a huge deal! I was promoted to something they called The Star, which was kind of a PR position. I’ll never forget I had the red, triple polyester suit as my uniform.”

First sale: “It was a tiny house in a borderline neighborhood, bought with an FHA loan. It was so important to start that way because I learned so much. It taught me about the process and the fact that, whether you’re selling a $50,000 house or a $500 million house, you have to work just as hard to get that job done.”

Best advice you’ve received: “My mom always told me of the importance of not losing touch with your feminine side when you walk into the office every day. That regardless of the challenges you face, you have to meet them as a woman. If you try to meet them as a man you’re never going to win because you’re playing on their terms and not on yours. I think that with all the gains of the feminist movement there was some thinking that in order to be equal we had to be the same as men. But my mom always said, “I love men. I adore men. But I don’t want to be a man.”

Proudest moment on the job: “My husband’s a big boater and we were sailing back from the Bahamas. We were on the water, approaching Miami and and I looked to the right and saw South of Fifth, then looked to the left and saw Brickell Avenue. So many of the buildings on Brickell were sold by my mom. And so many of the beautiful high-rises in South of Fifth—the Apogee and Murano, Yacht Club at Portofino and Murano Grande—had been sold by Cervera Real Estate with me at the helm. It was a tremendous source of pride to see how our involvement in the city had helped create not only homes for individuals, but magnificent neighborhoods. It was a very special moment for me.”