As the contingent of women in industry leadership continues to grow, the women in those roles have advice for those seeking them: Never underestimate the importance of connections. Innovation goes beyond technology. And always seek stepping stones early in your career.
A panel of muiltfamily executives discussed these concepts on Episode 1 of Entrata Connect in a session moderated by Entrata Industry Principal Virigina Love, one of the industry’s most capable leaders since 1992.
While many pride themselves on cultivating relationships, it can be argued that no industry relies more on connection than multifamily.
“I think our industry is the definition of connection,” said Sandra Barfield, senior vice president of Peak Campus. “I’ve gravitated toward certain people and others have taken me under their wing and showed me the way. I’m still connected with a number of people from early in my career—we’re just connected in a different way now on a more personal basis.”
Innovation has been more than a buzzword in the industry lately, especially as technology is needed more than ever to assist operations during the pandemic. But while innovation is typically mentioned with regard to technology, it also occurs daily in the way associates are adapting to changes within their teams and operations. Innovation, according to Love, is a mindset or new way of interpreting and navigating adjusted processes.
“In February at our annual leadership conference, our CEO charged us with being able to pivot and turn on a dime without losing momentum as we execute our company’s vision and strategy,” said Nichole Reed, area vice president for AMLI Residential. “Who knew that she was preparing us for, literally, a pandemic? Pivot is all I have done. I feel like I have point shoes on like a ballerina.”
The panel also imparted advice for newcomers to the industry. That included the idea to learn as much as you can from existing associates.
“One thing I love about this industry is that a lot of us have worked at all the different levels, so we know what it feels like on the front lines,” said Tracy Bowers, executive manager of RangeWater Real Estate, who started as a leasing agent in 1989. “My father gave me two pieces of advice that remain relevant today—what comes around goes around, and treat others the way you want to be treated.”
Bowers also recalled receiving an interview for a promotion early in her career and wondered whether she should discuss salary. Her father told her to get the job first and the money will follow. Although the pay increase wasn’t dramatic initially, it did indeed follow.