SARAH GIBBS, RPA, FMA
CORPORATE REAL ESTATE
- After college, I started with Apartment Finders in Birmingham, AL which is a long way from upstate New York where I grew up and went to college! I had a knack for finding apartments for people and I really enjoyed meeting so many different people who were moving to Birmingham. I was subsequently asked to join Capstone Development, who developed and leased furnished apartments to college students at SEC colleges, and moved to Athens, GA.
- After 4 years in the south, I returned to NYS and worked my way up from an apartment complex Leasing Agent to Site Manager and then to Property Manager for five complexes. A few years later, I took a job with an Albany-based commercial real estate developer as a Property Manager where I learned the ropes. Fast forward to 2015, I was a volunteer at a "Rocking on the River" concert event and I met my would-be husband! We married in 2017 and moved to Charlotte to get away from all of the snow and cold. I interviewed with U.S. Bank before departing NYS and received the job offer for Property/Facility Manager for the Metro Markets East Region while I was crossing the border between VA into NC! When it's meant to be, it's meant to be! I currently manage 46 sites in ten states along the east coast between NYC & Dallas and I love every minute of it!!
- I've had so many mentors over the years, all of whom have taught me so much at different stages of my life and career. When I was just starting out, an older Property Manager taught me how to compose a well written business letter, which I still model today and comes in handy when I have bad news to break, but in a friendly but professional manner. He also told me that one phone call is the equivalent of 20 emails (Don't hide behind emails! Get out there, build lasting relationships and become a strong communicator).
- When I moved to the commercial side of real estate, a wonderful man and owner of a HVAC company took me under his wing and taught me everything about commercial HVAC systems. It was so helpful when I was working toward my RPA designation (Bldg. Operations) and we developed such a nice long-lasting friendship. I've always valued my vendor relationships and consider them my trusted partners.
- Still later in life, I was involved in a Leadership Program with the Rensselaer Chamber. I met and became the mentee of a dynamic generous woman and Sr. VP of a community bank in Albany, NY. We would frequently meet over breakfast to talk about my career. One thing she taught me was the benefits of enhancing my staff's unique abilities in order to help them develop their own leadership skills, which in turn would further enhance my leadership skillsets.
- My advice is to get a mentor, if you don't already have one or two, and then become one yourself to reap the benefits of this type of relationship!
- Life will throw you some curveballs, it always does. But shake yourself off, learn to laugh at yourself, reflect on what you learned from the disappointment, and then get back in the game. When I was younger, I would get defensive if my manager tried to correct me. Then I realized that she wouldn't bother with the critique if she didn't think I could learn from it and grow! So now I embrace reviews and I always ask what I can do better to serve the company and customers.
- Don't multitask while talking to someone. They can hear you clicking on the computer! Better yet, go meet them in person or video chat (remember the phone call/email note above!). You need to be present in mind, be accountable for your actions, be dependable, and enjoy your time with the other person(s) in order to develop trusting and successful relationships.
- I love this career because it's so multi-faceted. No two days are ever the same, you get to move around to all of the different sites, develop long-lasting relationships with internal and external customers, and there is always a challenging situation to learn from.
- I joined BOMA-Capital Region (Albany, NY) in 1997 in order to meet other people in the industry and attend the informative luncheon meetings. Shortly thereafter, I spent 2.5 years earning my RPA and FMA from BOMI (they didn't offer the accelerated courses back then). I served on the BOMA Board for years and was President for three consecutive years. I think I've chaired every committee at one time or another. I always enjoyed attending the National Issues Conference in Washington, DC and Regional and International Conferences. The people you meet in this organization are remarkable and you gain so much out of BOMA, but only if you get involved and participate. When I started with U.S. Bank, I was responsible for 86 sites in 19 states and I traveled frequently. We have since hired another Property/Facility Manager to share the load with me, which has allowed me more time to follow my passions, which includes participating in BOMA events and getting to know fellow Charlotte Principal and Allied Members.
- I love to hike, cook, garden and I am an avid history buff.
- The climate initially drew us here and the fact that it's such a captivating city that is growing and vibrant! We love where we live (Mtn. Island Lake) and my husband and I are having a blast exploring the many restaurants in Charlotte and taking mini-vacations in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
SE REGIONAL PROPERTY MGR
- Originally born in London, U.K., and moved to the states very young. Grew up mostly in Atlanta, GA where I entered into the CRE world at only 20 years old! 17 years later, still going strong and couldn't have chosen a better city to land in for my work.
- I have had so many wonderful mentors along my career path, each of them had something unique within them, they all had their own creative piece of the puzzle and I was able to take away a little piece of each of them and carry it on.
- Be involved, insert yourself into the vision you believe in . Be visible to your company and colleagues and learn as much about your industry as you can, the responsibilities are key but learning about anything in general is human health.
- Being positive! As many jobs go, there is much more room in the world for negativity. Finding the positive in situations, opens many more doors.
- My property management team! I couldn't do my job without everyone else working the same goal with me. The team is what defines the achievements.
- I joined BOMA to meet people in the industry, and the golf outings! There are so many folks in the industry that have a lot to offer. I have also made some truly wonderful friends along the way as well.
- I became a lot more involved in BOMA as I learned about the TOBY awards, I thought it was such a great concept to challenge the properties and let them have a presence to shine in. TOBYs are to show the filed that there are great performers out there and owners that truly care for their assets. I have been a fortunate recipient of an International TOBY and a few Regionals TOBYs. I am also a proud; local, regional and international judge when needed.
Favorite thing about Charlotte:
- The food! We have quite the arrangement of A+ cuisines in the city and we continue to bring more and more here.
MELINDA HOPKINS, RPA, FMA
- My family moved to Charlotte from Atlanta, Georgia when I was about 9 months old. Not quite a native but say I am since there aren't many residents that are actually from Charlotte. I have worked in the Property Management industry for over 20-years, starting in Facilities and have moved back and forth between facility management and property management over this period.
- I've been blessed with so many in my life, naming one is impossible. Every place I've spent time, whether personal or professional, there has always been someone who I admired and learned from. In property management, I would say that I've had the privilege of working with some very intelligent and strong women who taught me so much about this industry. On a personal level, one co-worker many years ago taught me to always look for the positive in people and situations.
- Never stop learning. Every day provides an opportunity to learn something new, gain new insights to a situation being worked thru, or discover a better way to handle the next "crises". Each day is a new experience in this industry. Listen to those around you, ask questions and never hesitate to ask for help or advice.
- Keep a level head and be flexible. Your day will never go as planned, the schedule changes constantly, and there is always a real or imagined fire to put out. Being able to stay calm and work thru whatever has been thrown at you is critical to your success (and sanity?).
- The relationships built with everyone. You can develop long-term relationships with co-workers, tenants, vendors, etc. It is a challenging career with many ups and downs but I love the fact that no two days are ever the same.
- While still new in the industry, I was encouraged to join BOMA to learn more about the industry and earn an RPA, and later FMA designations.
Favorite thing about Charlotte:
- It is a beautiful city that enjoys all the seasons!
NAI SOUTHERN REAL ESTATE
- I grew up in Charlotte, so I feel like Charlotte native. I am a proud South Mecklenburg Sabre. I graduated from Winthrop University where I majored in marketing. During high school and college, I worked at Carowinds, I worked there for 10 seasons. I have been in 3rd party property management for my entire career and in that time, I have worked for only 2 firms. I have been lucky enough to have been in property management for over 37 years and received my RPA designation in 1987. Getting my designation was one of the best achievements in my career.
- It would have to be the person that gave me my opportunity in property management, Charlie Madsen, he was a great mentor, but he was a better friend. Charlie always set the bar very high for me and he was a great teacher, he always knew the answer before he asked the question.
- My best advice is to live a healthy lifestyle, learn to live with incompleteness and always be sharpening the saw, and always try to be better today than you were yesterday.
- In the real time world, we seem to live in it is important to be able to manage your time effectively since there are so many time wasters, but a manager must also possess effective intrapersonal skills which include effective written and verbal communication.
- I have really enjoy never having 2 days alike. But the best thing about property management is having the opportunity to meet so many different people and being able to work with so many extremely talented people over my career.
- I initially joined BOMA for the networking and the education offerings but being a member of BOMA has enhanced my professional career in so many ways. When I first started my real estate career, BOMA was the one organization which I was told you must be a member of. I believe that is as true today as it was 37 years ago. The real difference between then and now is all the activities where BOMA members give back to the community, Ronald McDonald House, supporting our troops, etc.
Favorite thing about Charlotte:
- I have enjoyed seeing the growth of the city. Charlotte is so much more dynamic than it has ever been. I am not sure that there have many places better than Charlotte for real estate management. The number of career opportunities that have been available is tremendous.