Empowered by Support
Director of Property Management, Eileen, credits a culture of support and belonging to her 25-year tenure
Tell us how your journey led you to CBREI thought there were only a few different things that women could do when I was growing up. My mom was a nurse, and I knew teachers, so I thought that was really it. I remember my father telling me, especially when I was getting ready to go to college, I could do whatever I wanted to do. When I went to college, it broadened my horizons. I just knew that I wanted to grow. I wanted to be able to tap into whatever potential I had. Whatever got me excited, I really keyed into. I liked logistics, planning, and working with people. My thought process is more analytical, and I can really dial into numbers; I knew there was a big field out there for it.
I got an accounting degree and started my career at a manufacturing company. I eventually switched to accounting at a commercial real estate firm before joining CBRE. My boss at the time was the controller and went to work for another company. Before she left, she told me that she was going to take me with her. Three months later she called me, I interviewed, and got the job for what seemed like a somewhat lateral move. But I knew this was a large company and there were going to be a lot of opportunities.
I originally came through a company that was acquired by CBRE. I later worked my way up from senior property accountant to accounting manager but began to realize accounting wasn't really where I wanted to be. When I transitioned to CBRE, I discovered I really liked the property management side because there is something different every day. At that time, I talked to my boss—who's still my boss today—and told him I'd really like to move over to property management. He told me to hire my replacement and we will make it happen. Fast forward, I’m now a director in Boston and have been with CBRE for 25 years. I saved every one of my business cards, so I can tell a story with each one!
That’s quite an impressive tenure! What would you say has contributed to your longevity with the company?The culture really comes from a lot of different angles. Property management is a little bit different than being in the corporate office where you’re in this cool office and you get to meet people from different departments. In property management, a lot of times you're on site. Right now, there are only three of us in my office in one open area. We're all kind of in each other's spaces, but it's fun when you have the right dynamic. It can really satisfy that social side, even in a small environment. The culture is really such an important part of it; it starts from the top. It's how much you value everyone. People just want to feel appreciated, like they're a part of something bigger.
I remember a time—this was before you could really work remotely, you would have to bring things home and copy files onto a thumb drive—my son used to get ear infections a lot when he was in daycare. One day I needed to bring him into work with me. My tenant coordinator helped me by playing with him in the hallway while I was on conference calls. My boss, Mark, to this day remembers my son smiling at us from the hallway. It was not an ideal situation, but it worked because everyone saw it as more beneficial for me to be there and knowing you’re appreciated, valued, and supported is so important.
As far as longevity goes, I'm the poster child for being able to show that you can keep moving up the ladder within CBRE. The more you do a great job, make a name for yourself, and make sure people know who you are—you can have those opportunities. As a director, I like to keep people moving up within the organization. It gives that person so much confidence when they grow within the company; they didn't have to go looking elsewhere to get a promotion. They get more money, more responsibility, and get to feel a sense of accomplishment. In turn, their colleagues feel good knowing that they have an opportunity to move up as well. That's always a great feeling.
With growth and longevity comes more demands for your time. As a director, how do you prioritize work and personal time?It's a huge thing. I think it’s important for men, sure, but for women who have families it's absolutely critical. I read something when I was first pregnant with my son, who is now 17, while at my father-in-law's. I was glancing through his VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars) Magazine and there was this interesting article about a woman in the Navy. She was on an aircraft carrier and had been away for six months. She said, “I finally realized that on any given day, I'm not going to be the best employee, the best wife, or parent. If I can do two of those three things well every day, I'm doing really good.” So I think it really comes down to managing expectations—your own as well as everyone else’s.
I have two children, my son and my daughter, who is 13. Prioritizing time is very important. You really need to know when to say no. You must learn how to say no. You can't sign up for everything in the world and you just really need to find the things that are most important to you and prioritize them. I'll glance at my phone, but there are a lot of times when I'm not going to look at it because I'm trying to make dinner or connect with my kids about how their day was. I know I have things to do and those things are important. But prioritizing is important for your mental health as much as anything else. I did not want to be that person who had a really great job but had someone else raise my kids or not have a great relationship with my husband or with my friends.
I’m sure those decisions can sometimes be challenging. What’s one way you decompress to mentally reset?I love music and I love singing in the car. I'm not a good singer so my kids look at me like, “oh please stop!” But I love just being on the highway, belting out tunes. I've never been partial to one artist. I feel like anything that has an upbeat sound, like pop music, just really makes me move and get happy again!
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