ADVANTAGE BUILDER: HOLLY WARNICK
Holly Warnick loves a challenge and is a big believer in serious preparation. Consider her pilgrimage to the mecca of downhill mountain biking: Whistler Mountain Bike Park in British Columbia. Riders take a gondola to the top and then careen down 4,900 feet of gravity-fueled, adrenaline-provoking trails, enjoying incredible views of the Coast Mountains.
A lifelong mountain biker, Warnick prepped extensively, taking professional instruction at a summer camp, and following up with a private lesson. “I like having lofty goals that are attainable,” she said. “It puts the right amount of pressure on me to perform. It matters greatly to me to give 100 percent.”
Suited up in a helmet, goggles, elbow and knee pads, and gloves to keep a secure grip on her brakes, Warnick headed down the twisting terrain on her 40-pound bike. Ever the planner, she stopped to take stock of a particularly steep drop before riding over the edge. Unfortunately, she hit an unexpected turn at the bottom and flew over the handlebars, shattering her collarbone. “It was a freak thing,” she said ruefully.
While the accident may have put a hold on Warnick’s pursuit for hard-core mountain biking, it hasn’t discouraged her zeal for big challenges. Warnick is Senior Director, Global Account Operations at CBRE, overseeing a leading global technology provider. Warnick touches all the business lines that CBRE supports. A myriad of disciplines roll up to her, including global lease administration, contracting and procurement, health and safety, business analytics and IT, global facility service center and more.
“As a leader, it’s critical that you are always giving your best because people are looking to you as a role model.”
“The tech industry and our client are super-fast paced, so we move at a pretty good clip,” she said. “My role is to bring together disparate lines of business that don’t have direct connections with each other and move toward a common goal. I perform best in high-pressure environments. As a leader, it’s critical that you are always giving your best because people are looking to you as a role model.”
THE GREAT OUTDOORS
Warnick grew up in Lubbock, Texas with a brother and sister. Her mother was a special education teacher and her father was an attorney who became a state judge and then a federal magistrate. She spent a lot of time outdoors -- hiking, climbing, biking and skiing – on family vacations and school club trips. “We didn’t have all the cool stuff that cities have, so we had to be creative and make our own fun,” she said. “It was a good place to grow up.”
Warnick headed to college at Texas Tech, unsure of her path. “I was a late bloomer,” she said. “I changed my major five times – business, accounting, advertising, education, restaurant and hotel industry management. I finally landed in political science and environmental studies. It took forever to get my bachelor’s degree.”
Not ready for the “real world,” Warnick said, she took a job right out of college at Yellowstone National Park for a year. “I worked in a campground in the summer and managed the snow mobile rental shop in the winter,” she said. “It was very fun. I thought about becoming park ranger for a while.”
A SPECIAL JOURNEY
In 1994, Warnick moved to Seattle and took a job with a skin care company as a components distribution analyst. “I started as the person who did inventory management of bottles, caps, etc.” she said with a laugh. “Then I got to be friends with the people in our real estate group. A position came open for a buyer so I moved over. My career decisions have often been based on whether I like the people.” She also loved the blistering pace – the chain was in the midst of opening 124 new stores.
“I love the problem-solving. Our client has been outsourcing their real estate for a long time so they treat us as partners and really look to us to help drive their business success.”
After the skin care company, Warnick joined Verizon Wireless where she spent 7 years in project management, joining CBRE as a project manager in 2008. “Every project brings some different challenge,” she said. “I love the problem-solving. Our client has been outsourcing their real estate for a long time so they treat us as partners and really look to us to help drive their business success.”
Warnick is proudest of a program she manages called Supported Employment, an initiative CBRE helped build with to their client which encourages the real estate and facilities vendors working for the company to hire people with intellectual developmental disabilities. That includes roles in transportation, food service, landscaping, maintenance, mail and audio-visual support.
“We have placed close to 200 individuals,” she said. “I love it because my mom taught special education, and I know the program is making a difference in people’s lives.” Warnick is hoping to expand the program and bring it to more CBRE clients.
PAYING IT FORWARD
Warnick is also the National Leadership Board Chairperson for CBRE’s LGBTQ & Allies Employee Resource Group. “In the last two years, we’ve tripled our membership,” said Warnick, who came out a decade ago. “I got involved because CBRE has been so supportive of me. I love our diversity platform.”
LGBTQ & Allies provides advocacy for individuals, conducts quarterly calls and produces a newsletter. Some 20 members attended the Out and Equal Workplace Summit in Philadelphia, which attracts more than 4,000 attendees from 26 countries. “CBRE is only major real estate services company that provides corporate sponsorship,” Warnick added.
“Don’t be afraid to be true to who you are, to be the person you want to be.”
Outside of work, family activities are the focus for Warnick, whose partner has four sons in their 20s. They golf, run and bike (recreationally) and take their four dachshunds to the dog park. Her motto? “Don’t be afraid to be true to who you are, to be the person you want to be,” she said, adding “a day without laughter is a day wasted.”