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How One Industry Pro Wants to Improve Affordability

In our second installment of “Profiles in Success,” a series where NAA talks to successful apartment professionals to learn how they got where they are, who inspired them and what their biggest challenge was, we visit a Director of Real Estate from Seattle.

Sheri DruckmanName: Sheri Druckman
Company: Greystar Real Estate Partners
Title: Director of Real Estate
Years in the Industry: 25 years

What was your first apartment job? 

When I moved from Iowa to Seattle in 1994, a local temp agency placed me at a small, family-owned company in Seattle where I managed apartment homes, moorage, retail and commercial space.

Describe your job now

As a Director of Real Estate for Greystar, I manage the financial and operational performance of a portfolio of properties in Seattle. I guide and develop a team of Regional Property Managers to ensure that goals and objectives are met. I establish client relationships and identify new business opportunities and assist in in due diligence and acquisitions.

Who was your greatest influence in the industry (how did they influence you)? 

Trammell Crow. Mr. Crow was a pioneer in the real estate industry with unparalleled vision and a passion for success. He believed in the power of emotional intelligence and hired people with high EQs who could relate to others and have situational awareness. There are so many leaders in the real estate industry, myself included, whose roots come from either TCR or TCRS and who continue to shape our industry today. Mr. Crow led by example with his humor, kindness, upbeat personality along with his uncompromising honesty, integrity and character. He influenced my leadership style by instilling a servant leadership philosophy and principle.

What was your biggest challenge? How did you overcome that challenge? 

Transitioning to third-party fee-management from owner-operated management was a big challenge. Overcoming it required flexibility, grit, a strong desire to achieve and a great deal of determination. Gaining an understanding of multiple clients’ goals, adapting to their operating styles and motivating my team to be resilient and stay the course to shared success is also critical.

What is your ultimate goal in the apartment industry?

My goal is to create value for partners, clients, team members and residents. It is also to make a difference and help shape legislation. I want to be innovative and harness technological advances to enhance the customer experience and increase profitability. I want to personalize the connection with clients and residents. In this digital age, innovation and technology will only succeed if we not only fulfill clients’ needs but genuinely thrill them.

What has the apartment industry given you personally and professionally? 

It has given me more than two decades of incredible relationships with people from the entire industry, including team members, colleagues, partners, residents, clients and politicians. Fostering those relationships has opened doors for me.

What’s your favorite or funniest apartment industry story? 

I remember feverishly working for months preparing my teams and sites for the Y2K panic. We upgraded computer systems and bought generators, flashlights, food, water and blankets. We also hired security, put together emergency procedure plans and educated residents about the expected the disruption of electricity, water services, banking systems, communication and transportation. Then at the turn of the Millennium -- nothing happened! The world did not end and there were no catastrophic disasters.

What’s one thing you or your company does that sets it apart? 

We invest in our communities and our team members. We promote Greystar Giving and Team Member Leadership Development. There is a strong focus on giving back to our communities and an investment in our people. I often say it’s not Property Management, it’s PEOPLE Management. Developing and investing in our people is a top priority.

Success is best when shared. How do you or your company find ways to give back?

Greystar Giving is a company-wide philanthropic effort led by Greystar Team Members. It was launched in February 2010 with the challenge of raising $50,000 for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital®. Greystar Team Members not only met that challenge, but have gone on to contribute more than $2,700,000 to St. Jude. In 2012, Greystar Giving was expanded to include two additional philanthropic programs, Greystar Stars in Need and Greystar Scholars. These programs provide support for Greystar Team Members by Greystar Team Members. In 2014, Greystar Giving was further expanded to include Camp Hope, a PTSD Foundation of America Outreach. This non-profit organization is dedicated to mentoring combat veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder and their families. In addition, Greystar team members participate in a variety of fund raising efforts across the country.

What volunteer roles do you currently hold? 

I am President of the Washington Multi-Family Housing Association, WMFHA Government Affairs Committee, NAA Communications and Marketing Committee and NAA Leadership Lyceum.

How has your experience as a volunteer helped you during your career? 

Volunteering is such a rewarding experience. The happiest people I know are the people who give, whether it is their time, money or resources. Giving and volunteering provide a sense of purpose and create community. Volunteering has helped me in my career by building confidence, developing new skills and meeting new people.

What do you like to do when you’re not working?

I enjoy family time with my husband and our two boys, ages 10 and 13. We love to travel, ski, play tennis, fish for salmon and cheer on the boys’ sporting events.

What did you want to be growing up? 

A Motivational Speaker.

What do you want to be doing five years from now? 

I want to experience the positive outcome of efforts made to improve the affordability of housing in Seattle.

If you could have talked to yourself 10/15/20 years ago, what would you have said? 

Believe in yourself. You will have a wonderful, fulfilling life. Enjoy every moment of it.

What’s your favorite quote? 

 “Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude” from Zig Ziglar; and, “The growth and development of people is the highest calling of leadership” from Harvey S. Firestone.

What’s your favorite song/musician? 

“Lovely Day” by Bill Withers

What’s the biggest difference you see in our industry today compared to when you started? 

The biggest difference is the advancement of technology and how it is evolving our industry. IoT and PropTech impacts how the industry operates and the use of technology often creates new services that benefit customers and the way we buy, rent, sell, build and manage properties.