AMPressions

AMP Interviews with the biggest movers and shakers in the Apartment Management Industry

Sheila is really a Chicago multifamily industry icon of sorts having worked at the same company for over 3 decades!  She is so humble about her talent and experience which is what makes her so likable. If you don’t know her, you should.  If you want to know how to succeed in multifamily, follow her lead.  She will not steer you wrong!

I love dissecting words and looking for greater meaning like the word Apartment.  What sets you “Apart” and why are you “Meant” for the multifamily industry?

Careers in the multifamily space look very different now than they did years ago.  We have the opportunity to make a difference in both our lives and the lives of others that we’re looking after, if you will.  It’s very rewarding to be part of building a vibrant culture where dedication to serving others is paramount.  Because The Habitat Company manages several different business lines, we’re in a position to capitalize on our best practices and leverage those programs across our portfolio to all our residents.  I’m not sure I was “meant” for property management but I’ll say that it allows me to make a difference, all while doing something I love. 

How and when did you get your start in the industry?

I’m not sure most people graduate college and think “I’d love to get into property management” but for those of us who were introduced to the multifamily industry that continues to evolve and change lanes, its been a good ride!

What is one song that always puts you in a good mood?

 I love a variety of music and I’m drawn to one genre over another based on my mood.  However, whenever I hear Despacito by Luis Fonsi  - it makes me just want to get up and dance.

 

What are 3 tips you would give someone considering a career in multifamily?

Prepared to be nimble, tap your problem-solving skillset and know that no two days are alike.

 

What is your proudest moment in multifamily?

One of my proudest moments and scariest had to be when I became GM for Presidential Towers (PT) (2,346 apartments, 110,000 sq ft of commercial space and a 1,200 parking garage).  I accepted the position before 9/11/01 and then the world changed.  The location of PT was close in proximity to, at the time, Sears Tower; the building design had loading docks under a portion of each Tower and the name of the community (Presidential Towers) lead many to believe this could be a target for terrorist attacks.  In addition, this happened to be during the same time as The Enron scandal that led to the closing of Arthur Andersen (AA).  The significance of this was many AA workers lived at PT.  With that back story helping to set the stage, the building was 78% occupied and people were afraid to live there.  Working with 100+ team members, we raised occupancy to the highest level ever achieved of 98%, implemented an 18% increase in market rents, increased the value of the property for the owner which led to one of the largest sales of the time $475 million.  Without a dedicated, hard-working, talented team working together this would not have been achievable.  

 

Who is your mentor and why?

I am fortunate to have had a few during my career and depending on my position, it may have been a direct supervisor or a colleague. Working in an industry that deals with individual’s homes is very emotional for residents.  Inevitably things are going to happen.  Having respect, honesty, integrity, and transparency when dealing with people will go along way to making even a bad situation a better one.  

 

What book has left the biggest impression on your life?

I love to read and finding the time these days can be challenging.  I find myself reading more real estate industry materials than I do for pleasure.  However, I always like an old classic such as 'Alice in Wonderland' by Lewis Carroll.  To have childish curiosity in life’s adventures reminds you to have fun, be playful in all aspects life, love and words.

 

If you ever owned an apartment community, where would it be and what would you name it?

There are many exciting cities; however, I am partial to Chicago.  It is a cultural haven and probably the most beautiful lakefront.  Chicago, like any city, has its issues and yes, we’ve been losing population; however, we’re still the 3rd largest city in the U.S.!

 

What is your most memorable vacation?

I love to travel to new places in the US and abroad and have been fortunate to do so on many occasions.  However, one trip, in particular, was when my husband surprised me (by not telling me in advance where we were going) and we arrived in Prague followed by Italy. We spent my birthday visiting beautiful countries, celebrating new cultures with friends - I’ll always remember :).

 

If our country went to 4-day work weeks, how would you spend your 5th day?

It would not be difficult to fill up another day!  When you work full time, it can be challenging to fit everything in two days so out of the gate, I’m thinking that some of those demands would spill over.  Having said that, a growing number of companies already offer more liberal telecommuting options and flexible hours (Habitat offers flexible hours).  The four-day week may be the next frontier!

Sheila Byrne

EVP Property Management

The Habitat Company

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