Part 2 of Award-Winning GMs: The Path to Running a Successful Office Building

Chicago, IL | May 05, 2021

Award-Winning GMs: The Path to Running a Successful Office Building

MBRE is lucky enough to have four general managers who have won BOMA/Chicago’s “Gold Circle Award” in the “Property Management Professional of the Year” category. After 1 North Dearborn General Manager Michael Graham won the award in February, we started asking ourselves: what qualities do our successful general managers share? Among the most important qualities we’ve found is their ability to listen. Our general managers build relationships by listening and being present with staff and tenants alike, and the buildings they manage are the better for it.

Below is an interview on the subject with Michael Graham, along with 181 West Madison General Manager Krystal Kurinsky, 1 North LaSalle General Manager Courtney Hamm, and former Richard J. Daley Center General Manager Andre Wiggins—who is now MBRE’s Vice President of Asset Management. Additionally, we spoke to Managing Director of Asset Management Suzanne Hendrick. To read all of our interviews with these superb asset management pros, click here.

Michael noted that in the past 20 years, asset management has become a more personable industry.

“The best part of the job is the community. I love the people. It’s been terrible the last couple of years—there were too few people here for too long, but I’m energized to see so many returning!” Michael said. “The more real I am, the better relationships I develop with those in my building. Because when things go wrong is when you need to phone a friend. With strong personal connections, we can work through challenges together, with common goals and understanding of our limitations, which is critical to our success as a community.”

Property management has a routine, there are things we have to do every month, but then there’s all the other stuff. The unexpected. And creating strong personal relationships with tenants, vendors, and owners is often how you deal with the unexpected. - Courtney HammMBRE Executive Vice President and Managing Director of Asset Management Suzanne Hendrick also highlighted how the role of the general manager has changed in recent years.

“20 years ago, the goal was to meet quarterly with each decision-maker at the companies in your building,” Suzanne said. “Now, you want to interact with all your occupants by getting them together in your tenant lounge regularly. You want to make each interaction with every person meaningful. Every relationship is equally important, it’s not only your relationship with the decision-maker who used to sit in the corner office that matters.”

Over time, Courtney has realized that the relationships you build are invaluable when dealing with the unexpected.

“Property management has a routine, there are things we have to do every month, but then there’s all the other stuff. The unexpected. And creating strong personal relationships with tenants, vendors, and owners is often how you deal with the unexpected,” Courtney elaborated. “You’re encountering these people every day, and there’s always something happening. Something you might not have ever dealt with. Sure, we have rules and regulations, but you also have to figure out how talk to people like a human being. Being able to have a conversation and come up with solutions is how to fix the unexpected.”

At 181 West Madison, Krystal builds relationships by being as present as possible for her tenants and staff.

“I'm a believer in getting up from behind your desk and visiting with tenants, especially if they call you about an issue. I like to see things with my own eyes,” Krystal said. “Also, weekly staff meetings let me tap into information from those on the ground. Everyone is given a turn to share what is going on in their world. All of us can contribute what we know, and we can stop issues in advance.”

Meanwhile, Andre’s time at the Daley Center left him exposed to a diverse audience of not just tenants and their employees—Andre also dealt with an eclectic mix of people from the public.

“People from all walks of life find their way through the Richard J. Daley Center, and that can be challenging most times,” remarked Andre. “But once you’ve helped the person looking for direction, de-escalated a domestic dispute, or lent an ear to someone looking to vent their frustrations, you’ve helped someone at the end of the day. That is a very rewarding feeling.”


This piece is part of our series, "Award-Winning GMs: The Path to Running a Successful Office Building." Click the links below to view the other articles:

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