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Tampa Women (Win)ing Spotlight On: Lizbeth Strother

Lizbeth Strother

The Cushman & Wakefield Tampa office publishes a recurring feature on the women of the Tampa WIN chapter, their accomplishments and the tips and advice they have for other women in the commercial real estate field. 

Here’s our interview with Lizbeth Strother , Assistant Property Manager at 100 North Tampa.

Michelle & Nicole: How did you make your first dollar?

Lizbeth: In babysitting… I was raised to be a workhorse and working is part of who I am, so after babysitting for a few years, I worked at FAO Schwartz back when we had an FAO Schwartz at Westshore Mall, the summer going into my senior year of high school. I was assigned the Barbie section, which is obviously every little girl’s dream come true. The Barbie section is a big deal because it’s not just a section, it’s a “calling,” because of the Barbie shoppers.

M&N: Who was the weirdest Barbie shopper you ever had?

L: Oh, I saw them all. People purchased dolls as soon as they came out for that year. The Christmas dolls were really popular. I recently saw someone selling their Barbie dolls on Facebook Marketplace – it made me happily remember that time in my life and I was tempted to drop $2,000 just to buy one of these timepiece Barbie collections. It was a fun job.

M&N: What came after FAO Schwartz?

L: I went to college after that.  I went to a local college, Hillsborough Community College, and then transferred to the University of South Florida. I did three years of college and became a mom, a wife, and immediately transitioned to working full-time.

M&N: At school, did you study anything specific?

L: I was a Business major because I always knew that I wanted to be in corporate America in some way, shape, or form. I liked the idea of being in a cutting edge environment. I love coming downtown and feeling cool as part of corporate America.

M&N: What classes at college did you find most beneficial now in everyday business life?

L: Every single class that required me to get in front of an audience and present… I use public speaking every day in my current role. I believe that without clear communication, it’s nearly impossible to progress in a working environment

M&N: You went to college, became a mom… What was your path into real estate and what you’re doing now?

L: Before commercial real estate,  my prior life was in higher education, which was a completely different industry. I worked in marketing, student loans, etc. That industry evolved and changed and I wanted to move out of that and start another career path. I started out at a smaller commercial real estate firm and learned the operations component of the industry, which allowed for an easy transition into my current role.

M&N: What is your current role?

L: Assistant Property Manager at 100 North Tampa, which is a new title I just got! I was recently promoted in January.

M&N: Congratulations! How big is the team at 100 North Tampa?

L: We have a team of 10 people.

M&N: How big is 100 North Tampa?

L: We are an office tower of 552,080 square feet.

M&N: How long have you worked at 100 North Tampa?

L: I’ve been at 100 North Tampa exactly three years and with Cushman & Wakefield a total of  four years.

M&N: Did you know you wanted to go into Property Management or did you see this job posting and thought you would be a good fit for it?

L: The name of the company (at the time Cassidy Turley) was very attractive to me because it was a large global company and had a lot of presence. I also knew that I loved operations-type work, so I knew that I would like the job… and whatever I didn’t know, I would learn quickly. I knew that priorities had to be being attentive to tenants, keeping up the appearance of the building, staying on budget, and knowing how the building operated.

M&N: It’s clear you love 100 North Tampa and love your job. On the opposite side of things, tell us about a time when you professionally face-palmed.

L: Daily! I face palm every day! Things I need to work on…? I’m not great at remembering a person’s name which is SO important in the role I’m in. We meet so many people in a given day and I haven’t mastered the process of remembering everyone’s name.

M&N: Property Management is a very interesting job. You have to evolve, you have to stay on trend, and you have to keep your tenants happy. What does your team read, do, etc. to stay on top of those industry trends to keep your building current?

L: We need to be on trend and know exactly what our clients need. Do our tenants want a common space to have coffee with their team? Do our tenants want a fitness center? I, personally, cling on to anyone who has knowledge. I’m that little sister who never goes away. I immediately build a relationship, quiz the person I meet, take in any knowledge they have to give. I also read anything BOMA (Building Owners and Managers Association) puts out. I’m new in this industry, so I know it’s important to teach myself and learn as much as I can because what tenants want changes on a daily basis. We need to make sure that we are on trend. Your clients / tenants also are a great resource because they will always communicate their needs… especially if you have a good relationship with them.

M&N: What’s new at 100 North Tampa that you have in store for your tenants?

L: Right now, we’re going through a multi-million dollar elevator modernization, which is a big deal because it allows our tenants to get to their space quickly, and it helps us be energy efficient. The elevator modernization will include a user-friendly touch screen where tenants will manually enter their floors and then will be assigned an elevator. We are also re-doing our 7,000 square foot fitness center, which we are extremely excited about.

M&N: Why do you think your tenants love 100 North Tampa so much?

L: I believe it’s the people who are in the building that make it great. Anytime we issue a survey about tenant satisfaction, a lot of the responses that we get center around the people who work at 100 North Tampa. We’ve done such a great job at developing relationships with our tenants. We know what they need, we attend to their needs quickly, and those two things make us stand out.

M&N: In the past three years, how have tenant demands evolved?

L: Everyone is looking for a trendy, open space. Amenities are IT. Tenants are looking for convenience, like a newsstand that’s open the whole day where they can buy something quick to eat for lunch. Technology needs to be up-to-date. Security has to be up-to-par. Fitness centers are a big need. In our building, we also host tenant events. Recently, we had The Humane Society come in and bring puppies to the building. A puppy kissing booth was set up, which helped raise money for the Humane Society and placed five pups in their “furever” homes. Tenants appreciate a non-traditional way of breaking up the day.

[SIDE NOTE: Lizbeth specifically wanted us to put in here that one day when she grows up she wants to own a doggy daycare.]

M&N: You’re a mom. How do you juggle being a mom and being a professional?

L: I live by the motto of “we all have the same 24 hours, it’s what we do with it that makes a difference.” I live by my mental checklist. I also want to be more than a mom and professional. For example, one of the things I love about Cushman & Wakefield is that I can do Meals on Wheels and feel like I’m giving back to the community. As a member of WIN, we’ve done work with the Tampa Bay Crisis Center and I’ve loved that. That gives me balance because giving back is important to me and my workplace allows me to do that. With that said, I think we’re ALL trying to figure it out. One of my personal tricks is that I order my groceries online every Thursday – that’s how I buy back some time to spend with my husband and my son. It’s a life changer! It gives you work-life balance!

M&N: How old is your son?

L: He’s 15 years old. He’s a baseball player, so that’s all we do.

M&N: Even though your son is older, do you ever feel like you’re still learning to juggle that work-life balance thing with being a mom and a professional?

L: It doesn’t matter how old the kids are, you STILL struggle to find the right balance. I always struggle with that mom guilt. There’s always a sense that I’m not doing enough. Am I doing enough professionally? Am I doing enough for my family? I’m great about giving my immediate family – my husband, my son, my dog – attention. They are always my #1 priority. I struggle with striking a balance with everything else that follows, the constant balancing act is tough. You have to be purposeful. You need to make the time for what’s important.

M&N: What does your son think of you as a professional woman?

L: The idea that I’m in downtown Tampa is sooooo cool to him. With that said, I want to teach him good work ethic and that life isn’t easy–- he sees me going to work and working hard every day. Because of that, I know my son appreciates what we do for him as parents.

M&N: How do you see yourself growing in the business?

L: This is the business I want to be in and the company I want to work for. I’m so eager to learn more. For example, today I learned that the little edges sticking out of the building are called “eyebrows.” I didn’t know those were called eyebrows. It’s awesome I can keep learning and growing. I’m full speed ahead.


About the Interviewers:

Michelle McMurray is the industrial research analyst for the Tampa Bay markets, as well as the co-author of the Millennial on Millennial (blog). You can follow Michelle on Twitter @michellemccre.

 

 

Nicole Grzywacz is Operations Manager for Cushman & Wakefield’s Tampa office. She is lover of memes, track changes in Microsoft Word and #hashtags. You can follow Nicole on Twitter @Cubolak403

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