Emerging Leaders: An Interview with Theresa Nguyen

June 1, 2023 | By: Theresa Nguyen

Theresa Nguyen is a property management and sustainability coordinator / executive assistant at Jamestown in Atlanta, Georgia. Prior to joining Jamestown in 2020, Theresa worked at Transwestern, a commercial leasing company, as an administrative associate, and before that, at Selig Enterprises, another commercial real estate company, as a leasing & marketing assistant. CRE Insight Journal at down with Theresa to discuss her experience in the industry, and these are her responses.

How did you enter the industry?

Honestly, I very much “fell into” CRE after I was placed by a recruiter into an administrative role at a commercial real estate company located in Midtown over a decade ago supporting the vice president of easing for the Southeast region. I was very lucky in that that particular supervisor always took time out of their busy schedule to help me build my knowledge of CRE from the ground up.

What was your first impression of it?

Like most people who first enter the CRE world, I think it’s surprising to learn how much goes on behind the scenes at your typical office or retail building. I don’t think the average person may be aware of how many lines of business there are within CRE whether that’s leasing, property management, engineering, sustainability just to name a few.

How has your impression changed?

I started off working in leasing and was initially unaware of how many different moving parts there are to ensure that daily building operations run smoothly. Aside from daily operations, and depending on the owner’s financial long-term goals for a particular building, there’s almost always the underlying mission to increase the value of the asset which I think those different lines of business mentioned earlier ultimately should have as their overarching goal. I think seeing it from that perspective has changed my impression of the industry to be broader and more “big picture.”

What have you learned?

I’ve learned over time that CRE is very much people-based. A building will only run as well as the property management team who’s running it and tenants also play a huge role in helping the property run as optimally as possible and their relationships are interdependent. I also learned that in CRE, as in probably all other business sectors, those who are the most successful in the industry are those who remain curious not just about their own subject of expertise but subjects that surround and overlap theirs.

What have you enjoyed most about CRE?

What I’ve enjoyed the most is getting to work with and learning from some of the most intelligent and hardest working professionals in the CRE industry including my primary supervisor, Derrick Brown, director of property management for Jamestown who has been a wealth of knowledge for me over the last few years.

Also, the opportunity to work for a company like Jamestown these past three years makes me realize how fortunate I am to get to work for such a progressive company that truly cares about the communities their properties are located in and gives back in a way that is really inspirational to its employees.

What was the biggest challenge you faced as you entered the industry, how did you overcome it?

I think the preliminary lack of knowledge was the biggest obstacle initially which was overcome by asking a lot of questions along with firsthand experience, and I’m still learning something new everyday. It can feel intimidating to ask seemingly basic questions, but in actuality, those who are experts in their field love to talk about their experiences and share their knowledge. You rarely have to ask them twice to do so.

What should someone just entering the industry know?

I think those just entering the industry should know how important it is to be a sponge for information, especially when first starting out in CRE. For myself at least, it seemed as if there were a million acronyms and industry terms. It can sometimes feel like everyone is speaking another language, but slowly over time, and the more you are able to listen in and sit in on operational meetings, the easier it becomes to make connections and the more the pieces of the puzzle come together.

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