Speaking from Experience: Exploring Mentorship

June 10, 2024 | By: Mike Ghinga

Mentorship in the traditional sense is defined as guidance provided by an experienced person in a specific field or discipline. This usually involves a defined amount of time and frequency of meetings together with specific goals to accomplish.

Organizations such as BOMA Georgia have taken a less formal approach to implementing a mentorship program. Rather than formalizing a program, they provide the environment for professionals to network and build mentor-mentee relationships within the organization. Utilizing the vast experience within the organization, they are able to connect those who express desire to form relationships with others.

Over the past few months, I’ve had the privilege of interviewing some of Atlanta’s emerging CRE professionals along with their “mentors” who were pivotal in their growth. This article explores one of those conversations with Vice President of Asset Services for Transwestern, Grace Meyers speaking from her experience in mentoring Property Manager for Atlanta Property Group, Laura Redman.

I hope you enjoy reading as much as I enjoyed this interview.


Being motivated to be a mentor is driven by a genuine desire to contribute to the growth and development of others. The intrinsic satisfaction of making a positive impact on someone’s life and witnessing their progress fuels this motivation. Mentors often find fulfillment in sharing their knowledge, experiences, and insights, creating a sense of purpose and accomplishment.

Grace shared with me her motivations for being a mentor.

“I think that I’m most motivated by the opportunity to help property management professionals, and service providers as well, maximize their success in the industry,” Grace said. “I value the connection with other commercial real estate professionals, not just property management, but also service providers that are committed to our industry.”

Organizations like BOMA Georgia create the opportunities for collaboration that Grace values.

“I love to see where someone started and then watch their confidence grow and witness them get additional job opportunities and see them succeed,” said Grace. “Not just in their career, but also in their volunteer opportunities within organizations like BOMA. So, I love to see professionals succeed in their paying job, but also their volunteer opportunities in trade associations like BOMA.”

Getting Started

Grace was connected with her mentee Laura through BOMA Georgia after Laura had inquired about opportunities for mentorship within the association. BOMA Georgia’s Senior Director of Operations and Communications Jacob Wilder inquired with Grace on her availability, and then connected the two by email.

From that connection, Grace and Laura arranged for their first meeting over lunch.

“We started out by first having lunch together and just getting to know each other,” Grace recalled. “I shared about my career history, and I invited her to share hers.”

Grace invited Laura to share with her how she came into the industry, as well as what her professional goals were.

“She came very prepared to our first lunch,” Grace said. “I was so impressed. I felt like I was not as prepared as she was.”

Laura had brought a list of questions and goals that were important to her. Grace said that she knew immediately that this was a relationship that could potentially be valuable to both.

Seeing Success

It wasn’t long before Grace started seeing the results of her new professional relationship with Laura.

“She’s on fire,” exclaimed Grace. “I’ve seen her get involved in the BOMA 360 program. She put her building in the TOBY competition and did well on the local level as she moved on to regional.”

As the months of mentorship moved on, both Grace and Laura would be selected by BOMA Georgia’s leadership for a different opportunity to reconnect and serve BOMA Georgia on its 2024 Southern Region Conference Education Task Force.

“She’s a very independent young woman and does great things on her own,” said Grace. “I’m thinking she really needed me more for building relationships and support.”

Grace says that she thinks sometimes many young professionals may feel like they are not regarded as an experienced property management professional, even when they know they have the skills and experience that it takes to do the job. She sees herself in a support role to Laura to offer confirmation or be a sounding board for ideas.

What it Takes

Effective mentors should possess strong communication skills, as they need to convey ideas and guidance clearly. Empathy is another crucial component, enabling mentors to understand and connect with their mentees, fostering a supportive and trusting relationship. This includes patience and the ability to listen actively to address mentees’ concerns and facilitating their growth.

Mentors should also be adaptable. This allows mentors to tailor their approach to individual needs, while leadership and expertise in their field will show their credibility and inspire confidence in their guidance.

When asked about others that she has mentored, Grace said that she hopes they would describe her as a good listener and encourager that provides sound advice and helpful resources.

“I really pride myself on the premise of, if don’t know the answer, I can certainly help get a resource,” Grace said.

Leadership Style

Each mentor will be different. They bring with them their own experiences, skills and leadership style. That style will not always match that of the mentee.

“I strive to be a servant leader,” Grace said. “I don’t ask anything of anyone on my team that I wouldn’t be willing to do myself.”

Grace’s leadership style was heavily influenced by her career experiences rising through the ranks in the hotel industry, to a temporary job in commercial real estate, which led to administrative roles and serving as a night building manager before she landed her first property management role.

“I didn’t come in at a higher level, so I have a greater appreciation for each role on the team,” Grace said. “I’ve used that experience to help me also in my leadership style. I will look at a person’s skill set, and if they don’t have it, hopefully we can coach them through it.”

While Grace has never been officially assigned to mentor anyone, her leadership style creates natural opportunities for mentoring to occur. During her career, she has worked with several people that would move beyond her organization in their own career journey.

“It felt really good when these colleagues would reach back out to share, ‘I appreciate all that you taught me. And I feel like you’re the reason why I’ve been able to have the growth that I have.’” she said.

A Good Mentee

So far, the conversation had focused on what makes a good mentor. But, what about a good mentee?

Mentees should exhibit a proactive attitude and a genuine eagerness to learn. Taking initiative in seeking guidance, asking questions, and actively participating in discussions demonstrates a sincere commitment to personal and professional development.

“Probably number one is being an active listener,” said Grace. “You’ve got to have good listening skills, and if you’re more concerned about being heard, you’re probably going to miss a few good points. So often you’re thinking about maybe the next thing you’re going to say that you will miss something because you’re trying to get your words together.”

Grace also pointed out that mentees should carefully evaluate both their goals and objectives for their career and personal growth. She points out that having goals without objectives won’t get you anywhere. The objectives are the steps toward your goals.

Mentees must also be willing to act on the information they receive. They should be willing to volunteer and serve within their company or industry.

“If you don’t volunteer to serve or work with people that you’re not with every day in the office, you don’t receive that exposure to someone that works in different markets and benefit from a different perspective or insights,” said Grace.

Grace believes that it is important for a young person or someone who is new to the industry to embrace the power of networking. While the commercial real estate industry is vast in terms of square footage, it can feel small as well.

“It’s like everybody knows everybody, especially in this industry,” she said. “For better or for worse, don’t burn any bridges, that’s key.”

The Talent Gap

The commercial real estate industry, like most industries, is experiencing a talent gap as veteran property management and building engineering professionals retire and the next generation enters the workforce.

The unique set of skills and knowledge that is traditionally acquired through years of experience is not being passed along fast enough and is creating challenges for the workforce. Young professionals may possess a fresh perspective and technological proficiency, but they may often lack the necessary nuanced understanding of industry dynamics. Bridging this gap requires intentional efforts by the industry to implement mentorship programs, knowledge-sharing initiatives, and targeted training. Addressing this talent gap will be essential for sustaining growth and innovation in the industry while preserving the wisdom currently held by those in line for retirement.

Grace underscores this point by saying that the industry needs to get better at recruiting talent. Additionally, once this talent comes in, we must continue to find ways to expose that emerging talent to different job responsibilities earlier. She described this as a ‘tricky’ endeavor.

“It’s not an easy question to answer,” Grace said. “But as leaders, we must be willing to share our knowledge and experience and sit down to invest time in the younger professionals.”

Grace realizes that everyone is feeling stretched for their time, but being intentional to carve out the hours necessary is what it will take.

“I’ve been on the receiving side of mentorship for many years and hope that I’ll be able to give more between now and when I get to retire, whenever that is,” Grace said. “Property management is very much a customer service industry.”

As a final piece of advice for young professionals and those seeking to be mentored, Grace shared her previous experience in customer service from the hotel industry. She noted that while office tenants don’t sleep at the building overnight, they are there most of their waking hours.

“So, if you aren’t cut out for customer service and problem solving, this industry may not be for you,” she said. “You’ve got to have pretty thick skin and be able to celebrate your successes as a team because you don’t always hear it from your tenants.”

Mentorship in the dynamic world of commercial real estate plays a pivotal role in shaping the careers of aspiring professionals and fostering the success of seasoned experts. This guiding relationship between a mentor and a mentee is more than just a passing of knowledge; it can be a conduit for sharing industry insights, honing skills, and navigating the intricacies of this complex field. Individuals can not only acquire the knowledge and skills necessary for success but also gain the perspective and adaptability needed to thrive in this competitive field.

The reciprocal relationship between mentors and mentees ensures a transfer of wisdom from one generation to the next, fostering a culture of innovation and growth.

As the CRE industry continues to evolve, mentorship remains vital in bridging the gap between seasoned experts and emerging talent, as well as serving as a testament to the enduring value of shared knowledge and experience in the real estate industry.

“I’m continually reminded of the importance of paying it forward,” said Grace. “I was very fortunate to have multiple mentors in the industry. And, as a result, I have a strong desire to give back.

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