I have been in property management for 16 years. During this time, I have managed residential buildings, commercial office buildings, and retail strip centers. Throughout my career, I always dove in with both feet. I became involved in national industry organizations. I obtained designations that pertained to my career. I even gained enough confidence to pursue a graduate degree. I was making my mark, yet, I kept running into the same struggle—I was a woman in a “men’s key club” industry. Although real estate and property management have come a long ways in that time, I realized the road blocks in front of me were great. I found that the struggle was overcoming my love and passion for what I did. I just wanted to be who I was—a woman with a passion for serving others and being able to look at a building and think, “I’m a part of that”.

A year ago, I was offered my dream job. I was asked to be the property manager overseeing the facilities department for Omaha Performing Arts. This form of property management was very different than what I was accustomed to. Not only would I be following up on the maintenance of the buildings, but I would be responsible with overseeing the event set-up and housekeeping process during shows. This offer combined my love for the arts with my experience and love for property management. It really couldn’t get much better. However, the idea of changing industries was a little overwhelming. Even though I would still be doing the work of a property manager, I would also have new responsibilities and, even scarier, I didn’t know anyone in the industry. In the real estate industry that I started in, I could practically call anyone because of my networking connections and get answers or support. By making the choice to move on, I would have to start over, I would even have to look at obtaining new designations.

My new supervisor pointed me to IAVM. I immediately became a member and signed up for a mentor the moment I found out about the IAVM Mentor Connector Program. This was the best thing I could have done. By obtaining a coach and a mentor in Kevin Spence, CFE, I was making my first connections in this new and incredible industry, but I was already setting a foundation for my future. From here we set some goals and the biggest one was to attend a conference. Now, I had plenty of conference experiences and I knew from my previous experiences that your first couple of conferences can be lonely because you are still meeting people. However, I didn’t let this scare me. I attended my first Performing Arts Managers Conference in San Antonio, Texas. Upon arrival, I prepared myself for my week, marked which seminars I would attend, and planned what I would do at night on my own. Then the most amazing thing happened. In my first seminar, I sat down and I was greeted so warmly by a fellow IAVM member. Then another, and another, then an IAVM vendor. It went on and on. I began to look around the room, and I noticed that there were people in all different kinds of attire, all different walks of life, and even all different colors of hair. Suddenly, I felt at home. What took me years to establish with my prior industry organization that I was actively involved with on a local and national level, I was able to establish in a matter of a few hours with IAVM! That night, I spent an evening with new friends who taught me so much and who I cannot wait to see at the next conference even though we keep in touch on the side.

I am an outgoing person, but even the most outgoing person can be intimidated by seasoned and recognized professionals. The difference between IAVM and what I had come to know from is that each IAVM member is out for the success of everyone, not just themselves. It goes beyond an organization. It is a family. The IAVM family is designed to help professionals give the general public the best venue experience possible. If you are intimidated by jumping in with both feet, then dip your toe in. Get a mentor and a coach. It’s the start that I needed to realize I was a part of something much bigger than just an organization, I was now a part of the IAVM family. FM

The IAVM Mentor Connector Program is offered twice each year, in April and October. Each mentoring partnership runs for a 12-month cycle. Apply any time during the year. You will be enrolled in the next available mentoring cycle.

(Image: aka Tman/Creative Commons)