The above is the fantastic advice that new AATC Board of Directors member Jeina Parker, Regional Property Manager, Pinnacle, would give someone considering a career in the multifamily housing industry. Wish someone had told me that when I started in this business!
To help you get to know Jeina a little better, AATC asked her about her professional experience, education, life outside the industry, and most importantly, why she spells her name that way!
So, tell us about the spelling of your first name: So, I spelled my name “Jena” until I was sixteen and I needed my birth certificate to get my driver’s license. It was then I discovered my mother, had added an “I’ in a name that never really needed an “I”. She said she didn’t know why she did it. The hospital must have given her some strong pain medication.
Where were you born and raised? I was born and raised right here in Fort Worth! I did spend eight years living in Maryland and I love the East Coast, but I am always a Texan first.
How long have you worked in the multifamily industry and how did you get started? I started working in property management in 1996 in Odenton, MD. I was in mortgage banking for years and I really was very unhappy, so I quit my job and started leasing apartments in Odenton, MD. I had always loved floorplans and apartments; I was the weirdo that use to shop properties just to see what they looked like before I was ever in the business. It was a perfect fit!
What is the most rewarding aspect of the multifamily industry? There are so many rewards and gifts you receive in this business, but my favorite is helping a team member grow into their dream job or meet their career goals. I’ve been the person that came in this business just looking for a different job. I luckily had someone ask me questions related to my goals and ideas for my future and was mentored and encouraged in this career I now love.
What is the funniest thing that has happen to you in property management? When I first started as a leasing consultant, the manger handed me the keys to the golf cart to show an apartment up at the top of the very steep street that ran through the community. I had never even been on a golf cart, much less driven one. Coming down that hill at top speed and making a turn into the leasing center without using the brakes was scary, but the kid on the back was super excited, so we all cracked up laughing when we realized we all made it through it alive.
What do you know now that you wish you knew when you started in this industry? What a profound effect you can have on people that live at your community, and how they too can change your perspective on life. I have a property that has accepted refuges for years as their first place to live in the US and it has been an amazing experience.
Who have been your mentors and how have they influenced your life? I find creative people such as writers, song writers and artists very inspiring; they can convey a different perspective on ordinary life, opening your mind to different possibilities. But professionally, my first boss as a multifamily supervisor had an amazing ability to bring teams together and create this positive energy and culture. It’s hard to do, but she was a gifted and natural leader and I always aspire to create that within my teams.
What is the best professional advice you have received? My first supervisor in my RPM role told me once to never let an owner/client be surprised. It was a simple sentence, and today we refer to that as transparency, but it has a lot of weight, I think. Things happen and knowing how to communicate the information is something we are responsible for. Surprises in property management are not really that great.
Tell us about your family? My immediate family is pretty hairy, with one 10-year-old Labrador named Bella and two rescue cats, Ollie and Pixie. My parents both live close by as does one sister. I have another sister that lives out of state and many nieces, nephews and great nieces and nephews.
What do you like to do when you’re not at work? I am a long-time fan of Stephen King and collect and read all his books, but I love to read any good fiction. I love road trips, pet rescue, (or really anything to do with being close to any animal), decorating my home, working in my flower beds and spending time with my friends.
What does it take to be an excellent leader? I think you first must be doing something you love and feel passionate about. If that is there, you will already be halfway there; patience, empathy, direction, shared goals and the ability to listen are all important to leading teams to great things!
How has your CAPS designation made you a better multifamily professional? I think the designation shows a commitment to myself and our industry. In order to maintain the designation, I must continue to invest in myself through courses and classes.
What education classes had the greatest impact on you? I loved Psychology but the greatest impact for me was a company initiated and instructor led financial class I took when I first became a manager. I was able to quickly understand how I had a direct impact on the financial health of my property, and not only did I feel connected to the company, I felt empowered.
If you could teach a class at AATC, what would it be and why? It would probably be a basic financial class for managers with little to no financial knowledge because that is the first class, I remember that made a big difference for me. But I also like budgets and organizing!
How has your involvement with AATC, AAGD, TAA, & NAA professionally and personally benefited you? I feel a stronger connection and responsibility to all my peers, partners and the people we serve.
Jeina has certainly lived her advice. She is an awesome person and industry professional. Be sure to never get in a golf cart she is driving, unless, it is at an AATC golf tournament!