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Administrative Support Professional of the Year, Tonirae Gorcie, NALP, Asset Plus


How did it feel when they called your name?


Did the smile from ear to ear not tell it all? This past year I have truly worked on developing my career, and I am so thankful that my hard work has been noticed by so many people! What an overwhelming moment to experience!


How did you get started in the industry, and how long have you been involved with the multifamily industry? I got started in the property management industry on November 1, 2008, while living at an Asset Campus Student Housing Community during my college career at Texas Tech University. I received a notice on my door that my community was hiring for a leasing position. I called the office, and the next day I had an interview. I started a week later. Upon graduation in August 2010, I had my heart set on moving back home to Houston. Luckily the Asset Plus corporate office had a marketing opening, and I have been fortunate enough to serve as the marketing specialist.


What is your favorite part about your job? It is very important to not only like the people you work with, but you have to love them! I work with the absolute hands-down best team members every day, and I am so glad to be part of the Asset Plus family. But as a marketing gal, my favorite part about my job is visiting our properties and hitting the streets – more specifically, creating relationships with local businesses and learn- ing more about the market. I love training on-site team members and being back on the leasing front lines with the true property management heroes.


What’s the craziest thing that’s happened to you since you’ve worked in the industry? In property management, I think we can all agree that our definition of crazy is different than the average meaning. Of all of the student housing turns, property tours, “normal days” in the office and property take-overs I have experienced, the craziest thing that has happened to me has been rescuing two puppies and a litter of kittens from a drainage ditch. The team and I found the animals in poor condition and felt it was our responsibility to clean them up and find them a new home. This is a perfect example of how property managers wear multiple hats on a daily basis – customer service goes beyond just the people!


What does a typical day entail for you? Is this a trick question? I am the queen of to-do lists, so the typical day for me consists of creating a to-do list and tackling it – while adding to it throughout the day, of course! I provide support to our properties for marketing and training and everything in between. Some days you can find me following up on work orders at our properties, others you can find me preparing my Tuesday Tips and monthly marketing webinars.


Who were some of your mentors, and what effect did their guidance have on you? A great boss and mentor is someone who is willing to see you succeed just as they have, sharing all that they know and more to get you where you would like to be. Three very important people deserve endless credit for where I am in my career today. Kim Sloan, my property manager at Gateway at Lubbock is an unbelievable woman who has sent many of her employees to go above and beyond in the industry. Joe Goodwin, the vice president of marketing for Asset Campus Housing, has recommended, guided and supported me throughout my entire journey in property management. And my most valued mentor, Stephanie Graves, has encouraged and motivated me beyond measure during the last two years as her team member.


What role has HAA played in your career? From designation courses to APPLE classes to industry events and even inviting me to teach Leasing 101, HAA has been a valuable resource for creating relationships, making friendships and sharing what I know with prospective property management superstars. Without HAA, I would not have the designations and personal achievements that I have earned thus far.


free apartment, too, because I knew that as an assistant manager, I was going to get a free apartment out at that property (in Georgetown, north of Austin), so it worked out well for me. Billig: A little bit of a combination of all the above. I was going to


school, so it was a perfect part-time job, made next to zero working weekends and really found out that the sales thing worked for me, but just over the years realized the dynamics of residents and the dynamics in your office and supervisors and owners and vendors and people – every day is truly different, and I always tell people … I get to dabble in budgets and financial projections, marketing, sales – just so many differ- ent things. If I’m bored in one area, which happens quite a bit, OK, well now I’m going to focus on another area because there’s always some- thing that you can be doing.


How has the business changed during your careers? Obviously technology is a big factor, but what are some of the other issues that you see trending? Billig: I can say I’ve seen more of a shift from … here is your contract


in black and white, to you know what? Maybe there is such a thing as customer service in this industry, and maybe our technology and poli- cies and the way we act ought to reflect that. So not only are the newer products kind of gearing toward the Y generation and beyond, but just our whole philosophy. If someone’s late, that’s fine. We still have rules to follow, but I see more of a respect factor. Rose: I think we’re catching up with the times. You can pay online. For


how long did someone try to pay with a credit card and we didn’t take credit cards? I think we’re just finally kind of catching up and we’re not so behind the rest of the world, and we don’t feel like – you know, your image of an apartment manager, to me, was someone who smoked in their office and yelled at people all day. And now we’re really sort of respected as an industry. For a while, saying, “I’m an apartment manager,” almost felt strange,


because people would be like, “Oh, you lease apartments.” There’s so much more to it, and I feel like maybe people are starting to understand the dynamic of it – that you really are running a multimillion-dollar business on a daily basis and not just kicking people out for not paying their rent. Billig: Yeah, we just do that for fun. (laughter) Gregg: I think it’s also kind of cool seeing the on-site staffs taking more


ownership of the properties these days than they did back when I was on site. When I was on site, a lot of my supervisors would tell me what I needed to do, pretty much, and I wasn’t really given a whole lot of leash to go out and do what I felt would be best for the property. These days, though, the on-site staffs – and that goes all the way from the porters and housekeepers up to the manager – they seem to take, at least in my company, a real ownership in the day-to-day operations because they know a lot of their bonuses are tied to that, and so they understand budgets and what’s going to make the property run best. They understand the responsibility they have to the owners to produce. Billig: Well, and that’s probably the difference between – I don’t want


to say the good and the bad, but – the good and the bad. Those that take ownership and those that wait for a directive. Gregg: Yeah, I agree. It seems like we have more leaders on site now


than we had back when I was on site. Rose: And I think there’s a relationship between – we fee-manage


everything in Houston – but there’s a relationship between myself and the ownership. Before, you didn’t have that liaison. It was just the supervisor only who talked to the owner. And now, he’ll call the proper- ty, and our company has confidence that our people on site can have a


48 AUGUST 2012 ABODE


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