by: We Rise and Shine
It’s no secret that Commercial Real Estate is an industry that is dominated by men, but Shana Schott has not allowed the statistics to intimidate her as she continues to make strides in her career as a General Manager/Property Manager for Gateway Facility. Over the past few years, Shana has executed the vision for builders and investors with the goal of developing Atlanta into a thriving and major city. Schott manages commercial properties from conception to the time they break ground and residents begin to move in. I had the opportunity to chat with Shana to find out why she chose her career path and discuss the driving force behind her success. Here’s what she had to say:
We Rise and Shine: How did you get your start in commercial real estate?
Shana: I attended Georgia State, and initially majored in real estate. Eventually, I changed my major to sociology, and minored in gender and sexuality as well as Urban Real Estate. I kept telling myself “a degree will not determine what I do.” After graduation I got into the management side of real estate, but I was looking for research positions. I landed a job as a Leasing Manager for seven months, and then I was promoted to General Manager/Property Manager. I drove by one of my old projects today, and I remember sitting out front praying over it because my nerves were bad. People were asking me so many different questions and I remember thinking “Oh my God!” When I drove by the property today I smiled and thought, “look at how things work out.
We Rise and Shine: How many people are on your staff? What are the different roles of your team members?
Shana: There are usually 7-10 people on staff, including myself. There is an Leasing Assistant Manager, and we have a full-time consultant, who is there when you walk through the door. The consultants are the eyes and ears of the community, they’re supposed to remember everybody’s name and know who goes where. We also have part-time student’s who’s schedule I’ll work around for a semester, and five part-time assistants (PAs). The PAs are full-time students who work the community as well. In addition to the students, there are three engineers who work through the property and ensure everything is working properly. Lastly, we have officers who live on the property and keep the peace around the community.
We Rise and Shine: What do you think is the most challenging part of your job?
Shana: The most challenging part of my job that I’ve discovered so far is keeping up with the demand that people have for our product. We have only been open for two months, and have already filled our office space. In terms of completing the units, leasing a property at 80% in two months is unheard of. We’re getting people in the door faster than I can get them in the system. The other challenge is training my staff on accountability and caring about each other. That’s why it works, because the energy is great; it’s not just a job.
We Rise and Shine: You mentioned that you are typically the only woman in a lot of the meetings you attend, do you ever encounter any discrimination or notice a difference in how you are treated?
Shana: The only time I feel that someone notices that I am the only woman there, is when they (male counterparts) are being nice and hold the elevator door for me, or instead of throwing the pen across the table as they do with the other gentleman, they will walk over and hand it to me. That’s the only difference, when they are being polite. I do feel that initially, they think I’m a lot younger than I am until we start working.
We Rise and Shine: What is most rewarding about your job?
Shana: The most rewarding part is doing something that I absolutely love. It is challenging at times, but I enjoy it. My heart beats fast when I’m talking about my job, I get excited! To me it’s like art, it is my way of creative expression. Secondly, I enjoy working with college students and having such a direct impact on them. I tell them that they might not remember me in 10 years or even two years, but the lesson behind this you will always remember. The students still keep in touch, I am on my fourth property and I still get calls and text messages from students I hired for my first property. Another great aspect is being able to see this beautiful piece of architecture that I helped create. Of course my kids and being able to take care of them is rewarding as well. Three years ago, you couldn’t have told me that I would be able to take my kids on family vacations and not need any help from somebody else. I’m so thankful!
We Rise and Shine: What advice would you give to someone trying to break into your industry?
Shana: In any form of real estate there are some people who are so cut throat, but in commercial real estate you have the opportunity to make a lot of money. So the biggest piece of advice I would give to anyone who is interested in my line of work is don’t do it for the money. If you do it for the money you’ll be destroyed by it; it will take over your morals and your reputation is everything. Do it because you love architecture, designing, and you absolutely love the process of creating and developing community.