Get to Know...
Susan Hammer BOMI-HP, LEED AP O+M, RPA
"I think BOMA International has done a fantastic job providing up-to-the-minute resources to help BOMA members navigate these unprecedented times."
Susan Hammer is a 35-year veteran of the commercial real estate industry. As a vice president and general manager with JLL, she is responsible for overseeing the firm’s property management services for AMA Plaza, a 1.1 million-square-foot multitenant office building in Chicago. Hammer has served as chair of BOMA/Chicago’s Education Committee, as well as co-chair of BOMA/Chicago’s The Outstanding Building of the Year® (TOBY®) Awards Committee for more than a decade. She also serves as a TOBY Awards judge on the regional and international levels and was co-vice chair of BOMA International’s Awards Committee prior to being appointed to the Executive Committee in June.
How did you get started in commercial real estate and with BOMA?
Frankly, I needed a job and I serendipitously landed one at a commercial real estate firm many years ago. It didn’t take long for me to realize this is exactly what I wanted to do, so I set out to learn everything possible about commercial property management. That search led me to BOMA/Chicago, and soon I wasn’t just taking classes there, I was teaching them! In addition to an MBA, I have a degree in education, so it’s fitting that I wound up as chair of my BOMA local association’s Education Committee, and I still teach courses today.
You’re also very involved in the TOBY Awards. How did that come about?
That’s just my personality—show me a competition that I don’t want to be involved with! But, on a serious note, I learned throughout my career that the TOBY Awards program exhibits a property professional’s commitment to defining and showcasing operational excellence. When my own team took home a BOMA International TOBY Award in 2016 after years of hard work, including earning the BOMA 360 Performance Program designation back in 2009, I saw how gratifying it was for our staff to be recognized for their achievements. Plus, I think the TOBY Awards program drives innovation, which elevates the property management profession itself and, ultimately, leads to tenant and owner satisfaction.
How have TOBY Awards competitions adjusted in the age of COVID-19?
This is a pivotal time, not only for the commercial real estate industry, but also for BOMA. I think BOMA International’s recent strategic plan is extremely comprehensive, and it also allows for flexibility and adaptation as we navigate these new challenges. That said, I think it’s always a good time to advance the industry. I’m all about that. So, we’ll continue to do so through education, recruitment of talent and, most importantly, diversity and inclusion efforts as we focus on the future. I think BOMA International has done a fantastic job providing up-to-the-minute resources to help BOMA members navigate these unprecedented times.
What is your leadership advice to others managing a team right now?
First off, leaders should be constant learners and lead by example. It’s also important that they cultivate an environment of trust and independence so that employees can flourish and create their own building management style, hopefully incorporating the best parts of their mentor’s style.
What’s something most people don’t know about you?
My sister and I own a farm in Kansas that has been in our family for more than 130 years. I’m also a vegan, which explains why I cried inconsolably as a child visiting my grandparents at the farm on a day the cattle were sent to market.
This article was originally published in the September/October 2020 issue of BOMA Magazine.