Get to Know...
"There are so many different skill sets and personality types that can find their niche in commercial real estate."
As a real estate manager for CBRE, Cynthia Brown oversees a 4.5 million-square-foot portfolio consisting of office, medical, industrial and retail space located in Indianapolis and surrounding markets. One of the buildings she managed achieved the BOMA 360 Performance Program designation in 2016. Brown is actively involved in BOMA/Indianapolis, and she also is a member of BOMA International’s Emerging Professionals Committee and Industrial Committee. Brown brings her experience to BOMA International’s Executive Committee, which she was elected to in June.
How did you first become involved with BOMA?
I joined BOMA in 2014, right as I was changing careers from residential to commercial property management. Early on, I participated in a mentor program through BOMA/Indianapolis that matched me with our then-president, who really encouraged me to become more involved in our BOMA local association.
I’m naturally an introvert and, in the past, I found it challenging to introduce myself to new people. Thankfully, BOMA members are so warm and welcoming, and being involved helped me connect with many others in the industry. I began looking more and more to BOMA to help me with different aspects of my career—from building a network to professional development.
What are you most excited about as a new member of the Executive Committee?
I’m particularly looking forward to working with the other members of the committee and collaborating with people who bring different perspectives on the industry. One area I am particularly passionate about is highlighting the philanthropic work being done by commercial real estate professionals. BOMA/Indianapolis has an active committee devoted to philanthropic work, and I know that other BOMA local associations across the United States are also very involved in giving back to the community. I’d like to showcase that work being done and grow those efforts even more.
As property managers, we are already invested in our local communities through our work, and I believe giving back to our communities is a natural extension of that.
You also are a member of the Emerging Professionals Committee. Do you find that your perspective on the industry differs from someone who has been in commercial real estate for decades? If so, how?
I consider myself a "senior millennial." Using technology comes fairly naturally to me, but I can easily remember when we were all still using landlines and fax machines and doing all of our research at the library. Rapid changes in technology are my status quo, so I’m open to adopting new innovations. That said, I am not quite a "digital native," so I can also understand the perspectives of many of the Gen Xers and baby boomers that I work with.
What advice would you give to someone who is considering a career in commercial real estate?
I would highly recommend it. There are so many different skill sets and personality types that can find their niche in commercial real estate. Most of us fall into this industry by accident, which means we come from a wide range of backgrounds. I’m sure if you looked at a list of the college majors of people in this industry, you’d see everything from philosophy to accounting.
There’s never a boring day in this job; every morning brings a new opportunity or an interesting challenge. I even love budget season! Every year, I get to research and plan out new projects or capital improvements and help make recommendations to our owners. I’m a budget nerd.
When you’re starting to think about your career in high school and college, there are so many jobs that you simply don’t know anything about. We’re beginning to see a greater number of universities and colleges develop real estate programs, and I am glad that young people are learning about these career options early on.
What is something that most people don’t know about you?
I’m a bit of a thrill seeker! I love to scuba dive, particularly in challenging environments like the sinkholes called cenotes in Mexico and the Great Blue Hole in Belize. I’ve even seen sharks while scuba diving. I’ve also tried skydiving and would love to do it again.
This article was originally published in the September/October 2018 issue of BOMA Magazine.