Get to Know...
"The Technology Committee is here to help members filter through the options and make strategic decisions for their properties."
As senior vice president and chief technology officer for Akridge, based in Washington, D.C., Tommy Russo oversees the company’s technology team to support development, property management and building engineering. He is the current chair of BOMA International’s Technology Committee.
How did you get started in the industry?
I started out as an electrician working on Akridge buildings. They asked me to come on full time, and I took a job as a building engineer. I was in that role for a year before deciding I wanted to do something more on the property management side, so they offered me a job running their IT systems. From there, I eventually worked my way up to chief technology officer.
I thrive on the opportunity to solve a problem, and my background as a former electrician has served me well over the years. At the end of the day, even the most technologically advanced building is just a big system of wires and switches.
When did you first get involved with BOMA?
I was asked to come speak about inbuilding wireless internet at one of BOMA’s education events. Helping people better understand technology is something I’m very passionate about, and I could tell BOMA International, as an organization, was passionate about helping its members understand technology, too. I also had the opportunity early on to meet BOMA International President Henry Chamberlain, and I loved his enthusiasm for technology and education, as anyone who knows him or has seen his State of the Industry address at BOMA International’s annual conference can attest.
"The Technology Committee is here to help members filter through the options and make strategic decisions for their properties." As the chair of BOMA International’s Technology Committee, can you talk about the kind of work the committee does?
Many property professionals are experiencing technology overload. There are so many options out there that it’s easy to just throw up your hands and avoid making a decision. The Technology Committee is here to help members filter through the options and make strategic decisions for their properties. Just last year, we conducted a survey of members’ technology practices and analyzed the results. We’re also serving as a resource to other areas of BOMA, such as education.
How does BOMA International help members navigate new technology?
I think the biggest way BOMA does this is simply by connecting members and vendors. The trade show floor at BOMA International’s annual conference, for example, is an incredible way for members to get a quick, comprehensive look at what the industry is offering in terms of technology. Members can also reach out to their BOMA network for advice and recommendations on technology options, which is incredibly valuable.
BOMA’s education also plays a big role in helping keep members apprised of new technology, particularly through webinars, BOMA local association events and the education sessions at the annual conference. And, I’ve seen some great in-depth articles in BOMA Magazine on tech trends. Of course, I might be a little biased—I’ve been quoted in a few of them.
What is something that most people don’t know about you?
I live on a farm! I raise pigs, sheep and chickens and grow crops. We even have beehives. I love teaching my kids the value of hard work through the farm. My son is responsible for the lambs and my daughter is responsible for the pigs. They know where all their food comes from and the hard work that goes into it. Also, having fresh eggs for breakfast every morning is a big benefit.