Susana Kalaj is Vice President, Portfolio Manager of SL Green Realty Corp. and is responsible for managing 3.9M sf. Susana joined SL Green in 2004 at 220 East 42nd Street and throughout her tenure with the company, she has held positions at a number of properties including1185 Avenue of the Americas, and 461 Fifth before being promoted to the position of Property Manager at 810 Seventh Avenue. At the property, Susana has been an invaluable member of the team and has taken an active role in developing tenant relations and achieving industry recognition. She led the team at 810 Seventh Avenue to win the BOMA New York 2017 Pinnacle Award in The Operating Building of the Year, 500,000-1,000,000 sf category along with the Grand Pinnacle and the 2018 MAC TOBY Award. Beyond her duty as Property Manager of 810 Seventh, Susana has helped co-train new employees since SL Green implemented an internal training program in 2015. Susana is an active member of CREW (Commercial Real Estate Women) and serves on two BOMA New York committees: Emerging Leaders Mentorship Program and Pinnacle Awards. She also obtained designations such as RPA and FMA (BOMI) and Green Associate (LEED). She has a Bachelor of Arts in English and Communications from Pace University
Katie Kindbergh has been a Property Manager with Paramount Group, Inc. at 900 Third Avenue since September 2017. She previously worked as a Property Associate at 712 Fifth Avenue for almost three years, then was promoted to Senior Property Associate in January 2017 and relocated to the company’s headquarters at 1633 Broadway. As Property Manager, her most recent projects include a lobby turnstile installation with the implementation of building access cards and a new Visitor Management Portal for 2,000 Tenants, a Cooling Tower replacement/upgrade project, Local Law 11 roof repairs, and a window rig replacement. Katie also serves on a number of committees within PGI, responsible for bidding several large contracts and selecting/implementing new uniforms for Security, Engineering and Cleaning professionals across the portfolio. Prior to joining PGI, Katie spent five years as an Intelligence Analyst for a private security company serving a wide range of industries, including commercial real estate. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Hofstra University.
Q) Katie, you have had Susana as your mentor over the past (2) two years and in the interim gained professional experience. In your own opinion, what are three important things you would communicate to someone who was green in the industry?
KK) First, it is helpful to find yourself a mentor internally or outside of your organization for support and career advice. Secondly, you should never be afraid to ask questions. There is so much to learn in this industry, but you must give yourself time to get there. And lastly, get involved as much as you can. Volunteer for projects within your company; the more you are willing to work, the more likely you are to learn. Get involved in BOMA or similar organizations. Take advantage of BOMA’s “Lunch and Learn” and other seminars that cover a whole range of topics from security issues to new elevator technologies to new building codes and DOB requirements.
Q) Has this program contributed to your network? If so, please explain how.
SK) Absolutely! This dynamic program led me to meet my mentee and a number of different people within the industry. I have gained new professional relationships and valuable resources.
KK) This program has exposed me to other inspiring young professionals who are just as motivated and eager to learn. Having competitive peers within this field keeps you focused and ahead of the game.
Q) Please explain your team’s use of the program and what made it successful.
SK) Reliable communication is what makes this program successful. Katie and I have met in person however, we feel corresponding through e-mail has been the easiest form of communication and super helpful for quick feedback. We check in about once a week or more if needed.
KK) I agree with Susana! To add to her response, your relationship with your partner needs a solid foundation where there is a level of trust. Now working with Susana for the past two years has strengthened our relationship and given us the opportunity to share each others successes. With that said, I would recommend maintaining the same mentor during the duration of the program.
Q) Do you think its beneficial to team up mentors with mentees only outside of their own company? Was this beneficial to your process, if so, how?
SK) Yes, I agree with that. I think the value in the program lies in meeting people outside of your organization and within the industry whom you wouldn’t normally reach out to. It’s creating a more integrated community where people can share ideas and guidance in a positive environment outside of their own organization.
Q) Susana, what do you hope Katie gains from this process?
SK) My hope for Katie and any mentee who enters this program is that they utilize their mentor as an additional resource to provide them with someone to turn to for guidance. I always found it incredibly valuable to bounce ideas and/or questions off numerous people before any decision on a matter is made. Having a mentor is a total extension of that.
Q) If you could change anything about the program, what would it be?
(SK & KK) No change. We would suggest surveys are periodically sent out to all participants to identify any suggestions or concerns they may have in order to make the program more robust and effective.