GET TO KNOW YOUR BOARD:
Q&A WITH SHARON HART, CPM, RPA
Account Director, Global Occupier Services
Cushman & Wakefield
BOMA New York
How long have you been a BOMA New York member and how did you first get involved with the Association?
I moved to New York from Dallas. Already a BOMA member, I knew that I had to get involved to expand my network and gain important market information. I initially joined Southern CT BOMA and then transitioned to Westchester BOMA. When my professional responsibilities had me spending most of my time in NYC, I switched to BOMA New York.
What is your favorite BOMA New York event and why?
I love the holiday party! Apart from being the most festive time of year (which I love), it’s the event when we announce the Scholarships, and that is such an important part of our Association.
Regardless of age, when you’re new to the industry, it’s important to immerse yourself in the industry and learn as much as you can about building mechanics and operations.
BOMA New York recognizes that continued education can be a challenge for many to budget, therefore the Association offers the Scholarship opportunity for those that want to further their career and not worry about the associated cost.
As a daughter of an educator, I am a big believer that self-improvement via education and knowledge base learning is a great equalizer. Knowledge brings power and power gets a seat at the table.
It’s clear that continued education is important to you via the investment you’ve made in your career. What continued education program has benefited your career the most?
BOMA’s educational program administered through BOMI with local instructors are indispensable for members of the CRE industry. I found that the operational and mechanical courses provided me with an excellent foundation, especially because I lean to the financial side of the business.
It is critical to understand the buildings you manage, along with the systems that need to be maintained and operated. The BOMI courses provide a wealth of information and establishes a new level of appreciation for the people who work as Engineers and Mechanics, as well as our valued vendors.
You’ve been fortunate to work for Cushman & Wakefield for more than 14-years, with exposure to great companies such as PepsiCo and New York Life Insurance Company. In 2019, your team won the Corporate Facility Pinnacle Award for NY Life’s 51 Madison Avenue. What was the nomination process like and what did the win do for the collective team?
The nomination process was simple. 51 Madison Avenue was nominated by a vendor and then the hard work began. We completed detailing the required information on the facility. While the process was lengthy, it was very rewarding. Our team came together with our respective knowledge of the corporate culture and services, coupled with the many building specifications of the facility to diligently prepare the building to compete.
I cannot express how rewarding it was for our client, Dan Davitt, Senior Director at NY Life, to accept the TOBY award. He was generous in his praise for our team and grateful for the successful relationship between C&W and New York Life Insurance Company.
You became PepsiCo’s Account Director 14-months ago. Since you joined that account, PepsiCo went from 10 properties to 49 properties throughout North America. What was it like drinking from the firehose and how did you add value through their growth?
When C&W was initially engaged by PepsiCo, there was a sense it was a “trial run”. Accordingly, our leadership team wisely placed seasoned C&W management executives on the account. In addition, we were fortunate to have an amazing team of onsite staff who had previously been PepsiCo associates. They provided the institutional knowledge, insight, and talent we needed to be productive.
PepsiCo had great foresight to retain C&W prior to their explosive real estate growth. They knew that they would benefit from the C&W culture and a dedicated playbook for each site. The other two ingredients that helped minimize growing pains was proactive training at each facility and being present. I personally flew to all 49 properties, recognizing that every property needed the same level of attention and each with their own specialized playbook to be successful.
The C&W team rose to the occasion every time PepsiCo added another site to the MSA and enjoyed the mutual rewards from the effective collaboration. I am grateful to be a part of the PepsiCo work family.
BOMA New York is a rare industry association that has empowered women at multiple professional levels. Please explain the importance of diversity and inclusion within the workspace and industry.
I have heard that it is rare to see women in the CRE industry. However, I have always worn professional blinders and simply blazed my own path. That said, BOMA New York has always provided me with connections, mentors, and vendors who value people as people – regardless of race, gender, and the like. At BOMA New York, it is our responsibility as leaders to uphold and continue the importance of inclusion in the workplace so that all people of all backgrounds always feel welcome and included.
The only focus should be on talent and knowledge, as well as a shared recognition that we are all part of the human race.
How do you inspire and motivate your team and what is your advice to someone starting out in the commercial real estate industry?
I gain as much inspiration from my team as I give to them. I strive to create an environment where every member of the team not only has a voice but is also heard. Listening and implementing people’s suggestions is a valuable tool. Each moment is a learning experience. Further, these invaluable encounters illustrate that I genuinely believe in my team members, all of whom have the ability to positively impact the group and asset.
In addition to your dedication to BOMA New York, IREM, and the collective CRE industry, you play an active role in volunteering for special cause issues. You are on the board of GiGi’s Playhouse and Literacy Volunteers of the Tarrytowns. What does the importance of giving back mean to you?
My mother was an educator, so the value of learning has been ingrained since I was a child. As a result and when I moved to New York, I wanted to spend time volunteering in a way that was directly meaningful to people’s lives. At Literacy Volunteers of the Tarrytowns, I tutored people who were learning English as a Second Language. I enjoyed the many successes our learners had as they improved their literacy skills.
Once I had children of my own and a daughter who has Down syndrome, my focus included programs that offered services and social opportunities for people like her. I discovered a unique and special place called GiGi’s Playhouse in NYC nine years ago. I’ve been active in fundraising and serve on their Board. Several years ago, GiGi’s opened another playhouse in my neighborhood of Ardsley, NY and I serve on that Board as well. It is an organization that my daughter, myself and our entire family are grateful for. It is an honor to work with so many amazing people, especially since GiGi’s has been instrumental in my daughter’s integration and success.
When you are not working and volunteering, what do you enjoy doing with your spare time?
I love to read! My husband teases me – when he can’t find me anywhere else – he knows I am sitting in my favorite chair reading a book.
What’s your favorite book and favorite movie?
I have many favorite books. One that resonates most is “The English Patient”. It is well written and a great example of human compassion (despite nationality and allies).
My favorite movie is an old movie, “Holiday Inn”. For laughs, you can’t beat “My Cousin Vinny”.