SFive Consulting is excited to announce the continuation of our "#LadiesWhoLead in Property Management" series. Our goal is to help our clients, colleagues and followers gain insight on career paths and showcase stories that will empower our future generation. This will be the place to stop if you are also just looking for inspiration from female leadership. These ladies are paving the way and their stories are too good not to share!
This series is hosted and written by SFive's contributing writer, Yardayna Ben-Simon.
Name: Monica Morgan
Title: President & Founder
Company: The Pivotal Companies
Currently Reading: Take Care of Your People: The Enlightened CEO's Guide to Business Success by Paul J. Sarvadi
Question 1: Tell me a little bit about your current position? What was your path leading up to your current position?
I started in property management in 1997 as a leasing agent in the conventional sector. I immediately had a passion for the industry and stuck with it, I mean let’s face it, it sucks you in! I stayed in the conventional sector until 2001, and then in 2001 I got my first position on a student housing deal for a new property management company out of Athens, Georgia. That experience launched me from the multifamily conventional world to the student housing sector. I was fascinated and craved the energy in the student housing world. I’m one of the crazy people that loves student housing, as it has been my experience that folks love it or hate it. There’s never a dull moment for sure. Now, 20 years later, here I am!
I’ve served the majority of my career and tenure in the student housing sector, but had opportunities and times where I did help friends in the conventional sector as well, rounding out The Pivotal Companies as a full one stop shop for all things property management. After building my career and climbing the corporate ladder, I took a leap of faith and ventured out on my own. Since my kids were out of college and settling into their adult lives, I thought, “now is my time--for Monica.”
In August of 2018, I decided to start my own company taking a leap of faith, letting go of my weekly paychecks and benefits, which was scary as hell, however, I am so glad that I did. It was the best moment in my career and decision I could’ve made for myself. I am creative and was finding solutions for problems in the student housing world that no one else could offer with the same experience as myself or my team. My team and I are all veterans in the student housing sector, and have all been very successful.
Since launching my business, The Pivotal Companies has had or wanted to pivot here or there, fine tuning the services we offer, as well as creating action plans that are executable. The evolution of my company that has occurred has been due to increased awareness and need for seasoned veterans of the industry to be able to share and offer services that are not only measurable, but that produce results. We have evolved so that Pivotal Companies is the one-stop-shop for pretty much any service in the property management industry.
What I thought I would be doing and what I ended up doing, were not the same thing. It wasn’t a bad thing, it was just different in ways I didn't expect. Things clients were asking me to do were not things I thought they would be asking for; by nature, our industry is very reactive vs. proactive despite my life’s work and effort to switch that up!
I was surprised by the services that clients were requesting, yet it ended up working out wonderfully and we were wildly successful. We were running so fast and so hard at times, someone once called me a “Jill Of All Trades.” For the Pivotal Companies, now, after our evolution, we want to make an impact, educate businesses and their owners, and create out-of-the-box solutions that create the best experiences possible for our clients and their clients.
Question 2: What has been the most significant barrier in your career?
The one thing I wish that I had done sooner, and I applaud Shannon for, is taking this leap when I was 30. I think myself has been my barrier. I did myself a disservice. Being in student housing, I come across young women all the time, that have BIG dreams and goals. That’s one of my favorite things about the industry itself, I get to see young women, get to know them and work with them, and watch them follow their passions and chase their dreams. I get to see all of them have families and kids. For me, I didn’t have the self confidence and the ability to put myself out there and not care about the haters. In my career overall, I’ve really tried to boost self-confidence in my team members because I want the youth of today, the younger generation, to feel empowered. If only I knew then what I know now; I wish I had the confidence in myself to take those leaps.
I wanted my career & hard work to have meant more than just for my self satisfaction. I want to empower others, make an impact, & leave a legacy. I want to encourage women of all ages, ethnicities, & backgrounds to have the courage, and confidence to follow their dreams. You are never too young or too old, and if anyone says otherwise, they aren’t your tribe! I encourage each of you to own 'your you'.
Question 3: What is the biggest risk that you’ve taken?
The whole thing! I couldn’t visualize or conceptualize taking that leap of faith, dropping the paycheck that arrived so faithfully every two weeks, the benefits, health insurance, etc. That has been challenging. It was risky; I lived on a prayer. I took a big risk by growing too fast too quickly. I needed to also learn to say no to things that don't align with my overall goals and strategy. So much of business can be saying yes, because you need the revenue, but for me personally, I want to work on projects with groups I am passionate about.
Question 4: What are your current goals?
Being proactive. I’m looking at the leasing cycles in the student housing sector and planning what the semester is going to look like to try to gage marketing efforts. I want to present in advance of the timing, materials and products so I can start serving them earlier. So one of them is to be in front of each season in the student housing sector.
Another goal is working on our revenue loss from our Guerilla Marketing team because of covid. With that being said, we’ve worked really hard to create training opportunities. We partnered with a collections agency and offered courses to teach assistant managers how to collect with empathy during a pandemic because it’s easy to demand rent, despite familial and economic hardships occurring. So the goal is to continue to offer courses that will help people grow, develop, and lead through opportunities and courses The Pivotal Companies offers.
Question 5: What are you most proud of?
I’m so proud of my daughters and my businesses. Launching one business is a crazy enough dream and desire, so being able to launch 4 businesses was an incredible accomplishment. They say most businesses fail in their first year, and that hasn’t happened to me, so I’m really proud. AND there is more on the horizon! So keep a lookout, as we will be launching a nonprofit for women in January 2021, this is an endeavor my daughters and I are working on, and I cannot wait!
Question 6: Who inspires you in the industry and why?
At Peak are my most memorable moments, because I spent so much time there, so I could probably name 10 people that have had a very big impact on me. But from the student housing lens and a ladies who lead lens, I would name Mandy Elmore, she is the SVP at Peak Campus. She was my boss for several years. She keeps it real and shoots it to you straight. She was the kind of mentor that pushed back on you. Mandy is an industry leader who leads, guides, and gives her honest opinion. I admire that about her, because I believe the best bosses are the ones that sticks with an unpopular decision, when it is the right thing to do.
Holly Golebiowski is another leading lady, I have been inspired by. She supervised me in a couple of different roles when we both worked at Peak Campus. She inspires me because she taught me how important it is to have work/life balance and why! I say often, you cannot pour from an empty cup, and she ingrained that in me. She eventually left Peak and started her own coaching business. I hired her as my coach, I value her so much because she gives fresh thoughts, opinions, and perspectives. She also coaches my team, which I love having her as a resource for them, and myself!
Question 7: What advice would you give to the next generation of female leaders?
Take the leap! Believe in yourself, take the leap, don’t question yourself. I wish I could teach every young female on the planet to believe in themselves. When you are 49, you are not going to care about what anyone in the whole world thinks other than your kids and your spouse. I feel so empowered with my age. Every woman should know that they bring value and they add value. They should not feel intimidated by men or anyone else for that matter. Spread kindness like confetti. Be a goal setter and a goal getter.