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Building the Future -- Jasmyn Sylvester

Paying it forward. And paying it around. If there are twin goals that sum up the future career path for Jasmyn Sylvester, CPM®, ACoM, those would be the two. “I believe I have a distinct opportunity to aid in creating pathways for future leaders,” says the 30-year-old senior property manager for Pine Tree LLC in Atlanta. “The coming years of my career will be set up to make space for those that come after me.”

Although she’s been working in property management for just shy of a decade now, since her graduation from Georgia State University with a degree in journalism, Sylvester’s been making an imprint. She joined Pine Tree in 2020 and was responsible for launching the Atlanta office. Jasmyn currently manages some 1.4 million square feet of retail shopping centers in Tennessee and Alabama. 

And here’s where the “pay it around” part of her goals fits in, a focus that will clearly benefit her employer. “I’d like to see Pine Tree’s footprint continue to expand across the Southeast,” she says, “and I want to be the one to help make that happen.”

That growth would be only the latest bullet point on her resume. An active IREM® member, she was among the 30 Under 30 in 2017 and was named one of this year’s finalists for an IREM Real Estate Management Excellence (REME) award in the IREM Excellence category. Sylvester serves on the national Diversity Advisory Board (she was 2020 chair) as well as on the IREM Presidential Task Force. At the local level, she’s currently membership co-chair at her local Georgia chapter, and will become VP of Membership next year.

A common theme

In that list of connectivity, you’ll find a strain that runs through all the most successful young CPMs, and certainly through all of those featured in this “Building the Future” series, namely the recognition that advancement has to be taken, not given. Or as Sylvester says, it’s a matter of “intention. If your desire is to be great, you must have the intention of connecting yourself with those who can help you. That doesn’t mean a handout or only attaching yourself to someone who can hire you, but someone who can share their wisdom.”

It means getting over any fear of rejection and simply asking, she says. “Most mentors are more than willing to share their knowledge,” she says. “That fear can drive you to either forget everything and run, or forget everything and rise. Choose to rise.”

One of the people who helped Sylvester rise was Dr. Debbie Phillips, CPM®, the force of nature who Sylvester describes as “one of the angels who walk this earth.” It was that career coach and president of the Stockbridge, Georgia-based Quadrillion who turned her toward property management as a career, based largely on Sylvester’s college job managing student and university centers. 

Of course, no amount of mentorship can prep anyone for what befell the industry with COVID-19 last year . . . especially a retail manager . . . and especially one with a newborn. (Sylvester’s first child was born in March of 2020.) Mother and son are doing very well, thank you. 

“When I returned to the workplace it was chaotic, to say the least.” But she reports the retailers in her properties fared well, all in all. “We certainly took a few hits,” she says, “and some local businesses didn’t survive.” But the owners she represents were “amenable to assisting their tenants, local players, and the national chains alike.” That assistance came in the forms of rent abatements in exchange for term extensions and “rent deferrals over time,” depending on the size and condition of the tenant. Always, the team was on hand to “provide them with the resources they needed to self-help.” 

Outside of the shops that are internet-resistant, such as dry cleaners and hairdressers, there’s been a greater focus on omnichannel strategies, another pre-COVID development that accelerated last year. “Grocers and restaurants were already headed along the path of buy-online-and-pickup-in-store,” she says, “and a lot of vendors are allocating spaces for pickup. The combination of both makes the customer experience a little more personal.”

That personal experience also relates to her own relationship with her retailers. “I enjoy establishing that rapport with local vendors and business owners,” she says. “I like seeing them succeed, knowing I have a role in the community.”

Miles to travel in DEI

As is evidenced by both her volunteer track record and her thoughts on mentorship, the property management community is also of great importance to her, particularly as a woman of color. “I’ve been working in the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) space for the past two years, and I see us at a crossroads. As property managers, if we’re going to state that we stand on principles of diversity,” it has to be reflected in our hiring and vendor choices. 

“An approach to diversifying our leadership teams would be to set up pipelines for diverse talent to enter the industry,” she says. “But we cannot stop at hiring. There must be continuous engagement, mentorship, and leadership development to ensure retention and cultivation.” 

And that approach extends to vendors. “We have to engage the local community, and especially the minority businesses there,” she says. “Most cities have a directory for small business owners that identify as minority-owned. Why not reach out to see if these vendors want to submit a proposal? We can change the trajectory of these minority businesses by giving them the opportunity to earn their contracts and prove they’re active players.”

As diverse as the property management industry is, and Sylvester notes that it far outpaces other disciplines in commercial real estate, she’s also very aware that “there aren’t a lot of people in the C-suites who look like me.” 

In this respect, advancement has a double meaning. With a focus on DEI, advancement of diverse cultures also advances our industry. 

We began this blog by summing up the goals of her career. Whether her focus is on DEI, on other volunteerism within IREM, on mentorship, or on her community focus, this too can be summarized with her own words: “Choose to rise.”

Comments

Jasmyn you have been the biggest supporter and Leader of IREM’s DAB Committee it was an honor to serve as your Co-Chair. Thank you for your continued support.

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Thank you Jasmyn for being an inspiration to other young minority real estate professionals. #goodtrouble

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I worked along side Jasmyn while on the DEI Committee. She will go far so keep an eye on her! My crystal ball tells me she might just be IREM National President one day! I hope so.

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Great perspectives! Love the shout out for @Dr. Debbie Phillips - One of the people who helped Sylvester rise was Dr. Debbie Phillips, CPM®, the force of nature who Sylvester describes as “one of the angels who walk this earth.” It was that career coach and president of the Stockbridge, Georgia-based Quadrillion who turned her toward property management as a career, based largely on Sylvester’s college job managing student and university centers.

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