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Building the Future - Lindsay Bonilla

Chat for a while with Lindsay Bonilla, CPM®, CCRM®, and you get a taste of where the property management profession is headed. The 28-year-old regional property manager for Cushman & Wakefield in Southern California embodies many of the challenges–and therefore many of the solutions–of an industry in transition.

Overseeing some 1,335 (and counting) residential units across five properties, she says, “I’m often working with people twice my age and tenure; and there’s a huge value in balancing that with new voices and perspectives, perhaps from other industries.”

It’s a delicate balance, and a delicate role, especially for someone so young. But the respect she feels for her team members is reflected in how she sums up her management style. She calls it “leading the leaders.

“Each person on my team has a unique approach and personality,” she says. “My role is to provide the tools and resources to help them do what they do best. There’s a reason everyone is there,” she says, adding that she strives for an empowering and collaborative environment.

As a Next Gen CPM Leader, it should come as no surprise that Bonilla is a strong advocate for industry education. And while she values the training in technical skills, it’s the “softer skills that truly matter in such a people-facing profession. It’s important to hire the person for their potential, and not necessarily for the skill boxes they check.”

Such thinking marries well to one of IREM’s five strategic pillars–bringing the message of property management not only to the institutes of higher learning, but also to high schools or trade schools, where it’s unlikely many students know property management is even a profession.

Happily, as 2022 national chair of the Next Gen Advisory Board, Bonilla is well-positioned to carry that message. “We have a lot of big goals for this year,” she says. “We’re going to be working in partnership with the Student & Academic Outreach Advisory Board to look outside of where we traditionally have.” She includes technical schools in that list because, “There’s such a need for facilities managers and maintenance technicians.”

Much like the high school students IREM is reaching out to, Bonilla didn’t know that property management was “a thing,” until a friend in the profession recommended it. “It seemed like fun, and I do like talking to people,” she says. A California native, she was actually in Chicago when she joined Lincoln Property Co. and fell in love with residential property management. A shift to Draper and Kramer exposed her to IREM, where her star rose rapidly. By 2019, Bonilla had been named among IREM’s 30 Under 30.

At the start of the pandemic, Bonilla took advantage of a unique opportunity to return to her roots. Cushman & Wakefield moved into residential management when it purchased Pinnacle Property Management Services in 2020. “I always enjoyed mixed-use assets, and so joining a company leading the commercial and residential segments of the industry just made sense.”

Throughout her career, she encountered challenges that would help inform her management style today. On one hand, residential property management is unique among real estate disciplines for its diverse population, specifically women. At the same time, Bonilla is aware that strides can still be made, both in upper-management diversity, and in the wage disparity between residential and commercial management. “It can be a misconception for organizations to label themselves as diverse,” she says. “The real questions remain: do our employees reflect the communities and clients we serve, and are they being compensated competitively in relation to other industries?

“Such issues can be a challenge, especially for a young Latinx woman,” she says, “and I anticipate it will continue to be at times. But in IREM I’ve found a conscious decision to embrace diverse talent and listen to new voices.”

Of course, hers can be counted among those voices.

Comments

Truly a needed breath of fresh air!

Reply

She’s amazing and very inspiring.

Reply


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