Faces of PPM

Our people are our superpower at PPM. Get to know a bit more about who we are and the diversity, creativity, humor and talent of our nationwide team!

Matthew Bacon
Project Manager Lead

Why did you choose a career in commercial real estate?

“I didn’t choose the real estate life; it chose me” could certainly apply in my scenario. I have always had an infatuation with real estate and its spiderweb, of sorts, that this industry builds. From attaining my broker’s license during my college tenure to assisting investors who were building out their portfolios, I think it’s safe to say my mother is hardly surprised at my career choice. I used to run around Yonkers to set up signs for her open houses when she started her realtor career.

What stands out as a highlight of your career so far?

I have had the opportunity to travel quite a bit over the last four years for work and I would say leading launches of new buildings in different countries over the pond and beyond has been one of my career highlights. One experience in particular that stands out is when I traveled to Japan while working at Indeed.com to launch a new site in Tokyo and a new tower in Osaka, while luckily being able to witness the famous Cherry Blossom season. The second experience was launching two buildings in a nine-day span—the kicker had to fly to Dusseldorf, Germany for several nights for one expansion site to then fly straight to Austin from there for a tower build in the Domain.

What opportunities do you see for yourself and the industry in the next five years?

I would like to imagine I have this grandiose roadmap for my career, but I do not. I go with what feels right, which has led me to some great opportunities. As I continue to grow in this industry, coupled with the change that the world has experienced with COVID and the explosion of Real EstaTech (as I’m coining it), I do see myself diving further into workplace design. I love the idea of creating efficient and innovative spaces that ooze creativity.

I would also love to be on the sales side at some point. The thought of painting the picture for other companies to truly understand the vitality of the services rendered by PPM and companies alike excites me.

Time will tell what actually holds as a new normal for our industry; it’s hard to visualize a world in which remote work (location independence as my uncle would call it) isn’t largely incorporated into leading companies’ occupancy planning strategies. It’ll be interesting to see if these tech giants continue to scoop up real estate despite the offices remaining, in large part, empty. The second factor, and probably the more important piece of the puzzle, is will people ever go back to the office full-time?

What advice would you give others or to your younger self who may be considering a career in commercial real estate?

If there’s any aspect of real estate that interests you, just do it. Do you want to get your real estate license? Go get it, even if you don’t plan on practicing as an agent. Scratch that itch, learn about the space, rub elbows with people within the industry. The beauty of the real estate ecosystem is that there is seemingly a cornucopia of opportunities that may speak to either your passions or skillset(s). To me, it’s one of those industries that becoming a jack of all trades tends to yield better results or at the very least, place you in rooms full of successful people that can guide you on your yellow brick road. Last, choose which fears you want to live by – the fear of possibly looking stupid or the fear of never knowing. In other words, do not be afraid to ask questions, and do not be afraid to admit that you are unknowledgeable about a subject! 

What unusual talents or hobbies do you have? What are you most passionate about?

I can actually rap very well, so it’s been said. I’ve even had music placed on TV shows, but that’s a story for another day. I am passionate about new experiences and consistent growth! I think that’s something that goes understated at times – my love for traveling, eating at new restaurants, vineyard hopping (Brown Estate in Downtown Napa, a must) all stem from my affinity for constantly experiencing new things and finding new areas of growth. 

Erika Kennedy
Senior Project Manager

Why did you choose a career in commercial real estate?

I never dreamed of a career in commercial real estate, but I am so happy that this turned out to be my career path. When I first started my career journey after culinary school, I worked in television production on cooking shows. After moving to Los Angeles, the first job I had was as a receptionist for a fast-growing company. My boss at the time was the company’s Facilities Manager and her leadership helped me to understand that a career in facilities would be very exciting and challenging. I fell in love with the fact that no day is the same and you are constantly learning new best practices for how to handle the project in front of you. I am excited to step out of the world of facilities and continue to focus on my growth within project management at PPM.

What stands out as a highlight of your career so far?

I always say that any day we get to wear a hard hat at work is a great day! Prior to joining PPM, I was a Facilities Manager for American Airlines’ leased spaces at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. This role provided me with the opportunity to gain more project management experience for construction projects. Working alongside the team on the expansion of the baggage handling system was a great opportunity to further expand my expertise in this area — especially in a fast-paced environment that was still active for use, which provided many lessons. I’ve had the opportunity to be a part of really great teams and am looking forward to continued growth with my team at PPM.

What opportunities do you see for yourself and the industry in the next five years?

GROWTH! I anticipate that working within the commercial real estate sector over the next five years will provide so much growth and development, as the industry is constantly changing to appeal to customers as their needs change. Within the last two years, every industry has had to re-evaluate how they serve their customers’ new needs, which have been focused around less in-person work. I believe we can expect advancements in technology that will help to provide amenities that could potentially focus on self-cleaning air and work spaces, or even as we see now, more agile seating environments to accommodate the needs of being able to work in office again, safely. Spaces may even allow for new technology that provides a virtual experience while working remotely to increase connection and interactions with those who will continue to work from home. I’m looking forward to being a part of that growth and helping PPM along the journey.

What advice would you give others or to your younger self who may be considering a career in commercial real estate?

Be brave, ask questions, be flexible, find mentors, do what makes you happy, and make time to continuously learn what next best practices will be used around the corner.

What unusual talents or hobbies do you have? What are you most passionate about?

I love when I have the opportunity to cook a meal for friends and loved ones. Continuing to study food and wine is exciting for me. I enjoy the way that food, wine, and music bring people together to have a conversation and share a moment in time.

Keith Wallace
Project Manager II

Why did you choose a career in commercial real estate?

I was working in a general facilities role and was asked to assist a colleague with space planning. I quickly realized that I enjoyed the work I was doing. There are so many facets within the CRE field. I had the opportunity to work on a variety of projects which helped jumpstart my career. Over the past 10 years, I’ve partnered and built relationships with people all across the country. It has been an amazing experience.

What stands out as a highlight of your career so far?

Prior to joining PPM, I designed full office plans and layouts. On my first approved plan, I was able to travel out to the site once construction was complete to manage the move into the space. I still remember walking in and realizing what I envisioned and created almost a year earlier was now a functional office. It was pretty incredible and a moment that will always stick with me. Here at PPM, I was one of the original workplace managers, so to see the continued growth of the program has been exciting. And most recently, becoming campus lead in Boston and watching the success of my team has been my biggest highlight. I have been so fortunate throughout my career to have great mentors, I am now looking forward to sharing my insight and experiences.

What opportunities do you see for yourself and the industry in the next five years?

Personally, I am most excited about learning, taking on new challenges, and providing great service with my team in Boston. This industry is constantly evolving, and the look and feel of office space could be drastically different in the coming years. Companies have a unique opportunity to reimagine the workplace. PPM has so many talented people, I can definitely see us leading this effort.

What advice would you give others or to your younger self who may be considering a career in commercial real estate?

Stay curious. Listen and learn from people you admire. Don’t be afraid to take some risks or try something new.

What unusual talents or hobbies do you have? What are you most passionate about?

I try to stay as active as possible. I enjoy running and hiking, and I’ve always played lots of sports. I grew up playing hockey and baseball and still get out on the ice as much as possible. I’ve always had a deep interest in history, particularly WWII and family genealogy research. Beyond that, you can usually find me traveling with my wife, going for long walks with our dogs, and working on home improvement projects.

Jackie Liggins (Lee)
Senior Program Manager

Why did you choose a career in commercial real estate?

I didn’t expect to land in commercial real estate, it kind of just happened! I originally pursued a career in finance and was looking for a role where I could utilize my relationship-building skills, attention to detail, and strategic problem solving. When looking for a new finance job, I ended up finding PPM and falling in love with the company, the values, the people, and the projects they were working on. What I love about commercial real estate is there’s always opportunity to learn more about the field and meet and develop relationships with SO many different types of real estate professionals — clients, owner reps, GCs, architects, move vendors, etc. The opportunities and avenues within the industry are endless!

What stands out as a highlight of your career so far?

One accomplishment I take a lot of pride in is when I was able to simultaneously execute on two high-profile projects successfully. One project was 1.5 million square feet for one major client and the other was 2.3 million square feet for another client, totaling almost 3 million square feet at the same time! While there were challenges in taking on two complex projects, we were able to achieve high client satisfaction for both.

What opportunities do you see for yourself and the industry in the next five years?

I look forward to growing this team and empowering more women and people of color to take on leadership opportunities within the industry.

What advice would you give others or to your younger self who may be considering a career in commercial real estate?

Be open to learning and challenge yourself to step outside of your comfort zone! There are a variety of roles and opportunities within this space, so figure out what most excites you and build your goals around that.

What unusual talents or hobbies do you have? What are you most passionate about?

I used to be a competitive dancer and was once crowned Miss Dance of California! After college, I danced and choreographed around the United States, focused on developing and teaching high school dancers. I also used to be one of Jay Sean’s back-up dancers (Remember the rapper who came out with the song “Down”? Yeah him!). Since retiring from my dance career, I now enjoy traveling with family and friends, exploring new cuisines, and binging TV and movies with my husband and pups!

Ingrid van Zoest
Project Manager

Why did you choose a career in commercial real estate?

I started my career in commercial real estate as a space planner for AMD in Austin, TX, working in the Facilities Engineering Department. This position exposed me to how Facilities takes care of all aspects of commercial real estate. Since then, I have gravitated towards positions that involved facilities engineering and commercial real estate — from piping designer and project manager for major semi-conductor manufacturers to occupancy planner at CBRE.

What stands out as a highlight of your career so far?

I was given the opportunity many years ago to project manage a multi-million dollar tenant improvement project for the semi-conductor company I worked for at the time. This project involved preparing a 60,000-SF building for office and lab space and consolidating newly acquired small lab operations into the space. Working with the facilities engineering team taught me the value of team work and how we all contribute in some way to the bigger picture.

What opportunities do you see for yourself and the industry in the next five years?

Since joining PPM almost two years ago, I have been given the opportunity to lead and have a voice in the development of our Workplace Manager Program. I have enjoyed working with colleagues on the processes that have enabled this program to grow. I hope to continue to lead some aspect of the many programs and initiatives that PPM offers. The industry is changing due to COVID, requiring innovative ways of re-imagining space and how commercial real estate is managed. This requires those of us in the industry to be fluid and draw on the many skills we have to make an impact on the future.

What advice would you give others or to your younger self who may be considering a career in commercial real estate?

Don’t pass up the opportunities that come your way — all of your past work experience can be applied in some way to this industry, which needs many types of backgrounds and education to adapt to societal change.

What unusual talents or hobbies do you have? What are you most passionate about?

I speak three languages — Dutch, Afrikaans, and English — due to growing up in Holland and South Africa. I would say that my hobby is travelling when time and money allows, both in the U.S. and overseas. My husband and I enjoy road trips, especially on the Harley when the weather is good. I am also passionate about animals, and have volunteered at the Humane Society in the past and will do so again when I retire.

Ken Sturdivant
Project Manager

Why did you choose a career in commercial real estate?

My first ever job was in facilities management as a seasonal janitor. After talking to so many people who’ve spent their entire life in facilities and seemed to be fulfilled with their work, I decided to explore career opportunities in the field. Moving to Seattle motivated me to really learn as much as I could about the CRE world and the careers available. After discovering Moves, Adds, Changes (MAC) work, I knew that this was indeed the field for me.

What stands out as a highlight of your career so far?

The biggest highlight of my career thus far has been executing a global conference AV room refresh program. The program was in its infancy at the time of my joining; it was such a great experience to be able to develop and implement processes as well as execute on the delivery. The scope of the program and the limits of our resources required me to expand my knowledge base and really gain a better understanding of how I can continue to grow, excel, and deliver on projects that I can be truly proud of. The best part about the program was identifying how I provided a direct, positive impact for employees around the globe.

What opportunities do you see for yourself and the industry in the next five years?

I see myself becoming more ingrained in the project management world with an intense focus on MAC work. I want to continue refining and applying the skills that I’ve cultivated thus far and passing that knowledge onto others. I’d like to obtain PMP certification so I can continue to ensure that I’m delivering the best possible outcomes.

What advice would you give others or to your younger self who may be considering a career in commercial real estate?

My advice to others seeking a career in CRE is that the industry is both large and small. There is a plethora of opportunities that can really allow you to incorporate your passions into your work and find true gratification in your career. The industry also very interconnected. There will always be a co-worker who knows someone that’s looking for what you have to offer, so there are plenty of chances to find growth opportunities and forge bonds that a capable of becoming enduring friendships.

What unusual talents or hobbies do you have? What are you most passionate about?

The most unusual talent I have is the ability to name most trees just by looking at leaves. I did a leaf project in high school and the knowledge has never left me. I’m most passionate about learning; I just like finding new bits of information and looking to see where it can be useful for life.

Lysette Guevara
Project Manager II

Why did you choose a career in commercial real estate?

I chose this career path to follow in my mom’s shoes — she has been in the moving industry since I was five. I started at Graebel Van Lines, where she worked, but it became a passion of mine once Suddath made me an account manager for hospitality. A later promotion to project manager solidified my interest in the field. I knew I wanted to stick with it and am now going on 11 years in CRE.

What stands out as a highlight of your career so far?

So far, my biggest highlight has been moving NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) from a hanger at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa to another at Lakeland Linder International Airport in Lakeland, FL. I was the only project manager on it and managed three different crews and all communication between operations and the customer. The project had a hard deadline of two months and involved over 100 truckloads of airport parts including engines and large tools. We were able to move them and meet high demands and new deadlines for each different space. I was also given the honor as the only vendor invited to put a sticker with its logo in a plane that flies into hurricanes.

What opportunities do you see for yourself and the industry in the next five years?

I see a lot of new opportunities in the next five years. I am focused on improving the move process for PPM’s clients. It can always be better! For the industry, I see new opportunities to partner with more companies not just on moves but to improve their workflow internally and externally — a PPM specialty! I see the industry looking for more program management as the world keeps changing, and I see PPM being at the front of that surge.

What advice would you give others or to your younger self who may be considering a career in commercial real estate?

There are so many avenues you can take when considering commercial real estate, so do not put yourself in a box. Understand that growth within CRE may push you in new directions and out of your comfort zone, but those events may lead to a great opportunity. Also, get involved with a CRE organization for networking and mentorship sooner rather than later.

What unusual talents or hobbies do you have? What are you most passionate about?

Most people don’t know that I am also a tattoo artist. I used to do it as a full-time career. Now, it is more of a hobby, but I still love it as I am passionate about art of all kinds. Also, my current passion is fitness in the CrossFit world. I coach at a CrossFit gym in Seattle’s Georgetown neighborhood.

Susana Genesoni
Associate Director, Accounts

Why did you choose a career in commercial real estate?

In a twist of fate, in 2002, I met the head of real estate for an entertainment company while I was working for a temp agency. We got to know one another, she took a liking to me and from there I began my work in real estate and facilities management. Things took off, I stayed with it and it drew me in because no two days were the same — constantly exposed to all other areas of the business and always learning something new. Everyone at the company was my client and I liked that! No regrets here!

What stands out as a highlight of your career so far?

The people I’ve met stand out the most. The world of real estate runs the gamut and I’ve met people from all backgrounds that provide various trades and services. I’ve been fortunate to meet people who have been mentors, role models and some have become lifelong friends. Hard work goes into keeping spaces in a healthy state, and the importance of everyone’s contributions to meet common goals and work together as a team — and seeing that hard work come to life — it’s been a huge highlight. I would also add that my career has also helped me grow personally; finding my voice at work has helped me find my voice in my personal life.

What opportunities do you see for yourself and the industry in the next five years?

The common goal in real estate is serving our clients and serving them well, so my focus will be to understand how we do that when changes happen and change management is in constant state. I see opportunities to better understand how the needs from large, mid, and small companies can align. And, thinking more broadly, to discover how our processes and work in this space can mirror one other around the globe.

With technology growing at such a fast pace, it’s truly opened a window to think about how we operate when there is little time to create a fully fleshed-out vision while continuing to meet our clients’ needs and advance our experience with our spaces. I’m looking forward to seeing how that all comes together and where I fit in — that’s what the next five years look like for me!

What advice would you give others or to your younger self who may be considering a career in commercial real estate?

You will face a lot of unknowns, but when you are in real estate you will be part of finding and creating solutions, which is a great place to be. There is a power in this that might not be so immediately recognizable but you will have moments of stillness where you will feel it. Let it sink in!

What unusual talents or hobbies do you have? What are you most passionate about?

I am not someone with specific hobbies, mostly because I enjoy too many things and can’t pick one! I enjoy traveling and spending time with my family and friends. I work really hard at my relationships so that is definitely a passion! I tend to dig deep when I’m getting to know people and I am genuinely interested in others!

Kimberly Duval
Senior Project Manager

Why did you choose a career in commercial real estate?

To achieve your purpose, you have to be intentional. You have to make intentional decisions, but also pay attention to how the invisible forces are guiding you. I suppose I saw my calling when I was a pretty young kid. I was the girl who carried a graph paper notepad full of “dream home” designs and spent way too many hours holed up in my room playing Legos: building banks, skyscrapers, multi-building hospital campuses, you name it. Knowing I wanted a career in design and real estate was pretty much a foregone conclusion. So, after I completed my undergrad in Interior Design at Oklahoma State University, I pursued graduate studies in Architecture at the Boston Architectural College. After graduation, I spent 10 to 12 years in architectural firms such as Jacobs and Perkins + Will, but was then pulled to owner’s project management, and then to the in-house corporate real estate world, which led me to international work.

What stands out as a highlight of your career so far?

Before joining PPM, I was a Director of Global Workplace Management at MetLife. My greatest professional highlight was probably my management of MetLife’s Auto & Home headquarters repositioning in Warwick, RI. And I say that because it was such a massive undertaking to come in and replace a project management team that was failing and lead a significant project — one that was overbudget and way off schedule targets — into a success story. That performance landed me my role with MetLife, actually.

What opportunities do you see for yourself and the industry in the next five years?

Our industry is in a great state of flux, and I see a renaissance on the horizon regarding the way we position the office, and what it means to “work.” Right now, I see advantages in taking every opportunity to learn about what our clients are doing, what space really means for employees, for organizations, and how I can influence outcomes in favor of workspaces that are sustainable, equitable and relevant. I don’t think anyone can say with certainty what the industry is going to be like five years from now, but I would like to be a leading voice shaping the course.

What advice would you give others or to your younger self who may be considering a career in commercial real estate?

Commercial real estate careers mix technical backgrounds with soft skills. My technical foundation in architecture and interior design was a solid foundation to build my career, but I also think a focus on economics, data and analytics, and futurism are critical now. The best thing about a career in commercial real estate is that it’s fluid and there are always opportunities to learn and grow.

What unusual talents or hobbies do you have? What are you most passionate about?

I played alto saxophone for 10 years and we have a piano that I really should play more often! I am passionate about design — the evidence is my home renovation blog and the outputs are weekends spent sketching and building everything I can get my hands on!

Jeremy Fenton
Project Manager

Why did you choose a career in commercial real estate?

From the time I was old enough to swing a hammer, my father and I built things, which turned into designing and tackling our own home improvements. This eventually turned into a father/son handyman business, where if we didn’t know how to do something, we’d go to the library to learn how and then bid on projects. Then, I had various experiences within the construction field where I met amazing people that saw potential in me and gave me the opportunity to manage residential construction projects. I took to it naturally, eventually landing in commercial real estate and love what we do.

What stands out as a highlight of your career so far?

Definitely having the opportunities to support Broadcom, Microsoft, and Premera with their respective new global headquarters campus design/build endeavors. Any one of these could stand alone as a career highlight, and to have the experience with all three and the people involved has been an honor.

What opportunities do you see for yourself and the industry in the next five years?

It will be interesting to see the next evolution of post-Covid corporate office design. Specifically, how offices may trend towards a more residential aesthetic given the need to create an environment that both supports business needs and acts an inviting place employees want to physically experience. Additionally, zero carbon footprint construction and energy capture technologies continue to increase in efficiency. These to me are both cutting-edge qualitative and quantitative areas of opportunity in which I look forward to participating and becoming a leader.

What advice would you give others or to your younger self who may be considering a career in commercial real estate?

My advice to both (and this is for any person/industry) would be to surround yourself with the smartest people you can, listen to learn, and work harder than everyone else. The commercial real estate industry has so many facets to it that if there is an area that interests you and you pursue it with dedication, you can make a truly fulfilling career out of it.

What unusual talents or hobbies do you have? What are you most passionate about?

In my earlier years, I was a completely dedicated musician, and though not playing live much these days, continue to have a passion for the art and its positive effects on our lives.

Julie Chavez
Associate Director

Why did you choose a career in commercial real estate?

I was introduced to commercial real estate a few years after completing my degree studies when a previous director and mentor recommended that I stretch and take on a challenging role as a facilities supervisor. In that position, I learned how rewarding it felt to be part of a team that truly impacted the space where people visit and spend countless hours. It was exciting to see the results of goals accomplished and projects that included various types of repairs completed. However, what delighted me the most was the positive reactions of employees and patients at the end of each challenging project.

What stands out as a highlight of your career so far?

The relationships I have developed along the way standout for me. I have met so many wonderful people throughout my career and am grateful for that! I’m very fortunate to have continued friendships with my past team members, colleagues, and clients.

What opportunities do you see for yourself and the industry in the next five years?

I see myself being a mentor and helping others reach their career goals. I understand that I have not been able to grow in this field on my own, it took many people extending their time, guidance, and sponsorship. I developed several mentor relationships, and there were times only one motivating conversation with those individuals made all the difference. I want to reciprocate this mentorship and continue my life-long learning professional journey. I believe the real estate industry will continue to thrive, especially as technological advancements are made to increase value and efficiency.

What advice would you give others or to your younger self who may be considering a career in commercial real estate?

Be curious, ask many questions, and most importantly, listen to the answers, ideas, and suggestions. I would also mention that while much of our communication is now accomplished through technology, it is meaningful and important to be professional and grow your emotional intelligence by knowing when a face-to-face conversation will be more meaningful and effective. We are humans and human moments require energy; most people are happy to hear your voice or see your face, do your best to make that happen.

What unusual talents or hobbies do you have? What are you most passionate about?

I’m most passionate about personal development. Listening to podcasts on this topic is one of the things I enjoy most. I also love hiking and swimming, and during summertime, my two children and I make our way to the pool or beach any opportunity we get.

Tracy LeViege
Project Manager Lead

Why did you choose a career in commercial real estate?

To be honest, I didn’t know anything about commercial real estate. I started my career as a receptionist for a digital marketing company and quickly elevated to a facilities manager. After leaving there, I got a job as a project coordinator supporting two project managers for one of the largest commercial real estate companies and really enjoyed it. The rest is history…..

What stands out as a highlight of your career so far?

I struggled with calling myself a leader; it was something that was not in my vocabulary. I’ve had great managers at PPM who’ve seen something in me that I didn’t see in myself. I can now confidently say that I am a leader, and this is something I have been able to see in my team members as well.

What opportunities do you see for yourself and the industry in the next five years?

This last year and a half has been extremely difficult for everyone. I have seen a lot of changes especially on how companies have had to reimagine the workspace. I see this continuing to evolve, and I am excited to see how it turns out.

What advice would you give others or to your younger self who may be considering a career in commercial real estate?

While CRE wasn’t a career choice in the beginning, I decided to make it a career choice once I got my foot in the door. I have met some people in the industry who became my mentors and helped get me where I am today. Don’t be afraid to learn something new. You never know where it might take you.

What unusual talents or hobbies do you have? What are you most passionate about?

I am super passionate about two AMAZING girls. For the past nine plus years, I have helped raise two of my great nieces, Kai’Lani (almost 15) and Kassidy (10) alongside their paternal grandparents. They spend a couple of weekends with me a month, we go on vacation together, we take road trips, and much more. They are the absolute loves of my life, and I will do ANYTHING for them. When I’m not working or with my girls, my other passion is working out. I’m either at the gym or taking a two-mile walk three to four times a week.

Jenny Chin
Senior Talent Acquisition Business Partner

Why did you choose a career in commercial real estate?

I fell into recruiting out of school and started out hiring for construction, architecture, and engineering skill sets. I realized that I enjoyed following projects and being a strategic partner for my clients within the construction life cycle, so joining PPM and moving into commercial real estate was an easy decision.

What stands out as a highlight of your career so far?

Every time I help someone find a better career or place to call home is always a highlight for me. However, the opportunity to see President Barack Obama speak during a Diversity & Inclusion conference in 2019, as well as getting my certification to be a Diversity Professional (CDP) this past year are two of the biggest moments in my career.

What opportunities do you see for yourself and the industry in the next five years?

As our industry increases the need for diversification, I believe that my skills and expertise will be leveraged to make our workplaces more diverse, inclusive, and equitable.

What advice would you give others or to your younger self who may be considering a career in commercial real estate?

Do not be afraid of coming to work as your authentic self. Identify a mentor early on and lean in!

What unusual talents or hobbies do you have? What are you most passionate about?

I recently got into photography as a creative outlet and am an avid yogi continually honing in on my yoga practice. I am always on the go travelling for the next foodie spot!

Brendan Totah
Senior Project Manager

Why did you choose a career in commercial real estate?

Commercial real estate wasn’t on my radar until a colleague that worked at PPM reached out regarding an open opportunity. After talking with her and going through the interview process, I felt that PPM was a great next step in my career. I decided to take a chance, and I’m glad I did because it completely paid off. I quickly learned the ropes of the job and received an opportunity six months later to relocate to Los Angeles to grow and develop the southern California team and market.

What stands out as a highlight of your career so far?

The opportunity to see each member of my team grow. To me, there is nothing more satisfying than supporting my team and helping them reach their career goals. Their successes are my successes, and I love seeing the smile on someone’s face when they are rewarded with a promotion. I pride myself on being my team’s number one cheerleader and always having their back. 

What opportunities do you see for yourself and the industry in the next five years?

I’m fortunate to have the opportunity to manage a variety of programs and initiatives alongside some great colleagues. I look forward to applying those skills down the line to lead an entire program. Everyone in the industry has an unique opportunity to grow and adapt because of the pandemic. Moving forward, I see companies adapting through increased cross-functional collaboration to create a re-imagined and innovative office experience.  

What advice would you give others or to your younger self who may be considering a career in commercial real estate?

I would tell others to jump right in and seize the opportunities the industry is offering right now. With all the changes from the pandemic, now is the time to be a part of something innovative and impactful.

What unusual talents or hobbies do you have? What are you most passionate about?

I’ve always been very active and enjoyed being outdoors; especially going to the beach and playing spike ball. During the pandemic I developed a passion for paddle boarding — going as much as possible on the weekends, usually at Marina Del Rey. When I’m not outdoors you can find me playing tug-of-war with my pup or traveling with my family and friends.

Hau-Wei Chang
Project Manager Lead

Why did you choose a career in commercial real estate?

I was teaching piano and music composition privately when a friend referred me. Turns out wrangling musicians has a lot of similarities to wrangling stakeholders!

What stands out as a highlight of your career so far?

The re-launch of a downtown Bellevue commercial building. This was a complex project with undefined scope and swim lanes. Culminated in a total of 15 move projects — and intersected with a large number of stakeholder groups. This project included complex lab builds, prototype device moves, 12 floors of reconfigurations, and seven floors of construction, all while still remaining occupied and open for operations.

What opportunities do you see for yourself and the industry in the next five years?

I look forward to continuing to work on a client’s expansion in the greater Puget Sound area.

What advice would you give others or to your younger self who may be considering a career in commercial real estate?

Learn. Everything. Keep your eyes and ears open and be a sponge.

What unusual talents or hobbies do you have? What are you most passionate about?

I can solve a Rubik’s cube in 70 seconds — count that as a COVID win. I’m most passionate about music still. I have a long history with it, and I will always find myself returning to the piano.

Malini Roopram
Project Manager

Why did you choose a career in commercial real estate?

I ended up in the field during the 2006 recession through a temp agency and I’ve stuck around since then. My first role was a temporary receptionist at Massey Knakal. I was eventually placed with the Facilities department at The New York Times, where I stayed for 10 years.

What stands out as a highlight of your career so far?

One highlight is learning about and witnessing our large, e-commerce client’s growth. When I take a moment to step back, I’m always very impressed by the scale and speed of its expansion.

What opportunities do you see for yourself and the industry in the next five years?

The events of the last year have completely changed the way we work, which opens the door to multiple opportunities to innovate and specialize my current space and workplace management skills. Regardless, I’m open to other prospects because I hope to add as much value through my efforts as possible.

What advice would you give others or to your younger self who may be considering a career in commercial real estate?

Continue to learn and grow since there’s a lot to discover in the industry. To do this, it’s important to be forgiving of and learn from your mistakes and the mistakes of others.

What unusual talents or hobbies do you have? What are you most passionate about?

I’m more than 10 years out of practice, but I can still play the flute and read sheet music. I went to LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and the Performing Arts in New York where I studied music in addition to the regular public school curriculum. It was a great experience going to school near Lincoln Center, but very competitive. Even though I don’t play anymore, I still appreciate and enjoy seeing live music regularly. These days, I’m most passionate about creating happy memories with friends and family.

Eric Stensrud
Project Manager II

Why did you choose a career in commercial real estate?

I’ve always enjoyed being part of a career that involves producing or supporting creative technological spaces. These types of spaces bring people together and are more meaningful than most realize.

What stands out as a highlight of your career so far?

I used to oversee tenant improvement projects for a school district, and now having launched a number of buildings, I realize how important it is to align the educational environment with the current job market.

What opportunities do you see for yourself and the industry in the next five years?

I think education is changing how schools will be developed and funded. As charter schools gain a larger presence, I see a need to focus on supporting that growing industry.

What advice would you give others or to your younger self who may be considering a career in commercial real estate?

It is a diverse career path that can open numerous doors. Take the opportunity because you will not regret it! I started my career launching new and re-modeled grocery stores for Albertsons and then found myself overseeing construction re-models for a school district. Whatever your interests, chances are that there is a commercial real estate career associated with it.

What unusual talents or hobbies do you have? What are you most passionate about?

I love to travel, and in 2020 I actually traveled around and stayed at VRBOs the whole year in different cities and states. I’ve travel to 42 countries, and when COVID subsides, I plan to take my daughter to Japan for a belated high school graduation gift.

Jessie Bresnahan
Senior Project Manager

Why did you choose a career in commercial real estate?

I thought CRE was going to be an interim career path, but I ended up loving the variety; no day is the same, no project is the same, and no client is the same. I also love problem-solving and being a Project Manager means I get to do this every day.

What stands out as a highlight of your career so far?

Every project brings a different highlight! But I think being on a punch walk on a Friday and welcoming my daughter to the world on Sunday was pretty epic. The whole crew knew we had a project delivery date and my due date to work towards, and that I wanted the project to be completed before I went on maternity leave. It was a close finish, but we made it!

What opportunities do you see for yourself and the industry in the next five years?

I’m looking forward to taking a more active role in the engagement, support, and advancement of women in the CRE industry.

What advice would you give others or to your younger self who may be considering a career in commercial real estate?

Lean in, stay organized and get outside your comfort zone.

What unusual talents or hobbies do you have? What are you most passionate about?

I love DIYing! I see fun projects everywhere (stores, HGTV, Pinterest) and love trying to create them myself. I’ve made a wood bench, built-in bookcases, blanket ladders, and picture frames that are all proudly displayed throughout my home. I will also happily grab a paint brush and re-create an art piece that speaks to me (or at least try to). I wouldn’t say all my projects go according to plan, but that’s when I love to problem solve and make it work.

Ashanti Hymans
Assistant Project Manager

1. Why did you choose a career in commercial real estate?

Honestly, it chose me. I came to PPM after a long career in retail management and customer service. When I applied for the role here, I had never even known this type of job existed. However, once I started, I found there were many parallels between what we do as project managers for our clients and retail managers do for customers. Since starting two years ago, I’ve been excited to learn about the field and it’s truly sparked a passion for this work that I did not know was possible.

2. What stands out as a highlight of your career so far?

A major highlight thus far would have been working with PPM’s blackpac DEI group and leadership to partner with community organizations in our major hub cities of New York and Seattle. It was a truly inspiring experience to connect with the leaders of those organizations and to understand the work that they do and highlight how PPM and blackpac can support them going forward.

3. What opportunities do you see for yourself and the industry in the next five years?

I hope to continue to grow within PPM and hope to bring my passion for community, training and philanthropy to the forefront of my work. I feel like there is an opportunity to connect with the community and allow them to see and understand the great work that we do.  Ultimately, I hope to help bridge that gap and help PPM remain a leader in community engagement and expose more people to potential careers in this field.

4. What advice would you give others or to your younger self who may be considering a career in commercial real estate?

Don’t be afraid to take risks and leave your comfort zone. Leaving my career in retail after 13 years was a terrifying feat but in hindsight one of the best decisions I have ever made.

5. What unusual talents or hobbies do you have? What are you most passionate about?

I am an amateur photographer and a have a fairly large Funko Pop collection, one of my most unusual hobbies is wandering around New York City on the weekend with a backpack full of pops finding awesome ways to photograph them. 

Eddie Battiest
Assistant Project Manager

1. Why did you choose a career in commercial real estate?

My background is actually in the oil and gas industry where I was a project manager and business analyst for more than a decade. I felt like it was time to make a change and pursue something I’d never done before. Commercial real estate seemed like a growing industry in the Austin area. Plus, I was attracted by the complexity of the work and how it impacts so many people’s lives. We all need a place to work.

2. What stands out as a highlight of your career so far?

Honestly, working for PPM has been one of the highlights of my career. The culture here is the best I have ever seen. The support everyone gives is a breath of fresh air. In my past work experiences, it always felt very political and structured. You really couldn’t be yourself. You were a number, not a name. At PPM, we are encouraged to express ourselves and the people here are united around shared goals. We truly work collaboratively, not competitively. PPM brings the best out of people, and that is what really differentiates us in the marketplace. Our people really are our superpower. It’s fun to be a part of that.

3. What opportunities do you see for yourself and the industry in the next five years?

It’s really exciting to be in on the ground floor of this new market in Austin for PPM. With the rapid growth of Austin, I see myself assisting with developing new systems to help processes run smoothly. It’s like a new beginning, starting something where there is nothing but opportunity. And being able to be hands on with it from the beginning is exciting. I see myself growing with the market, adding value to the company, engaging in new relationships and new partners.

4. What advice would you give others or to your younger self who may be considering a career in commercial real estate?

Go for it! You can’t go wrong with commercial real estate. It is very rewarding and generally quite stable. Commercial real estate isn’t going anywhere so long as we need shelter and space to do our work no matter where it is.

5. What unusual talents or hobbies do you have? What are you most passionate about?

One thing people might not know about me is that I love to dance. Specifically, I love two kinds of dancing – hip hop and zydeco line dancing. My family is originally from New Orleans, so I grew up with zydeco and love the culture. I am also passionate about my family and helping those who are need. On the weekends you can usually find me cooking with my family. 

Teal Jarzyna
Associate Director

1. Why did you choose a career in commercial real estate?

Honestly, this career chose me. I had a friend in the industry who recommended me for a position because she was aware of my years of experience in the service industry and understood how my interpersonal skills would be a value in the field.

2. What stands out as a highlight of your career so far?

It is a toss-up between traveling internationally (Costa Rica and Hong Kong) to deliver on launch projects, and leading a team that delivered over 50,000 office moves in one year for our client.

3. What opportunities do you see for yourself and the industry in the next five years?

These are unprecedented times which allows for so much innovation in the field. Five years from now, I see the industry being focused on variations of flexibility within workspace and the technologies that support more on-demand personal interaction within the space. At this time, I see myself leading teams that will help drive these creative changes for our customers.

4. What advice would you give others or to your younger self who may be considering a career in commercial real estate?

My dad always had this saying when I was growing up: “Life is about problem solving.” This was one of the best pieces of advice he gave me. Over the years, I realize it taught me not to be scared of the problem, but instead to be open to finding the solution. To those looking to start a career in the CRE field, I would use the same sentiment. Be open to learning and working with others to find the best solutions for your client.

5. What unusual talents or hobbies do you have? What are you most passionate about?

I have been doing CrossFit for 10 years now, so I can walk on my hands, and lift a bunch of weight (pre-Covid). This year, in light of gyms closing, I have been working on building my home gym. 

I am not only passionate about my own fitness goals, but I also love helping others reach theirs as well. It is truly a transformative moment when you can help someone reach a goal they never thought possible.

Nai Saelee
Senior Project Manager

1. Why did you choose a career in commercial real estate? 

I was looking for a career change and was drawn to the growth of the tech industry in my hometown. I saw commercial real estate as a way that I could help put together the building blocks of my community. I started as a Punchlist Coordinator at a local commercial furniture company, then quickly transitioned to a role at a large account as a vendor partner at a global online retail company, supporting its organizational growth by coordinating internal transfers. My career took off from there. It’s amazing to see how much the account and program services has evolved in the past six years and continues to grow.

2. What stands out as a highlight of your career so far?

Two years ago, I relocated to New York City from Seattle to support PPM’s growth in the region. I am incredibly grateful to have had this opportunity to dive into a new scene and culture to build a team from the ground up. It’s been an exciting and humbling experience learning the ins and outs of the NYC machine and contributing to the evolution of the company. 

3. What opportunities do you see for yourself and the industry in the next five years?

Among other things, the pandemic has really shaken up the way many people work and live. It’s challenged us to look at these experiences in a different way. We have this great opportunity to reimagine the workplace — to rethink services and programs that can optimize space, providing the best needs for our clients. I believe PPM’s nimbleness and agility is a huge advantage and we can create trends and changes in the workspace and beyond.

4. What advice would you give others or to your younger self who may be considering a career in commercial real estate?

Work on building and strengthening your professional network. Practice your pitch and do mock interviews. Your education will help you move through an organization, but your network will take you right up to the front door. Research and dive into areas of interest, share them with your colleagues and connections through school and friends. With six degrees of separation, you’re bound to meet someone who knows someone who can get you that recommendation for your next opportunity or interview.

5. What unusual talents or hobbies do you have? What are you most passionate about?

No particularly unusual talents, but I’ve mastered my indoor plant care skills and built up my tolerance for cold while running outside during NYC winters. I am passionate about identifying and sharing growth opportunities and lifting others who may not have access to success. I wouldn’t be where I am today without the help of mentors and leaders who have provided the exposure to many facets of CRE as well as leadership training. Just as people have advocated for me and opened up space to have a seat at the table, I want to do the same for others.