Name: Peter Cato
Tell us about your career:
I began my career as so many of us have; as a leasing agent. I worked for the community where I lived in college and over the years there, developed a deep love for this industry. After graduating, I moved back to my home city of Augusta, GA and after a brief stint exploring a different career path, I came running back to property management.
After graduating from Nursing Anesthesia school, my wife found a job at Cone Hospital in Greensboro and I found Burkely Communities which happened to have a small community in need of a manager.
Having never lived outside of Georgia, we were both trepidatious about the move. As it turns, out we had nothing to fear. We fell in love with Greensboro, put our roots down, and nearly ten years later, we still work for the same places that hired two fresh-faced newlyweds from Georgia.
A few years ago I was speaking with one of our executives who recommended getting an MBA to further my career. I went home that evening and made a 5-year plan that began with getting the CAPS designation and then going to graduate school. The ultimate goal of the plan was to land a role at our corporate office and continue working for a company I adore. I moved to my current role during my last semester and I've been at our corporate office (still wearing a myriad of hats, old habits die hard) since and absolutely love working on the investment side of the business and helping our company grow. From leasing agent to my current corporate role, I've been in the industry for 17 years and I have enjoyed every one of them!
What advice do you have for someone just starting in your field:
Do not be afraid to ask questions or for help. When you do, take detailed notes that you can refer back to. If you have a team, identify their strengths and use those to your advantage. While identifying their strengths, take an honest look at areas they can improve and help them get better.
It is incumbent on all of us to train our replacement. I've found that having a clear succession option in place makes someone more promotable. In addition to the personal benefits, helping your teammates improve raises the level of service provided to your community and in a longer view, benefits the company as a whole.