Insights on thriving in commercial real estate
Sheldon Gross Realty
Years with company/firm: 35 years
Years in field: 35 years
Years in real estate industry: 35 years
Real estate organizations/affiliations: Executive Association of New Jersey, CREA United, and West Orange Chamber of Commerce
When and how did your career get started?
My career in commercial real estate began with me working around the office for my father, who founded our agency. That was a beneficial time because I was able to learn pretty much every street in New Jersey, and I’ve been tapping into that knowledge base ever since. I then earned my real estate license and immediately began managing a 100,000 s/f industrial building in Piscataway. My father essentially trained me at this property, teaching me all facets of leasing and management. I learned how to deal with numbers, work with tenants, and on construction projects. Ultimately, it’s where I learned to be a confident woman.
How do you manage work/life balance?
I have an effective strategy for balancing my career and personal life. I put out maximum effort at the office while trying to enjoy each day. Then, during my free time, I do my best to relax. I love my job, but it’s time-consuming and can be intense. After all, we’re dealing with construction projects, tenant issues, and tight deadlines. It can be a lot, so when the workday ends, I make time for some type of exercise, to ensure I release all the stress. That said, I’ve been immersed in this business since I’ve been alive, so when my professional and personal lives do occasionally collide, it’s okay – I’m prepared.
What impact has networking and social media had on your business?
During the past decade, I’ve committed to ramping up my networking efforts, and it has transformed – in a favorable way – my career. I currently belong to several different networking groups, and these have opened up many opportunities for me. As for social media, it became our prime means of communicating when the pandemic struck. We posted consistently about the range of services we offer. Based on our online content, someone reached out to me about taking over management of a very large property with multiple tenants. We’re still handling that property today, including the leasing. And it all happened because, in terms of communicating, we put ourselves out there.
What qualities and/or personality traits do you believe have helped make you successful?
Property management is about helping people – primarily owners and tenants – with their investments. That means I’m constantly thinking about problems … and solutions. So, I need to communicate effectively and be unfailingly responsive. It’s never easy – but it’s different each day, and that’s what makes it interesting.
What challenges did you need to overcome in order to achieve success?
Particularly at the beginning of my career, women were a minority in commercial real estate and property management, and that continues to be the case today, though to a lesser degree. It could be intimidating at times – I didn’t want anyone to think I couldn’t handle my job. The solution I found was learning. I took in as much information as I could, from all available sources, so I could confidently demonstrate that I knew what I was talking about. That was an empowering experience, and I’m still grateful to all the people who helped me learn.
Who do you feel was most influential in your life in terms of choosing your profession?
Without a doubt it was my father, Sheldon Gross. Growing up in the family home,
I listened to him talking about running a commercial real estate agency, and eventually, I went to work for him as an administrative assistant. But it never actually occurred to me that he’d see me as a leader … until he entrusted me with our agency’s property management department. That meant I was dealing with investors and some very prestigious buildings, and my confidence soared. Working side-by-side with my father was wonderful –he instilled in me an understanding that regardless of the problem, there’s a solution; you just need to find it.