Nareit’s REITalent series shines a spotlight on talent in the REIT industry, highlighting various roles within Nareit member companies and the unique career paths individuals have taken.
Nareit recently spoke with Tamika Thompson, regional vice president at Public Storage (NYSE: PSA). Her full video interview is available. The following Q&A is an excerpt from the conversation, and has been edited for length and clarity.
You can find current job opportunities available with Public Storage here.
How did you find your job at Public Storage?
Prior to working at Public Storage, I had worked for McDonald's for 15 years. In 2015 my husband's job had us relocate to Maryland, and I took that as a sign that it was time for a career change. I went on Glassdoor and noticed that Public Storage had some postings, and I saw that in the descriptions there was a lot of aspects of the job that I thought would translate well from McDonald's to Public Storage. I interviewed, and the rest was history.
Had I never had that self-reflection moment to seek out change I wouldn't have pursued [the position at Public Storage], but if you were to ask me today I would say that was the best decision I’ve ever made.
What does a Regional Vice President do at Public Storage?
I would say the most important thing that I do as a regional vice president is people development. I'm responsible for helping the district managers to grow their business, to help them find ways to develop their people, control expenses, and grow profit. The biggest responsibility is also helping them further develop the behaviors they need so they can get to the next level.
Is there any advice that you would give to someone looking to find a job similar to yours right now?
The best advice I can give to someone is to take the leap. It's change and change can be uncomfortable at times, but with change comes a lot of growth. Also, job seekers should not underestimate how their background can translate into this industry.
Is there a challenging situation that you've faced during your time with Public Storage, and how did you overcome it?
Prior to 2020, the biggest challenge I faced was just the transition from district manager into the senior district manager role. The senior district manager role is that training position to get you into my current position as regional manager. I was assigned to a different region, a different boss, but how did I overcome it? I embraced change and the things that I know I did well, and I continued to do those things. Public Storage has a solid support system, so I leaned on partnerships with my peers, called for help when I needed it, and got some best practices. By doing that, I was able to be successful as a senior district manager, which landed me in this position.
Would you say that there's value in reaching out to people either inside your organization or to outside to professional development groups for advice?
Absolutely. The more information and the more knowledge you can get is only going to set you up for success. It would be naive to think that you're not going to run into challenges and questions, and I've learned that by reaching out you're going to network with a lot of people who have faced your challenges, have some great success stories, and help you get to where you want to go faster.
What would you say is your greatest accomplishment to date working at Public Storage?
My greatest accomplishment to date is being promoted to senior district manager. And the reason I say that is that if you were to reflect on the average path that people take to get to a senior district manager position, I did not follow that. It's not necessary to follow a very set path in order to rise in the REIT industry. You can definitely chart your own course in this industry.
What do you think people just starting out in the industry can teach executives?
People new to the industry are coming with a different set of skills and qualities. And the advice I would give senior executives is to find a way to leverage those differences. Find a way to bring the best out of them, and leverage what makes them different. Leverage it as the company to grow the company.