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Young People In Real Estate: Meet Mariana Popescu

Millennials in the workplace: what’s the first thing that comes to mind when you read this? That they won’t stay there for too long? It’s only natural: young people tend to be bolder, more adventurous. But young people are ambitious, too. Their focus on “going from zero to hero” and building up their careers is perhaps stronger than anyone else’s. There are many ways in which they can develop professionally, and many choose to do so by sticking to one of their first – if not actually their first – employers. At Colliers, we’ve witnessed such accomplishments over the years. Most of our seniors joined the team when the real estate market was only budding, and our professionals grew together with it. Young professionals in a young market, it seemed only fitting. Today, however, is not about them. Even after the Romanian real estate market matured, we continued to attract young talents and established a tradition of nurturing their potential and guide it on the road from good to great.

Today, we take pride in our new generation of Young People in Real Estate.

 

Meet Mariana, our “Mari”, our 29-year-old Associate, sports Enthusiast, and anything Greek Specialist in the Land Department at Colliers.

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She’s been in real estate and in our team for four years, after working in finance in the beauty industry. Switching from cosmetics to land sales? Now that’s the kind of fearlessness we’re looking for and Mariana had it. We also have to thank our former colleague, Narcisa, for bringing her to us:  

I first heard about Colliers from Narcisa, my university colleague who worked in the Investment Department at the time. She was literally delighted by the work environment at Colliers and always had nice words to say about both the work she did and the people she worked with. In 2017, I had been working in finance for two years and I was not sure whether I wanted to continue doing that or work in the FMCG industry anymore, so when the opportunity for a switch to real estate appeared, I chose to take it. Back then, what convinced me to choose this industry was the fact that I knew it was well connected to the macroeconomic conditions, so I thought it was an opportunity for me to use some of the theoretical knowledge I had from university and understand how things work in the reality of the business environment. When the opportunity for a Department assistant within Colliers came up, I decided to jump at it, even though it was not specified what was the department that needed this position. I knew that being a department assistant at Colliers was more than just helping the team with the daily administrative tasks, that I would contribute to big projects, and have to constantly learn about the market. So, that’s how I “landed” in the Land Department, where I still work four years later.

Calm, relaxed, colorful, happy, chatty, pleasant, cozy – we see a general agreement in how our young professionals describe their workplace. We’re happy to see that we gave out a similar vibe to Mariana as well, and that the first contact with our office and people was a good motivational factor that made her choose us.

When I first came at the Colliers office for the first interview, I remember very clearly that people were happy, they were smiling and talking in a casual, calm, and relaxed manner. It gave me the feeling that they enjoyed their jobs and appreciated one another. I remember as well that I liked very much the office itself, its design – it was not the traditional corporate office space, but rather very colorful and cozy, with some lovely informal areas. So, considering these, I felt that I wanted even more to be part of that place myself. I had three interviews and a GMAT test and starting with the first interview (with Dana), then the one with two of my senior colleagues and, lastly, the one with Ilinca, I highly appreciated the fact that the interviews were not classic ones, like an “interrogation process”, where I had to answer standard (and mostly useless) interview questions; instead, they were all discussions in which both parties got to know and understand as much as we could about each other. The relaxed conversations, open and curious attitude of my future colleagues towards me allowed me to relax as well, to be authentic and I felt that they really cared about who they chose to join them (which is something I was doing as well, as a candidate, and therefore, clearly recognized this on their part).

Mariana grew from Assistant to Associate in a matter of only two years. For someone who had just entered the industry to be this fast in gaining all the necessary knowledge and put it to good use, it’s a pretty big achievement. And getting to know Mariana better, you see that she is rather confident and determined in conducting her work and keen on performing her duties flawlessly.

My journey in Colliers began as an assistant for the Land department where I helped the team with various support activities and learned about how the real estate market works, about land transactions and their complexity, who our clients and their strategies were and so on. After almost two years, I became an Associate and started contributing more in the department and being more involved in the ongoing projects we have together, I started talking directly to some clients (particularly landowners, but also some potential land buyers) and took on the entire research and analysis work required in the transaction process, as well as coordinate projects that increase the efficiency of our department. When I joined Colliers, I did not have a clear goal in mind, I only knew I had to first understand the basics, gain market knowledge, help as much as I could and then I would see where this goes. I think this was the right approach for me, as it leaves the door open for experiencing new things, being available to take on diverse responsibilities and, consequently, acquire new skills. In the end, I believe this attitude allows me to slowly, but surely, discover my strengths and work on my weaknesses. 

They say that habits, routines, and detailed plans help your life run like a charm. Sometimes, however, letting things run their natural course, one step at a time, allows for more flexibility and can be helpful in defining you goal. Mariana applied this theory and it turns out it was successful. Of course, every choice has its own challenges. But challenges are good, fundamental in creating and developing character. But we can’t explain this any better than Mariana does:

I think challenges are inevitable in our day to day activities and should be seen as learning opportunities, because they are a great tool that can help us become more self-aware and find a better way of doing things. For instance, one of the challenges I faced (and still do) is becoming comfortable with feeling overwhelmed sometimes. I didn’t say “don’t feel overwhelmed or overcome this feeling” because I think it is impossible to have a relaxed approach all the time, but we can learn to manage the feeling and use it to our advantage. I have learned that it is usually a good idea to take a step back, take a few moments to identify the source of the feeling/stress and then focus on one specific thing at a time, break it down into smaller parts if needed, or ask for help. Talking things over with your more experienced colleagues and finding out their opinions is also of great help.

In four years at Colliers, Mariana has gained extensive knowledge in as far as land sales, real estate players and the market are concerned. Yet Colliers is so much more than that. Others have said it before, Mariana comes and reconfirms that. A job is not just about the business; a job is not just about a professional journey. Or at least it shouldn’t be. 

I believe Colliers is a great place where you can grow, both personally and professionally and this is one of the things I value the most. I am grateful that I have the opportunity to work with some of the best people in the industry and I try each day to be a better person. I really appreciate the open – minded attitude and flexible approach I have found among my colleagues and their willingness to help (both one another, inside the organization and outside, always going the extra mile and coming up with creative and best quality services to the clients). So, I could say that the collaborative environment, the constant learning opportunities as well as the freedom to improve are some of the things that have made me stay in Colliers.  If I were to name a few things I have learned in Colliers, I would say the ones that have also helped me on a personal level: take things one at a time and be organized, enjoy and appreciate things as they are each moment (even the more difficult times, because they provide valuable lessons) and take each day as a new opportunity to do things a little bit better than the day before. I feel I am a more mature person than I was four years ago, wiser and more patient.

Mariana exchanged a career in the beauty industry for a bright future in real estate, without knowing what that future would bring. The risk she took was eventually fruitful, it brought to her an experience she wants to make as lasting as possible. Mariana sees how her contribution is meaningful in every way for those around her, so we can only wish this experience will be provided by Colliers, among others.

What makes me stay in the real estate business is the fact that you can never get bored, there’s always something happening on the market or in the ongoing deals that requires you to adapt and act in a responsive manner. I would say that my favorite part of the work I do is the sense of being meaningful by helping others, as well as the flexibility and freedom I have to accomplish my tasks and projects. Also, my job involves a lot of teamwork, I have the chance to work with smart people (both in my department and in cross-departmental projects) and I am glad that we have been very resourceful in finding creative solutions so far. I enjoy working in the real estate industry and I wish to keep doing this, because I know I have many more things to learn, it is a dynamic industry in which you have to constantly improve your skills and find better ways of coping with the challenges of the status-quo. The Covid-19 pandemic could serve as the best example of the need to do so.

As a conclusion, how would you land a career in real estate? And why would and should you do it? Here’s a message that Mariana wants to deliver to those who have such intentions:

The advice I would give is general advice I would give to anyone at the start of their career: Go for it with curiosity and perseverance, stay humble and do not hesitate to ask your more experienced co-workers or seek advice when you are insecure in a certain matter (because this is inevitable, I believe), speak up when you have an idea that think will be of help and, lastly, compare to no one but yourselves.

Mariana is extremely grounded for someone so young working in real estate, especially in land sales consultancy. But we think that’s exactly how it should be, and we’re looking forward to exploring the ways in which Mariana will develop. Until then, let’s hear Bogdan’s story, in just a week’s time.