Suzann Priest-Cabling is a self-described numbers geek. “The most satisfying thing in the world for me is to hit a forecast I’ve set out for my company,” she says, “whether that’s a $100 million investment or my operating budget here.” Her company is Jackson Square Properties, a San Francisco-based private real estate investment firm, where Cabling is CFO. Jackson Square Properties buys and sells apartment buildings nationwide, owning some 20,000 residential units in nine states worth upwards of $3.8 billion.
Working in the financial services aspect of real estate fulfills a career goal for Cabling, who enrolled in the Berkeley-Columbia Executive MBA Program after working as an accountant and at E-Trade so she could break into the field.
But her work is not all about numbers. Understanding the human element is key in a management role, even when numbers are your thing, Cabling says. If you can understand what an employee needs and help create a job that’s satisfying to him or her, then you’ll get optimal performance. Something as simple as offering more flexible hours or work from home time can help lower turnover, which Cabling describes as the most expensive thing that can happen to her firm. “People build up knowledge, and I like to keep that here.”
Successful management, she says, requires a blend of self-assurance and compassion. “It’s about how you make the person you’re interacting with feel. If they are confident in you because of how you present what you know, then that’s what we’re shooting for.If they feel bad that they don’t know the information you do, then you’ve walked past the line in terms of attitude.”