Steal her secrets series: West Michigan real estate developer answers 25 career questions

Photo Credit: Patti Owens

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOTV)- Her suit fits just right, she knows everyone in the room and you can just tell she’s got it going on!  You wish you could be her or simply wish you knew her secret to success.  WOTV 4 Women wants to give you a deeper look at the many power women who are helping make West Michigan a thriving place for women at work.  We’re having them dish the details on everything from work life to home life and what has led to their career success.

25 Questions with Patti Owens

Credit: Patti Owens
Credit: Patti Owens Left: Patti and her 4 kids, Middle: Women Who Care Initiative, Right: Patti in her pink hardhat and steel toed boots

Meet Patti Owens. She’s the Vice President & Managing Director of Catalyst Development Co., LLC in Kalamazoo. While she’s normally busy juggling a list of development projects there’s a lot more to know about this power woman and her career.

Question 1: Describe your job and why you love it.

I’ve been saying that I have the best job in town since I began it back in 2004. I am charged with developing, managing, protecting and preserving a portfolio of real estate assets comprising over 1.5 million square feet of mostly commercial and mixed use space. What I love most about this job is that I get to develop and nurture a team of wonderful super-talented folks to deliver on our collective mission to exceed our customer’s expectations.

Question 2: Dig through your purse and tell us three must have items you found and 1 item you were surprised to find.

I pulled out my sunglasses first. Since I spend so much windshield time going between the 4 cities in which we have buildings, these are absolutely essential! Next out is my favorite shade of lipstick. Finally, my iPhone will always be found within inches of me at all times. I consider our commercial buildings as living, breathing creatures and they are alive 24 hours a day. I was surprised to find my Pitchfix in this purse…it belongs in my golf bag!

Question 3: When you were a kid what did you want to be when you grew up?

I used to imagine that I would be a famous opera singer!

Question 4: What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve ever received?

Do what you say you’re going to do.

Question 5: What’s the job you’ve had (in your lifetime) that still gives you nightmares?

During the summer after I graduated from high school, I had a job working in a factory assembling components for a pneumatic tool company. I still remember getting up at 4:00 in the morning so I would have time to do my hair and makeup and pick out just the right outfit before I had to punch in at 7:00 a.m. How silly! I kept injuring my finger nails while doing this meticulous assembly work and, after 3 days, I went up to the foreman and told him that I couldn’t do this job anymore. He told me he had me pegged on Day One. My friends who also were lucky enough to have that summer job made thousands of dollars that summer to put toward college. I have nightmares about that job because I wasted a great opportunity.

Question 6: What’s the best thing you’ve done to advance your career?

Dare to go beyond my comfort zone.

Question 7: Flats or heels?

Definitely heels!

Question 8: Crying at work? Okay or not okay?

I want my employees to know that work is a safe and supportive environment for them to express themselves. If that includes some tears, so be it. As for me, I allow some of my own human emotion to show. Great sadness and great joy simply cannot always be contained. Nor should they.

Question 9: Work/life balance? How do you make it work? What time do you “clock out”?

I think most busy professionals (like me) are in constant pursuit of a work/life balance. Each person’s balance is different. Mine might look different than yours, but it works for me. I think most women would say that they make it work until it doesn’t anymore and then it’s time to regroup and reprioritize. I wish there was a un-messy answer to this question, but the truth is that for most, there is not. We do our best!

Question 10: Eating lunch at your desk? A do or a don’t?

It’s a don’t, unless it is absolutely necessary. I subscribe to the idea that a team that eats together stays together. We use that space in the middle of our work day to slow down, share personal stories or collectively brainstorm a solution that has been stubborn to be found. It’s a way for us all to “touch base” at least once during the day when most folks are working in any one of the several buildings we manage and our paths wouldn’t otherwise cross.

Question 11: What makes you grateful?

The saying “Start each day with a grateful heart” is my mantra. Intentional gratitude, when applied daily, becomes a habit. I am thankful for my family and friends, good health and the opportunity to do something meaningful for a living.

Question 12: What was your biggest blunder in a job interview? What did it teach you?

I was very early in my career and interviewed with an insurance agency. I was quite young and had an unqualified opinion that I possessed a great ability to sell insurance. I didn’t approach the interview with the understanding that how I performed could make an impact on the success of the business. I think I was more interested in “coming across as successful.” I know the business owner was not impressed. I think the take away here is to always be your own true self during these pursuits.

Question 13: Describe your morning routine.

There’s half a cup of coffee with a LaCroix chaser and a Vitamin B12. That’s followed by a quick walk around the company “campus” checking for lights out, trash on the ground, etc. Next up is a trip into the office to check in with the team. Answer some e-mails, confirm appointments and get ready for what’s up that day.

Question 14: Proudest career moment to date.

I’m proud of where I work, who I work for and what we do every day of the year. I can’t say that I’ve had a “proudest” career moment, but I’ve had some definite highlights. Opening the Miller Canfield Building and the Greenleaf Trust Building in Kalamazoo in the same year is very memorable. The ribbon-cutting at the Greenleaf Trust Building in Birmingham, Michigan, remains one of the most exciting days thus far, too. I love the entire process, but I suppose the end result is what makes me most beam.

Question 15: What’s the most important thing in your life right now?

Being intentional to make certain my people know that they are important to the world and much loved. I’m pretty lucky to have such a great family to love.

Question 16: What time did you wake up today?

6:00 a.m.

Question 17: What’s the first thing you notice when you meet someone?

Oh, for sure, I’m looking for eye contact.

Question 18: What are you reading right now?

Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen

Question 19: In a typical day how many emails do you answer?

Lately, I’d say 60-80.

Question 20: What’s your favorite TV show?

CBS Sunday Morning!

Question 21: What’s your favorite spot for a meeting in West Michigan?

I call it my office away from office: Something’s Brewing on South Street in Beautiful Downtown Kalamazoo.

Question 22: What’s your favorite app?

It’s got to be Pandora.

Question 23: What experience in life made you the most nervous?

It was very recent when I had to have a minor heart procedure. Intellectually, I knew that I had the best doctor who had performed the same procedure hundreds of times with great success, but I had an irrational fear all the way up until the procedure actually began and, then, it went away as quickly as it had begun. I suppose it was a simple case of fear of the unknown.

Question 24: What’s one question you always ask in an interview?

What’s one thing you do that you love to do that you do better than most people? This invites a prospective team member to share something very positive about herself or himself and kicks off some comfortable and sincere conversation.

Question 25: What’s the best part of your job?

Hands down: building, developing and nurturing teams is where I get my kicks. There’s absolutely nothing more fulfilling than watching a group of people achieve success!

***Do you know a West Michigan Power woman who deserves to be featured in our series?  Email us her name/business and contact info!

Other women featured in this series!


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