Here at Strat Property Management, we know our success is due to our wonderful team. The care they give our renters is unparalleled and we want to highlight their milestones along the way. Below is an interview with team member Kathy Vieira, who is celebrating her 8-year anniversary with Strat Property Management.
Kathy is the Vice President of Business Development at Strat Property Management.
Peter: How long have you been with Strat Property Management?
Kathy: Eight years now.
Peter: Does it feel like it’s been a while or a blink of an eye?
Kathy: It doesn’t feel like it’s been that long. There’ve been changes since I’ve been here, but it’s something I really care about.
Peter: So you started in the accounting department, correct?
Kathy: Yes, I started in accounts payable and I wasn’t planning on staying long. It was only supposed to be a summer job, but it became an 8-year job so far.
Peter: How did you hear about the company?
Kathy: My mom and I were at the grocery store and we saw Dan Jorgensen’s wife, Kathy, and she said they had an opening for an accounting job, so I went in for the interview and got the position. I was in school pursuing an accounting degree and to get any kind of job at all you have to have some kind of experience, so I was glad to take anything and it seemed like a great opportunity. I didn’t think I could balance work and school but Strat Prop made it possible. I helped them out, they helped me out.
Peter: What university did you go to?
Kathy: San Diego State.
Peter: Can you tell me more about how Strat Prop made it possible to work and go to school at the same time?
Kathy: Yeah, we had a really good summer together. School was my priority, but they wanted to keep me around. Whatever my school schedule was, they let me work around it and once I graduated I started here full time.
Peter: I know you’ve climbed a few rungs here at Strat and now you’re part of the executive team. How did that go?
Kathy: As I continued to get experience, our company was growing so quickly and needed more help, so I started reconciling properties, which is a bigger position. More like a staff accountant, running accounts payable and receivable. I pretty much had my hands in all the different departments in accounting.
Eventually I got the position in Revenue Management, which put me more on the self storage side. Now I’m the VP of Business Development. Throughout my time here, I’ve been good at working with our vendors. I was already doing a lot of new project type of things. When I was there, we switched from paper to electronic. Now I just do bigger projects.
Peter: It sounds like business development is updating how Strat works?
Kathy: The way I describe it is when something new is coming into the company, I usually have my hands on it. It’s almost a kind of a project management position: staying on top of everything and helping our vendors, partnering with them. Working with them on a consistent basis when they’re coming up with new ideas, we want to be innovators in our industry, not reactors.
When I started with this company, we were much smaller than where we are now. We have 65 storage locations and all the apartments we have too, we’re not a small company any more.
Peter: You’ve seen a lot of growth. What’s been one of the biggest things you’ve noticed with all the change and growth of the company?
Kathy: My job didn’t need to exist before this time. We’d integrate something and it wouldn’t be that difficult. But now, we have to pay close attention, because it affects so many different people and properties.
It really needs to go into a system for it to work. We can’t do a different process for each property, so we’ve been making things more consistent, so we have a foundation we can continue to step on as we grow.
Peter: So, basically, process standardization is really important?
Kathy: Yes, and I do still believe you should have some flexibility, but I look for the deal-breakers when it comes to consistency. Where can you bend and where can’t you? Our job as the executive team is to build a structure so the team can “run it like you own it” mentality.
We don’t want anyone to feel like they are thrown to the wolves and don’t know what to do. We want to be able to provide support while letting them grow their pieces. We grow at the corporate level while they are growing their individual properties.
“I have had a lot of positive experiences with Kathy. Earlier in the year, she was really great about motivating me and helping me be the best version of myself. She has helped me stay focused. She has a good heart and cares a lot about other teammates and the company. I actually kind of nicknamed her “My Guru” because she helped me out with a lot of big projects. She was really good at supporting me and helping me have a good quality of life even with those three big projects.”
Marc Gaudet, UNITS San Antonio Team Lead
Peter: Let’s switch gears for a little bit, what is your favorite thing about your job?
Kathy: Something I learn more and more is I enjoy how people’s minds work and what their strengths are. It’s amazing when you get a team together where everyone is working with their strengths. I know I can’t do everything, but I know I have a great team that is going to represent the company well. That’s my job, what is the company’s vision and making it a reality. People sometimes are the hardest part of the job, but our diversity makes us special.
Peter: Anything else to add about work?
Kathy: Stratitude! I love seeing our team behaving in that way. We’re being the best version we can possibly be when we do. That’s our culture and that’s why I’m still here at the company, why I’ve been here so long.
Most companies our size have more people on staff. We have one person that runs an entire property, which is amazing. Our company is about getting the right people who agree with our core values. I can’t imagine working for a different company that doesn’t have these kinds of things.
Peter: That is really great to hear, Kathy. I know you have a life outside of work. What are some of your hobbies when aren’t busy making things more efficient at Strat?
Kathy: I would say at this point in my life, I have a five-year-old, little Nate, and my two year old, so a lot of times I am spending my time with them. I coach tee ball, which is lots of fun. I’m pretty handy, so I like to fix things up around the house. We’re planting fruit trees right now. My yard is a hill and we planted seven trees, an orange tree, a lemon tree, a lime tree, avocado, apricot, grapefruit, and one other one. I can’t remember. We’re just learning how take care of them, fertilize them, make sure they are getting enough sun. That’s the kind of stuff that makes me happy outside of work. It’s 75 degrees out in the winter time in San Diego and I’m fortunate to have a nice back yard to enjoy the weather with my family. My husband has a two year old and I am actually expecting right now.
Peter: No way! I didn’t know that.
Kathy: Yeah, I’m gonna have three kids here soon. My life moves quickly, just like my work! But I enjoy my life. I appreciate the things I have. I’ve received opportunities, the people I work for are like family. They’re the best and I have a wonderful life. I’m very grateful.
Peter: Do you have any advice you’d give someone moving to San Diego for the first time?
Kathy: One of my favorite things about San Diego is you just can’t get it wrong when you go out. There are so many great places to go place to place. Keep an eye on all these events that happen at Liberty Station and the waterfront. There are events and concerts going on every weekend. It’s hard to run out of things to do in San Diego. I like to see how many places I can go. Restaurant week is great too.
Peter: Is there a favorite, can’t-miss restaurant to go to?
Kathy: I would say one of my favorite places for a view and atmosphere I like Coasterra their coconut margaritas. It has outdoor seating, it’s very San Diego. It’s close to the airport too.
Peter: If you could any advice to someone who is just out of college, what advice would you give them that you wish that you could have gotten back then?
Kathy: That’s a good question. People get so focused about what they want to do they can lose track of who they are. I got an accounting degree, because I didn’t really know what I wanted to do and it’s a recession-proof job. Everyone needs it, so I knew I’d be able to make money.
I see too many people going to college and getting degrees they don’t use. So take the time to investigate yourself and find out what will make you happy and what is realistic too. I figured out who I was and what my strengths were and continued to work in that direction instead of going at it blind.
Peter: If someone isn’t sure what they are good at, where’s a good place to start?
Kathy: The strengths test. The Gallup test I took was a good one. That’s a simple place to start. It’s very much about work-related stuff.
“I’ve known Kathy since before I started working at Strat through the Self Storage Association’s Young Leader’s Group and have recognized her talents, curiosity, and eagerness to do her job. It’s something that impressed me about her. When I had the opportunity to work with Strat, I knew she was going to be the perfect fit for what I had in mind as Vice President of Business Development. The self storage industry is constantly evolving. There are always new technologies, products, and processes to explore. Kathy is very curious to learn and she is very thorough. When I think of Business Development, I think of growing our business from a process and team-member-experience perspective. Once we’ve identified a project we want to take on, she is in charge of the implementation of that project. Her organization and thoroughness makes our projects hugely successful. Her ability to work with our team, explain to them what to expect in advance, makes these large projects easier for everyone.”
Travis Morrow, President of Self Storage Operations
Peter: Is there anybody on the team you’d like to give a shout out to?
Kathy: I have to give a shout out to my UNITS team in San Diego and San Antonio. We challenge them to run it like they own it. I picked this team for a reason and they have impressed me the entire time.
Whether it’s the drivers who pick up extra hours in order to make our customers happy, or the managers who are going above and beyond with boots on the ground getting our rentals. I’ve been so impressed with their ideas and their ability to work together to make this happen, because, unlike self storage, there’s a whole other component of moving, storage, picking up someone’s stuff. That’s Marc and Adam and Gilbert and Pete. It’s really been a group effort and they always are helping me learn more about it, too.
Also the other two are Don and Randy. They’ve given me so many opportunities and opened up avenues for me to be a better version of myself. I’m eternally grateful to be a part of the company that they’ve built. I hope for many more years of continuing to earn it and doing the best that I can to follow their vision.