Katherine Lambert

I’m as averse to change as the next guy. When I got to have someone as talented, prolific, and energizing as Shabnam Mogharabi do a perfectly good job of motivating her team; producing important print, online, and in-person products and platforms to engage you; and creating value for our titles in this community, why would I take it as good news when she announced she intended to move on? I wouldn’t have, really, except that it was Shabnam. How could you not have guessed early on that that young woman had a gift, and thus was bound for big things. She’s articulate. She’s analytical. She’s an insomniac workhorse and perfectionist. Oh, and she’s a leader. For the four years I got to work with her, she had a knack for making me look good, even if she was challenging my thinking.

And for all of those reasons, we’re neither surprised nor regretful about the opportunity and challenge that beckoned her on her way to what we think will be a fabulous, fulfilling career path.

What’s more, the reason I’m both complaining about and saluting Shabnam and the next stage of her career is that there’s a point in this for all of us who call ourselves leaders in this community. It’s about excelling, and about growth, and about talent.

Now, as a refugee in my own way of the wreckage of single-family, for-sale housing, I want to share with you just one “take-away” from the experience of having lived and breathed the high-volume production builder world for more than seven years. What they did in the beginning of last decade was grow. What they didn’t do was excel. They got caught up in the real estate and finance juggernaut, and they didn’t nurture the talent to improve their operations or their way of knowing what people wanted and would pay for. Real estate appreciation carried them on a joyride until it crashed full-speed into a wall.

Now, as Les Shaver’s “Fasten Your Seat Belts” story ably relates, multifamily executives feel the adrenaline boost of a strange power—fundamentals—driving demand, which dominoes into interest among investors of all types and, in turn, transforms business modeling into a moving target of guesses and bets. Each guess, each bet traces back to the equilibrium and imbalances among rent growth, vacancies/occupancy rates, a nascent healing in the homeownership market, etcetera, and lend either clarity or uncertainty to one’s continued investment tactics.

What doesn’t change, downturn, upturn, or U-turn, is the need for operational excellence. We’ve enlisted a Multifamily Executive stringer, Alison Rice, to focus on five specific examples of industry firms whose strategic position and execution make them segmentation forces to contend with, in “Niche Guys Win.”

What I’d like to suggest is that we at Multifamily Executive continue to challenge you to improve and excel as operators, because that’s what it’ll take to thrive not just during the upward trajectory, but through the next down cycle, as well.