Credit: Tarick Foteh

You don’t always choose your profession—sometimes it chooses you.

Such was the case for Kelly Scott, the new, Houston-based president of Lane Management and a 26-year veteran of the apartment industry.

Scott’s journey began, oddly enough, in an aerobics class in 1986. She was working as an aerobics instructor at multifamily properties around Houston when one of her students, a property manager, asked her to join the industry as a leasing agent. From there, Scott wasted no time climbing the ranks.

By 2000, she was in charge of 20,000 units in the South Central region at Dallas-based Trammell Crow Residential. Scott then jumped over to Dallas-based Riverstone Residential Group, where, as the firm’s executive vice president, she was responsible for more than 60,000 units.

Obviously, Scott is no stranger to rapid personal and professional change. And she brings that same sense of swift adaptability to her position: When it comes to managing a portfolio, daily vigilance is a key ingredient, she says.

“You really have to look at your operations and management teams every single day and tweak things as needed,” she says, “because in order to streamline projects and make your team more efficient, you have to know when to turn that wrench a little tighter.”

After a quarter century in the industry, Scott decided to take a hiatus in 2011 and made a pilgrimage to Spain. After trekking through the foothills of the Spanish countryside for miles upon miles, she realized Houston, and the multifamily industry, was where she belonged.

“I’m passionate about people and real estate, so I decided to go back into property management,” Scott explains.

Now that she’s back, Scott has Texas-sized ambitions for Atlanta-­based Lane. Already, her game plan includes making aggressive acquisitions, growing the company’s third-party–­management portfolio, and rolling out new consumer-­intelligence software across Lane’s 20,000-unit South Central/Southeastern U.S. portfolio.

Scott says her new role at Lane allows her to react more quickly by leveraging all the software available, not to mention her years of expertise in property management.

“Now [with Lane’s systems], I’m able to capitalize on numerous market changes and effect change. I can make significant changes on a dime.”

If history is any indication, you can bet she’s only getting started.