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Jump Start January: From a Manager’s Perspective

Portfolio Managers have never had it easy. Long hours and the constant go, go, go of our industry doesn’t often leave Managers and other industry professionals with much time outside of work.  This has always been the case for me.  Each year Jump Start January comes and goes and each year I vow to attend “next year”.

As a manager, my designations are everything to me. I currently hold an active CMCA and AMS and have been working towards my PCAM for a number of years. Each year I slowly creep closer and closer to completing the remaining level 200 courses I need. Last year I finally took the time to read the PCAM application to see what exactly would be needed to fast track me to obtaining my PCAM. I have to say that I was floored when I realized I needed a minimum of 125 points to even have my application considered. This is spread between my formal education, professional designations, as well as CAI and industry-related educations and service. Cue the dramatic sound effects! What?! I quickly tallied up my points and came up with a whopping 90 out of 125. But I digress. This article is not about how slow my PCAM progress has been but how this realization spurred me into action.

Having never attended a Jump Start January event, I had no idea what to expect. I assumed it would be the standard networking breakfast with other managers and vendors, probably some committee presentations about why everyone should join theirs and a speaker. You know, the normal humdrum we fall into within our industry. Or, so I thought…

What I experienced was so far from humdrum it blew me away! Walking in I noticed each committee had their own booth all decked out in ways that showed me exactly what their committee’s purpose was. Three committees immediately caught my attention – Quorum Editorial, Chapter Events and Virginia Legislative Committee.

After schmoozing with colleagues, new and old, it was time for the guest motivational speaker.  To say I was impressed is the understatement of the year. Ursula Burgess, with Rees Broome, spoke about her journey to climb a mountain in such a way that it had me reflecting on my journey as a runner. Having been through my own personal challenges the last 3-4 months I found myself understanding her trials and what it took for her to overcome them. She spoke about the night they hiked to the summit. 30,000 feet in elevation and all she wanted to do was cry and quit. She goes on to explain how her husband’s motivation suddenly changed from making it to the top to making sure she made it to the top. Ursula ended her speech with a few key points that I didn’t just hear – I felt them. She said, “Failure makes us who we are, and how you deal with failure is what matters.” The stories of failing, or almost failing are far more interesting than those where we succeed, because only in failing do we find what we’re made of.

Her words were exactly what I needed to hear on that chilly January morning.

Walking out of the banquet hall it struck me – why had I waited so long to attend a Jumpy Start January event? I always thought it was because I didn’t have the time, but in reality, it was that I was scared.

Scared of failure, scared of putting myself out there, scared that I wouldn’t have anything to offer. I left Jump Start January committing my time over the next year to three committees.  Quorum being one of them. If you had told me a year ago that I would have co-written an article and was on my way to writing another, I would have laughed at you.

This year has been about taking that chance, making that leap, and putting myself out there.  Whether it be climbing that mountain, signing up for that marathon, or simply volunteering at the Chapter level…Just do it! I can’t guarantee you’ll succeed, but I can promise it’ll be an experience you won’t soon forget.


By Traci Castrovinci, CMCA, AMS

Traci currently works for Gates Hudson Community Management as a portfolio manager out of their Ashburn, Virginia office. She has been in the industry for fourteen years, six years as an on-site manager and nine years as a portfolio manager. Traci currently holds a CMCA and AMS designation and is actively working towards her PCAM.

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