Thirteen years ago, Lauren Owen started as an accountant with Pan American Properties. Even in the early stages of her career, Lauren had a knack for operations and “connecting the dots” between departments. Lauren’s natural ability to liaise and see the bigger picture made her the perfect fit for a promotion to Vice President in 2020.
In our interview, Lauren gives us insight into the “life” as company VP, and how no two days are the same.
From Boston to California
Sometimes, there comes a time when we feel prompted to “flee the coop” and start afresh, which for Lauren occurred early in adulthood. At nineteen years old, Lauren decided to leave Boston, the only city she had ever known, for a new beginning on the Pacific coast. A few years into her new life as a California resident, Lauren started as an accountant at Pan American.
During the time Lauren started, Pan American was going through a growth spurt, which meant the need for liaisonship between departments was growing more necessary. “I began with the company, and realized the need for operations. Sometimes, a department would make a change, but another department wouldn’t know about it, which caused a few hiccups,” she explains. “I wore a lot of different hats, like operations and human resources. This was helpful before moving into the role as Vice President, because you understand what everyone’s life is like in their own roles.”
Don’t fix what isn’t broken
Having a finger on every department’s pulse paves the way for stronger communication and clarity on what needs improvement, and what needs to be left alone. In any business, new ideas rise to the surface, and it can be easy to get carried away. But Lauren and the entire leadership team at Pan American have learned to recognize when change is necessary, and when a good process should be left alone.
“A new idea may sound awesome, on paper or in the office, but getting input from the departments a certain change would affect helps us to determine whether or not it’s worth exploring,” she tells us. “It’s always a work in progress, but when we see something, we at least have a conversation about it.”
Even so, the end result isn’t always the same. Sometimes, you move forward with a change, while other times evolution needs to wait. Both options require the confidence and value in yourself to make the right decision. Or, in Lauren’s words, “We’re willing to say, ‘Yeah, this isn’t right for us. It’s going to be more work, but we’re taking the leap of faith.’”
This confidence is something Lauren began instilling in herself long ago. “If I could go back and tell my eighteen-year-old self one thing, it would be to value yourself more, value your input, and have the confidence in a decision you’re making. Now, having two sons, I’m finally living out that mentality in motherhood and in our company.”
To win, you have to take risks
One of Lauren’s favorite inspirational quotes is from Muhammed Ali, who said, “He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.” We asked her about how the champ’s words influence her life and work.
“There is always a risk involved, in anything you do. When doing something outside of what you already know, it requires a lot of conversation and confidence,” she explains.
“For example, we recently acquired a property through a receivership, and with any property, there are nuances in choosing if it’s the proper fit. After taking the leap of faith, we analyzed the area, and discovered the property would be next to a hospital. This tells us information like the need for an in-unit washer and dryer, to accommodate medical worker’s schedules.”
These are the intentional questions that must be asked to ensure a property will be a great fit for future residents, and that the risk is worth taking in the first place. When Lauren took her first big risk by moving to California, she set herself up to be the intentional and methodical Vice President she is today.
Fortunately, Lauren’s venture from Boston to California has produced a lot of joy in her life as a mother and as a wife. “I remember when one of my first friends took me up to the mountains. We spent a morning there, in the snow, then drove home and spent time on the beach later that evening,” she says. “Our family loves being outside, at Disneyland, and we’re finally starting to get more comfortable going hiking with our kids.”
Moving forward with twenty pounds of beans
In February 2020, Lauren had her second son, just in time for the COVID curveball that threw the entire world through a loop. But, in true risk-taker fashion, Lauren and the Pan American team knew that the only option was to keep moving forward.
“We had a little bit of a pause, but ultimately we all knew we had to keep moving forward. It was a crazy time. My husband went to Costco for twenty pounds of beans while we figured out how to keep our Pan American team calm,” she tells us.
“Apartments don’t shut down. We took a week to figure out the best course of action for keeping everyone on staff safe, then came back and hit the ground running.