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NAAEI Designate Spotlights
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NAAEI Designate Spotlights

Through the years, GCAA has afforded hundreds of members the opportunity to earn professional designations through the National Apartment Association's Education Institute. Since 2010, the GCAA has featured these NALP, CAM, CAPS, CAMT, and CAS desigation holders in its Apartment Times magazine. Their successes are admirable and their insights are valuable. Read about GCAA members' experiences with the NAAEI Designation programs below:

Melody Poetzsch, CAM, CAPS
First CAM in North Carolina (1980), GCAA Education Hall of Fame Inductee (1995)

How important have your CAM and CAPS designations been to your career? The CAM and CAPS designations were extremely important for a variety of reasons. A level of expertise was gained that gave me a solid foundation so that I could move forward. There were a great many relationships that were built because of that training. From there, I was able to share that education with others. Those relationships were the foundation for my active association with the National Apartment Association. At one time, I had the honor of chairing the National Education Committee and the National Accreditation Board.
 
Can you provide an example of one or more scenarios that saved your company money and/or reduced risk, as a direct result of what you had learned through your Designation coursework? Both CAM and CAPS gave me information and the tools to being a better manager. My CAM paper was a study of my property to determine if a condominium conversion could be successful. While I cannot say that I appreciated it at the time, I learned so much from having to go through the exercise. The community went on to be a sell out!  That same information that was researched was used again in reviewing other sites for possible conversion.
 
What would you say to someone who is “on the fence” about pursuing their designation? Investing in yourself and your life is the best money that you can spend. There is not a single investment that you could make that could possibly provide as many rewards. My current position of Vice President of Asset Management started with the CAM program.  The Chinese proverb of “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step” is undoubtedly true. A first step can add a whole new dimension to your life.

 Marcie Williams, CAM, CAPS
2008 GCAA Board President, 2011-12 GCAA Education Foundation Board President

How important have your CAM and CAPS designations been to your career? When I started in the industry, I never understood the importance of NAA designations. I began my career as a leasing consultant and was promoted to a Community Manager two years later. I was able to work hard for my company, but I didn't know how to work smart. Once I earned my CAM designation, I understood my role in the company better. I was able to combine my knowledge of company policies with my new knowledge of the industry. Things finally clicked. I was able to be self-sufficient, make confident decisions and ensure that I had a long future in the industry. Once I was a seasoned Community Manager, my aspirations grew. I was determined to be a Regional Manager, but there were many other smart and successful people in the company that were eligible for the position. The one thing that set me apart was earning my CAPS designation. The course was challenging and rewarding. I was able to learn property management from a global perspective and relate more to what the needs of my company were. Soon after, I was promoted to a Regional Manager and am confident my career will continue to move up!

Can you provide an example of one or more scenarios that saved your company money and/or reduced risk, as a direct result of what you’ve learned through your coursework for these designations? All of the designation program modules are helpful and informative. They not only help you understand each area of property management, but also give you new perspectives on problem solving and the importance of your role. Daily, I am able to analyze financials and make decisions that benefit the properties and the company. I have saved my company countless dollars by having a complete knowledge of the financials, being able to predict trends and enhance the value of the community. I have taken income generating ideas and expense savings tips from my classmates in my CAM and CAPS courses. I can still count on my classmates for knowledge and inspiration. Without the connections I made in the classes and the knowledge I gained, I would not be as beneficial to my company.

What would you say to someone who was “on the fence” about getting their designation? Invest in yourself! The knowledge that you gain and the connections you make are priceless. Not only will you learn the most current industry trends, but you will have a better understanding of your role in enhancing the value of your community, your company and your career. The classes are informative and fun; and the instructors are passionate and energetic. Your career is important and advancing in your company is imperative to keeping yourself relevant in the competitive work environment. This industry is fun and challenging, and you can make it even more rewarding by earning your designations.

Mindy McCorkle, CAM, CAPS
2006 GCAA Board President, 2011 AANC Board Secretary

How important have your CAM and CAPS designations been to your career? Both designation courses have been instrumental in my career in a number of ways. Many employers prefer their property management candidates have the appropriate NAAEI designation for the position for which they are applying. These designations are nationally recognized and illustrate dedication to the industry and to self-improvement. Additionally, the information learned in the CAM and CAPS programs is priceless. Not only did I learn a great deal from the curriculum, I also learned a lot from others in the classes. The courses also gave me the opportunity to form some very valuable (and pleasurable) lasting relationships with classmates and instructors. 
 
Can you provide an example of one or more scenarios that saved your company money and/or reduced risk, as a direct result of what you’ve learned through your coursework for these designations? In my role as Operations Director, I draw on the knowledge I learned from the CAM and CAPS courses almost daily. I’m able to reduce liability and manage risk much more effectively, help others I work with better understand financial analyses, and generally make better business decisions because of all I learned in the CAM and CAPS courses.
 
What would you say to someone who was “on the fence” about pursuing their designation? Get off the fence and sign up today! It will be one of the most valuable investments you can make for your career and your professional growth.

Ray McKeand, CAMT 

How important has your CAMT designation been to your career? The CAMT program has been extremely important to me and my career. I have taken the technical abilities I have gained through CAMT and kept them with me this whole time. I always refer back to the basic approaches which were taught to me in CAMT. 
 
Can you provide an example of one or more scenarios that saved your company money and/or reduced risk, as a direct result of what you’ve learned through your coursework for these designations? I saw a water heater sitting in a shop on a take-over one time. It looked to be newer so I started testing all of the components and found it just had a bad element. I learned how to test all of the parts of a water heater through CAMT.
 
What would you say to someone who was “on the fence” about pursuing their designation? If someone is on the fence about getting their CAMT, think about this scenario: A 2-ton heat pump runs about $850.00 with tax. If a technician knows how to trouble shoot a compressor correctly (which they teach in CAMT), then they just saved the cost of the whole CAMT program itself by knowing what to look for.

Shuntale M. Smith, NALP

How important has your NALP designation been to your career? I currently serve as the Property & Office Manager of a historic mixed use (residential & commercial) building in the heart of downtown Salisbury. My position as Property Manager has mostly been “learn-as-you-go.” Completing the NALP course has helped me in my career in many ways; it has, in its own way, been my “trainer.” While gaining your own personal work experience is helpful, obtaining official designations such as NALP is an invaluable advantage to those in the apartment industry.
Can you provide an example of one or more scenarios that saved/made your company money and/or reduced risk, as a direct result of what you’ve learned through your NALP coursework? For me, the market survey was particularly helpful. The survey provided valuable insight into how my property compared to the competition and how I could improve performance. Completing the survey allowed me to better understand the strengths and weaknesses of my property and make improvements to provide a better living experience for the residents. Additionally, I was able to increase revenue by gradually increasing rental rates of renewing leases. Through the coursework I learned some significant “dos & don’ts” for leasing professionals regarding telephone presentations, giving tours, safety, and fair housing.
 
What would you say to someone who was “on the fence” about getting their designation? The courses offered by the GCAA are affordable, accessible and easy to manage with a full time work schedule. They offer access to experienced mentors who provide support and advice. The instructors for the sessions I attended were exceptional! They managed to cover the necessary material while keeping the subject matter interesting and, sometimes, humorous. They explained things in a manner that was easily understood and they took the time to answer questions.
As with any profession, you should commit yourself to continually learning. Obtaining your designation can give you a distinct advantage over the competition and enhance your professional development. Having the NALP designation following your name tells current and potential employers that you have knowledge that can be readily applied in the workplace. If you haven’t done so already, I highly recommend seeking your designation. Let’s face it, education is power and opens doors to brilliant career opportunities. The more you learn, the more you earn!

Melody Adames, CAM, CAPS

How important have your CAM and CAPS designations been to your career? My CAM and CAPS designations have been essential in my career. Each course plays a role in the day-to-day functions of property management and has provided me with additional skills that I am able to utilize as an onsite Property Manager. Though I know I am an asset to my company, now I really feel like I can accomplish any task set before me - whether it be financial, legal, or resident issues. I do feel that I am becoming a more effective leader and thinking more outside that box. I see the bigger picture and how every one of my staff and I have an impact in our community. CAM and CAPS will also help me to further my career and one day achieve my goal of becoming a Regional Asset Manager.
 
Can you provide an example of one or more scenarios that saved your company money and/or reduced risk, as a direct result of what you’ve learned through your coursework for these designations? After taking the CAM and CAPS financial courses I have been able to control expenses at my community over the past few years, and we have ended each year with a positive NOI. In third quarter we are set to exceed budget by over 2% and concessions have come to an end. In fourth quarter we are looking to increase market rents. These financial courses have helped me tremendously. I have a better understanding of formulas, and I know how each number on my budget has a meaning and an effect on the bottom line.
 
What would you say to someone who was “on the fence” about getting their designation? If there is anyone that is unsure of why they should receive a CAM or CAPS designation, think about the amount of education you are benefiting from. You will receive over 90 hours of instruction. You will be given the opportunity to gain knowledge and insights from some of our industry’s top instructors. Property Management has changed so much in the 11 years since I began my career; I feel we should always be seeking knowledge. Remember CAM and CAPS are nationally recognized so where ever you go, they go.

Jonathan Tee, CAS (2015 GCAA Board Sectretary)

How important has your CAS designation been to your career (please elaborate)? The CAS designation has greatly improved my understanding of the day-to-day operations of apartment communities and their managers. Although I have served the industry for quite some time, there are always new challenges that arise in the apartment industry. The CAS program provides a unique look into many of these aspects and allows for a better understanding of the variety of responsibilities a community manager has to their property and their residents.
 
Can you provide an example of one or more scenarios that helped you to close a sale and/or improve existing working relationships as a direct result of what you’ve learned through your coursework for the CAS designation? During my career I have had the opportunity to work on a wide range of projects both small and large in scale ranging from simple day-to-day repairs to multi-million dollar projects. Although all of these vary in size and scope they all share a common element and that is protecting the bottom line. When a vendor has the ability to assess and understand the issues communities face, I believe the vendor adds value to the management company they work with and the goods and services they provide. It is safe to say since acquiring the CAS designation almost all of my relationships and sales within the apartment industry have both improved and benefited from the knowledge I gained from the CAS coursework in some way.
 
What would you say to someone who was “on the fence” about getting their designation? Get off the fence!!  Whether you are new to the apartment industry or a seasoned professional I believe everyone can take something away from the CAS program. A price tag can not be assigned to the added benefit and valuable information this course provides.

Jimmy Boone, CAMT

How important has your CAMT designation been to your career (please elaborate)? I can honestly say I would not be where I’m at today without CAMT. A few years back, I was hired at a property that had been interviewing several good candidates. After being hired, I ask them what made them decide on me. The director told me it was because I was a CAMT graduate. That  let me know right then, how important the CAMT courses were.
 
Can you provide an example of one or more scenarios that saved/made your company money and/or reduced risk as a direct result of what you learned through CAMT cousework?  Being able to do some of the sheetrock repairs  before the painters come in can save hundreds. On several occasions, I was able to cut out a wall, replace a broken pipe, repair the wall, all without one outside contractor. The list can be long because of all the maintenance techs face each day. But it all goes back to the learning experience from CAMT.
 
What would you say to someone who was “on the fence” about getting their designation? Fall on the side for CAMT. You won’t regret it. I’ve been around awhile, and I have never had one tech tell me they were sorry they took CAMT.
 
Anything else you’d like to share? Never stop learning. You are in classes with your peers. The things you gain from each other, facing the things you face, can be very rewarding and time saving. Take advantage of the opportunity to learn from people that have faced the things you face. CAMT is all about helping you do your job better. If you work for a company that cares about helping you better yourself, take CAMT, it will help both you and your employer.

Tabitha Myers, CAM, CAPS
 
How important have your designations been to your career? Earning my CAM and CAPS designation have been fundamental to my career in so many ways! The information regarding financial management, human resources, marketing, risk management, etc…have helped me to understand how to make good decisions for the company, community, and my team.  Both the CAM and CAPS courses are structured to make the information easy to understand and relatable to what we experience in property management. 
 
Can you provide an example of one or more scenarios that saved/made your company money and/or reduced risk, as a direct result of what you’ve learned through your coursework for these designations? By applying the principles I learned in the courses, I have been able to examine financial reports with solid understanding to analyze areas for improvement in income and expenses, renegotiate contracts for service, and mitigate risk. The marketing portion of the course is perfect for understanding the uniqueness of each community and how to showcase it the best way for superior results. 
 
What would you say to someone who was “on the fence” about getting their designation? If you want to be considered for a promotion or aspire to take your career to the next level these course will lay the foundation and give you the insight for success. Don’t hesitate, earning these designations is a choice you will not regret!  

Kali Hooks, NALP

How important has your new NALP designation been to your career? Receiving my NALP was a very important stepping stone for me; it also means growth and opportunity for advancement within my career and company.  
 
How has the NALP coursework benefitted you on site? I’ve recently been leasing more apartments than usual as a direct result of what I learned through my NALP coursework. Re-shopping my direct competition and learning new techniques from my classmates has improved my lease percentage dramatically. I also learned to loosen up and have fun on my tours! Finding a new apartment home can be a very strenuous process for prospects,  so it’s important for me to make a comfortable and lasting impression. After all, leasing professionals are often times the deciding factors for new residents in their search.
 
What would you say to someone who was “on the fence” about getting their designation?  I would encourage anyone to pursue their NALP if they have the opportunity to do so. The classes are helpful for professionals that are just entering the business or as for a refresher for veterans. There is nothing to lose.
     
Anything else to share? I would like to thank Camden for allowing me the opportunity to receive my designation! I look forward to making good use of the skills.

David Richards, CAMT

How important has your CAMT Certificate been to your career? Earning my CAMT certification was a big milestone in my career. I have been interested in getting my certification since I joined Camden Properties in 2006. There has been several times that my CAMT certification has helped me in my field.

How has the CAMT Certificate benefitted you on site? Residents respect and trust what you are saying more when they realize you have had advanced training in your field, and your coworkers also tend to come to you more often and ask for advice. 
 
What would you say to someone who was “on the fence” about pursuing their CAMT Certification?
I feel that anyone who might be thinking about training with the GCAA and receiving their CAMT would be wise to do so. It’s a small investment to make to become more knowledgeable and more valuable to yourself and your employer. You can definitely be proud and feel good knowing that in the maintenance field you’re in the top 10%.

Jason Brown, CAM

How has the CAM designation helped you at your property?
What the CAM designation has given me is a group of industry-proven tools to create higher efficiency, a stronger team work ethic, proper time management, and the ability to offer the best product possible to both my staff and our residents. I am able to have the “big picture” in mind with the decisions that I make on the property. What I have taken away the most from this Designation is the epiphany that the basics matter. The better we understand the principles offered by this Designation, the more equipped we will be to create a team of leaders.

How has completing the CAM program helped you with dealing with residents?
I am able to offer our residents a confidence in my decisions that can be trusted. We all are in direct business with people. I have learned that there are no shortcuts to good business. Our instructor, Sue Weston, encouraged the group to discuss issues that each individual property had experienced. It was helpful to understand that every property has completely different issues. What remains the same in each property is the need for a leader that has every ability to manage, control, encourage, and uphold the prosperity of the property.

What would you say to anyone on the fence about taking the CAM program?
Nearly every manager that I had the privilege of meeting in this class mentioned that they had wanted to pursue this designation for a long time. I think the reason that most decide to wait until another year is that they are nervous to let go of the mechanisms that have gotten them to where they are in this industry. The CAM program was designed to take the individual to the next level. It offers amazing tools that can actually help you achieve a higher level of understanding this industry. Weather you currently manage a high rise, lease up, low income, or garden style community, the basics matter. This course is designed to challenge those who are ready to lead.