Nasutsa Mabwa humbly got her start in real estate at McCaffery Interests. Dan McCaffery, the founder of McCaffery Interests, took a risk in hiring Mabwa, who was coming out of municipal government and urban planning, to manage a large real estate development project. The rest, as they say, is history.
“Dan’s a visionary in his own right, and has been my mentor and sponsor in real estate development, a field that is oftentimes male dominated,” said Mabwa, president of New Balmoral Interests. “Dan takes risks, embraces innovation and understands the importance of quality, face-to-face time to develop long-lasting relationships.”
Mabwa isn’t afraid to take risks either, embrace innovation and network—three reasons why she’s remained in the industry.
“These three things are really important to remain on top in the industry,” she said. “I seek out innovation, and make sure to strategically network. Innovation can mean adapting new technology which could be a new cloud-based system to manage customer data, or a piece of highly-efficient, state-of-the-art drying equipment that is essential in my restoration industry.
“Risk taking is also key, otherwise your business can suffer from declining growth or plateaus,” Mabwa continued. “Finally, networking is obviously important but it is really “strategic” networking that opens up opportunities. It’s planning beforehand with whom you want to connect at an industry event.”
What sets New Blamoral Interests apart from other companies? It’s one of the very few women owned businesses in the restoration industry. “This makes it quite natural for me to interface and network with other women in asset management and property management; these women manage the majority of commercial real estate in Chicago.”
“Also, our company truly differentiates itself in the marketplace by providing the highest quality restoration and cleaning services the first time, every single time,” Mabwa added. “Additionally, we are certainly not afraid to implement creative marketing ideas, from unique direct mailers designed to catch customer’s attention to sponsoring quite a number of industry conferences and events. Finally, we have wonderful staff, which is how we remain in this business. We are growing largely based on word of mouth and customer reviews, have a good handle on our customer base and the marketplace, and we love to network and form strategic alliances.”
Right now Mabwa is a scholar in the 2015 Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Program which is focused on growing revenues and creating jobs in the U.S.
“The exclusive curriculum was developed by Babson College.,” she said. “Just a few weeks into the program I am recognizing how invaluable the overall business acumen I am gaining. The program is helping to build long-lasting, peer-to-peer networking opportunities, further understand financial management tools and develop long and short-term growth strategies.”
According to Mabwa, Chicago is seen today more and more as an attractive city for investors, and now the industry is experiencing recent job growth thanks to companies like Google, Yelp and Groupon.
“I think that the commercial real estate industry is certainly showing strong signs of growth in certain sectors such as tech start-ups, healthcare, professional business, leisure and hospitality. On the other hand, the manufacturing and construction sectors are still lagging behind.”
So how does Mabwa find the balance between work and the things that keep her sane? “I try to separate work and family as much as possible. Of course in my line of business that can prove difficult. By keeping work matters mostly at the office and being fully present for my family at home I continue to remain somewhat sane.”
“I also take time to travel, exercise, read, garden, and really enjoy cooking,” she said. “I am exploring new recipes from Le Cordon Blue Cookbook, Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking, The New Persian Kitchen, Morrocan Tagines, and Cooking the East African Way.”
Mabwa’s greatest accomplishment outside of CRE, is her two children. “Pasha (age 5), and Farrah (age 2), are my pride and joy. Surprisingly, I did not envision having children when I was younger but I am really enjoying motherhood!”
Her favorite movie/song of the moment? “I really like the movie American Sniper and the song “Sugar” from Maroon 5, which is the essential household dance party and treadmill workout song these days.”
Mabwa’s one daily habit that she can’t go without doing? “I make a quick to-do list every morning when I arrive to the office so I know what needs to get done that day for certain, and to better prioritize my time,” she said. “That way, when I get pulled into impromptu meetings or distracted by phone calls and emails, I can redirect myself to the tasks that have to be completed for the day.”
Reflecting on what she has learned throughout her career, if Mabwa were in a position to give advice, she’d say do not be afraid to ask questions! “When we are younger I think we shy away from asking the right questions that will help us really understand business concepts and deals. As we progress in our careers we are less self-conscious and more willing to ask the right questions so we are informed.”
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