Published On Sep 08, 2021
in Leadership & Development and PECO Culture
Senior Regional Property Manager, Melissa Kosciuszko joined PECO in June of 2019. A Certified Property Manager, Melissa is responsible for fourteen properties, totaling almost 1.5 Million square feet, located from Georgia to Florida. In addition to her daily responsibilities, in 2021 Melissa also applied for and obtained a WELL Health-Safety rating for PECO’s Cincinnati offices and started PECO’s first annual PECO Property Showdown. The WELL Health-Safety Rating, which covers all aspects of wellness related to PECO’s Cincinnati office, took several months and Melissa’s efforts were successful. The PECO Property Showdown is an internal competition designed to help motivate the Property Management team to try new things and reach new heights. Categories include the #1 PECO Progress Property (most aesthetically improved over 3-year period), PECO’s Greenest Property (most environmentally friendly), and PECO’s Friendliest Neighborhood Center (feels most like a community).
On top of all that, outside of work, Melissa is a published author! She writes several genres, focusing most recently on Christian suspense fiction. Last year, she finished a book for Mike Nappa called A Dream Within A Dream, and this May her book Never Miss released. Melissa has another coming out Fall 2022. They’re published by Revell, which is part of Baker Publishing Group (traditional publishing house).
With all of this going on, Melissa still found time to share her career path and advice with us. Here’s what she had to say:
What led you to a career in Commercial Real Estate?
I fell into it backwards. I was working at a chain of Taekwondo schools in Florida running a school with my husband (I’m a 4th degree black belt), and I started helping in the office, which led to my handling all the facilities maintenance, basic lease administration, all insurance, and some accounting functions. When I left there, I applied for an assistant job at Equity One, and Susan Forman hired me. I eventually received a promotion to Property Management Coordinator, and when Regency Centers bought out Equity One and my job dissolved, I moved on to a mid-sized family company as a property manager. And then Susan told me about the PECO job opening in Jacksonville, and here we are!
How did you become a published author and how did you feel the first time you saw your books on the shelf at Barnes & Noble?
That was a long road. I started writing my first book in 2009. I had no idea what I was doing, but I loved the idea enough to keep working on it. That book went through many, many iterations and is now published by an independent publisher (not vanity press), along with several other books under the pen name M.S. Kaye. How I became traditionally published (traditional/major publishing house) was kind of like how I ended up as a property manager—fell into it backward. Mike Nappa is an author and literary agent, and I was signed with him for a while. However, we were unsuccessful selling my book to a publishing house, and we parted ways amicably. Several years later, he approached me about helping him finish a book he had under contract. It was the third book in series. He’d gotten about 20k words in, and his wife passed of cancer. He could not bring himself to finish the last 70k words. He had always liked my writing style, which isn’t too dissimilar from his, so he presented an opportunity to complete the book and share the byline. The publisher liked my style and liked working with me on editing, marketing, etc. so they agreed to look at a proposal for a book by me alone. Normally, major publishing houses don’t even look at a proposal directly from an author; they require it to come from an agent. They liked the proposal, and they’d already seen that I can write well and work hard, so they signed me! I just recently saw my book, Never Miss (pen name Melissa Koslin), on a Barnes & Noble shelf for the first time. I had to stop myself from jumping up and down in the middle of the store! People walked by probably wondering why this crazy lady was staring at the shelf and grinning like an idiot.
What is the best advice you would give to women looking to grow in their careers?
Work hard and develop the under-appreciated skill of simply being able to figure things out. Come at a problem from multiple directions, even the unorthodox, until you figure it out. Never just throw your hands up. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. You only look stupid if you DON’T ask questions when you should.
Who are your role models or mentors and how have they helped you learn or grow?
Susan, of course. The women I’d worked for before her were overly aggressive and not in a smart or productive way. I learned how to balance being the kind person I want to be but also tough and direct when needed. Nikki Davidson has also been awesome to work with—she has that same balance of kindness and directness.
What are the most important traits of successful leaders and why?
Positivity, empathy, honesty. No one is happy unless the environment is positive. You can never lead if you don’t understand other people’s point of view. Don’t just dismiss others’ opinions. They feel that way for a reason—you need to understand why before you can lead them forward. Be a strong enough person to be honest and direct—don’t dance around a topic or problem; just deal with it.