Celebrating Theresa Howard’s Legacy at Martin Selig Real Estate

Celebrating Theresa Howard’s Legacy at Martin Selig Real Estate

It is with both excitement and sadness that we are announcing Theresa Howard’s retirement. As Martin Selig Real Estate’s longest-standing employee, we celebrate her 42 years with the team and wish her well in her upcoming retirement.

Before Theresa begins her next chapter, we sat down with her to talk all things leasing, MSRE, career advice, and her plans for the future.

Reflecting on Her Career

Not only has Theresa made a huge impact on our company, but the industry. In 2015, she was named Bisnow’s 15 Most Powerful Women in Seattle for her outstanding career achievements and leadership. Theresa has built a reputation for her unwavering commitment to her tenants, speaking about her experience to several commercial real estate and women-focused organizations.

As a people-focused leader, Theresa’s compassion and support extend beyond our office to everyone she encounters. Throughout her career, her main mission has been to help and support others to reach their goals, whether they be a tenant or colleague.

In 1982, Theresa joined MSRE as a Receptionist and Operations Assistant. A few years later, when one of the leasing agents left the company, she asked Martin if she could take on that role. He told her to “go for it”. She’s been an integral part of the team since. Now, as Martin Selig Real Estate’s Senior Leasing Agent, Theresa oversees MSRE’s leases and renewals, negotiations, tenant support, and team development.

Throughout her career, Theresa specialized in government contracting, working closely with the city, state, and federal governments. Due to her expertise, Martin Selig Real Estate is the U.S. Government’s largest commercial space provider in the Pacific Northwest. In fact, when reflecting on her biggest career achievement, she recalled negotiating a 173,000 SF lease with the Federal government— The biggest deal she has ever done.

The secret to her success? Theresa approaches everything with a 360-degree perspective and is prepared for any outcome.

Her Advice to Women in CRE

As a historically male-dominated industry, Theresa is no stranger to being the only woman in the room. While she and other female leaders are paving the path forward for women in CRE, a recent report found that women still only make up 36% of the workforce and only 9% of executive-level positions in the CRE industry.

Her advice to women trying to get ahead? “If you’re going to be a bear, be a Grizzly.” Meaning, if you’re going to compete, you better not hold anything back.

Theresa has learned to think like her male counterparts while playing to her strengths as a woman.  “Women are intuitive, they listen well, and are genetically less competitive.” Theresa said. “I genuinely think this makes us better at business, whether we’re receptionist or CEO.” She added that being less competitive is actually a strength, as competition acts as a distraction from your goal. “The feelings stand in the way of logic” she explained.

Playing to this strength, Theresa shared that whether it be negotiating a salary or a multi-million-dollar deal, her strategy is to always do her research and be prepared to respond to every possible outcome, including potential objections. “Speak slower than you think, and you’ll never get ahead of yourself” she added.

Her other secret? Confidence. “Have confidence in the fact that you’re great. Women are exceptional leaders,” she said. “Have confidence in your abilities and own it”. Theresa says she can count the number of women in commercial real estate on two hands, but that never slowed her down. Women are shattering glass ceilings, she says, but there’s much headway to be made in commercial real estate.

Her Time at Martin Selig Real Estate

Favorite Memories

When reflecting on her time at Martin Selig Real Estate, Theresa says there are too many memories to pick a favorite, but finding that Martin had turned our (past) main lobby on the 62nd floor of the Columbia Center into a Harley Davidson showroom stands out– “And Martin bringing a real reindeer to a holiday party”, she added.

In addition to her favorite memories working with Martin, Theresa recounted her experience working with government agencies. Her expertise and excellence in government contracting were acknowledged far beyond MSRE, in 2016 Theresa was invited by government officials to meet President Obama (pictured) as a thank-you for her work.

Throughout her work with government agencies, Theresa also accumulated a collection of Challenge Coins—tokens given by government officials to commemorate and recognize special achievements and exemplary service. She noted that “the idea of these is to pass them along as a way to recognize and celebrate others”. For this reason, Theresa carries them with her every day, should she come across someone deserving of one.

In her spare time at MSRE, Theresa also had the opportunity to work with Hollywood producers to arrange film locations for movies like Sleepless in Seattle, Crazy in Love, American Heart, and Singles. In fact, Theresa is featured in the movie Singles!

She explained that her Hollywood appearance was completely unplanned and that she actually tried to hide during the scene. “I was supposed to be in the office working, but I had the chance to visit the set and meet Matt Dillon. The next thing I knew the camera was pointed at us and I tried to hide behind a newspaper so I wouldn’t get caught!”.

Favorite Building

As the head of our leasing department, we had to ask which building is her favorite. Which she responded, “is sort of like asking [her] to pick a favorite child… but Fifth and Yesler.” She explained that this is because “the gentle curvature of the building feels like it is giving you warm hug.”

Favorite Part of Her Job

Theresa’s favorite part of her job is the people. Her team has seen her get married, have kids, watched her children grow up, and now her kids are having babies (some of her children have even worked at MSRE!). Many members of the team have been there for 20, 30, even 40 years, and because of that their relationships are very deep. Her goal for the company moving forward is to continue to be service-oriented. “Our tenants are king”, she says, and she wants to see service and support for them get even better.

What’s Next?

As a lifelong Seattlelite, Theresa is chasing the sunshine and moving to Arizona. After taking some time to recharge, she plans on learning to build tiny homes in North Carolina, taking up golf, and enrolling in cooking classes.

On behalf of Martin Selig Real Estate, we are honored to celebrate Theresa Howard, her career, and her lasting impact on the CRE industry. We thank her for her many years of service and mentorship, and for choosing to grow alongside us. We wish her the best of luck as she starts her next chapter!

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