Sandra K Denton, Chair CAMICB, talks to REM Times on her maiden trip to UAE and what keeps her driven even after 33 years in the business
One of the first few things that you notice about Sandra K Denton, Chair, CAMICB is her positive aura, the enthusiasm to be part of discussions, and her infectious and encouraging smile. Having had the pleasure to be in her company during the recently concluded IRECMS -Dubai, one noticed how eager and open she is to learn even today. A trait, she says, is something that has kept her driven to date.
This has been Sandra’s first visit to the UAE. And Dubai has been eye-opening, she said. “It has been awe-inspiring to see the magnitude of some of the communities. I have many key takeaways from my visit here in Dubai. Especially on how one can enhance customer experience. Although we may not have access to all the technology that is available here, there are many lessons I have picked up on how we can do things differently,” said Sandra.
Sandra is General Manager for the Sienna Association in Missouri City, Texas - and she remains an active member of the faculty for CAI and serves on the CAI Government & Public Affairs Committee and the Texas Legislative Action Committee. She is also the Chair of CAMICB.
However, looking back, Sandra said that the Community Management industry was never part of her plan. She stumbled upon it when she was looking for a change. Coming with a background in Shopping Center & Building Management, Sandra was offered a new role at a large-scale community in Texas. “I took this up thinking it is similar to my previous role. However, within the first year, I saw that the job was significantly different. The involvement of people was a lot more. I was now working with property owners, who were emotional about their assets. And, in no time, I immediately took to this and became very passionate about the profession. I could see the impact this line of work had not only on the built environment but also on the people living in it,” she explained.
Sandy has been with Sienna since 2005, and before that she was the Executive Director for First Colony Community Association (FCCA) in Sugar Land, Texas, another very large master-planned community. Previously she also held the role of President of the Community Associations Institute (CAI); and the Foundation for Community Association Research (FCAR).
Drift the conversation towards gender balance and women in leadership roles in the Community Management sector - Sandra noted her first experience with this profession that was beyond her workplace. “I remember attending a CAI Conference for managers of large-scale communities in 1991. It had 50 attendees with only 5 of them being women. Today, the same conference, had around 130 people, with the majority of the attendees being women,” she added. Sandra said that the evolution of including women in the Community Management industry has been very organic. “The United States witnesses more women in the Community Management profession with a majority of them in leadership roles and own management companies,” she said.
Women, she described, as being more compassionate and considerate of what a homeowner/an employee might be going through. Apart from the multitasking skills, Sandra explained how women are capable of leaving their egos at the door during a board meeting and calmly addressing any situation. “This profession makes you do many things and these skill sets are very valuable,” she added.
Having been in the business for 33 years, Sandra says if there is one thing that she will advise anyone -woman/man - is to have patience. The line work can be very demanding, and Sandra shared her recipe for success. She said one needs to have patience, listen to what the owner is asking for, and have the willingness to get to the root of the problem, you can make an impact. “Yes, there are going to be challenges in the industry. End-of-the-day balancing those out and helping people live in a better environment is what makes this profession enriching,” she sums up.