CA Search Advisors is excited to share a bonus sixth profile for our Women in Real Estate Series. Again, this series features amazing female leaders and explores each one’s professional journey, inspiration, and advice to students and young professionals looking to build a career in the commercial real estate industry.
When Jamie Ranzan, President of Solera Senior Living, was born, her mother chose the gender-neutral name “Jamie” so that a potential employer would not know her gender upon reviewing her resume. Even at birth, Jamie had a support system in place to help her face obstacles so that she could pursue opportunities that came her way.
Jamie’s desire to make a difference in the lives of seniors was born out of her grandmother’s 11-year struggle with Alzheimer’s Disease. Jamie was four years old when symptoms initially presented, and she remembers covering for her grandmother’s forgetfulness as a child. Jamie began volunteering at a nursing home in Orange County at the age of 15, shortly after her grandmother’s passing, and found it incredibly rewarding.
Jamie entered college as a pre-med student believing medicine would be her pathway to a career working with seniors. She quickly realized that she liked science, but genuinely enjoyed the business and finance courses leading Jamie to change her major.
It was an internship with EY the summer before Jamie’s senior year that started her real estate career. She received a job offer upon graduation at EY with the audit team in the real estate group. Nationwide Health Properties, Inc (purchased by Ventas in 2011), a healthcare REIT with a strong focus in seniors housing, was one of her clients. The light bulb went off when Jamie realized that there was a finance career path into the seniors housing industry.
It was her Accounting Manager and Analyst role with MBK Real Estate Companies that put Jamie on that path. The company was restarting its seniors housing platform and tapped Terry Howard as CEO of the senior living company. MBK loaned Jamie to Terry’s group to help him with acquisitions as he staffed up his team and built the platform.
In 2011, Jamie was presented with an amazing opportunity to manage a portfolio of 850 commercial real estate assets totaling $1.8B in 36 states for KBS Realty in Newport Beach. KBS had also been an EY client and she joined the KBS team as Assistant Controller.
Three years later, Terry Howard called Jamie back to MBK Senior Living as the company’s Vice President/Controller and eventually CFO. Terry, Jamie, along with COO, Danielle Morgan, grew the company.
In 2016, Jamie and her husband were eager for a change. She had grown up, attended college, and worked for companies based in Orange County, CA. MorningStar Senior Living was looking for a CFO and the position was based in Denver, CO. Jamie had never been to Denver, but she was excited to go somewhere new. The team at MBK was supportive of Jamie’s decision. The MorningStar team embraced Jamie and helped her acclimate quickly to her new hometown and company.
The support from both sides would prove invaluable as Jamie had just been accepted to Pepperdine University’s Presidents and Key Executive Program. This prestigious 16-month MBA program only accepted 14 students. In a matter of weeks, Jamie found herself joining a new company, moving to a new state, and flying back to Los Angeles each month to attend classes at Pepperdine.
It was at this time, Jamie realized how important it is to surround yourself with a support system that enables you to say “YES” to opportunities when they present themselves. That may not happen at the perfect time in life; in fact, it rarely does. Jamie was lucky enough to have a family and a company that supported her goals and enabled her to pursue them.
While at MorningStar, Jamie met Adam Kaplan, Founder and CEO of Denver-based Solera Senior Living. Adam and Jamie quickly became a great support network for one another meeting regularly to talk about industry challenges and bounce ideas off each other.
One day, Jamie received a more urgent call from Adam asking if they might meet for coffee. It was at that time Adam asked her to join Solera as President. MorningStar had really become her family since moving to Denver in 2016. She would be leaving that incredible support system for more of a start-up situation. This young company offered an amazing high-end product to seniors, which truly appealed to Jamie. She could not let the opportunity to work with Adam and be a part of the innovative, bold platform at Solera pass her by and eagerly accepted the position. The team at MorningStar was sad but thrilled for her. Again, a testament to surrounding yourself with people who support your growth.
Jamie joined Solera in March 2020, a month earlier than planned due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, quickly jumping in and asking, “How can I help?” You see the challenges drive Jamie and excite her to get up in the morning because challenges present opportunities. It is important to ask, “How can we find and sustain positive change in the face of adversity?”
Even COVID-19 offers tremendous potential for finding ways to continuously improve and affect that positive change in the lives of seniors by learning more efficient ways to do things, seeking out innovation, implementing new technology, etc. Those opportunities include:
- A redirection and refocus on efficiencies that seek to increase safety. This is especially true in the area of new sanitation technologies. For example, Solera has invested in new shoe disinfection technology created by PathO3Gen Solutions that people simply step on so that UVC light can clean their shoes prior to entering a building.
- Reinventing resident engagement and how it is delivered. Solera is focused on finding ways to fight isolation and depression in seniors, a subject that COVID-19 has put squarely in the forefront of care.
- A focus on enriching the lives of employees as well. The stress of COVID-19 has also weighed heavily on employees. It impacts how they deliver care. It affects how they interact with residents, their own families, residents’ families, and colleagues. Solera has been exploring new ways to relieve the burden on, as well as to engage, encourage, and motivate employees.
- Ability to pull more hospitality professional into the industry. Solera’s founder, Adam Kaplan, is a graduate of Cornell’s School of Hospitality and Restaurant Management. That background shapes Solera’s approach to everything from the interior design of its buildings to the culinary program. The hospitality industry has faced a number of layoffs due to COVID-19. The seniors housing industry can provide jobs for hospitality employees, which in turn brings fresh perspective and new ideas.
Jamie also stressed the importance of being impactful with both mission and margin. She has pursued a career in an industry aimed at enriching the lives of seniors, as well as worked with leadership to implement more formal charitable giving programs at the companies for which she has worked. The focus of these has been mainly on helping foster and orphaned children in the surrounding community.
When asked about her advice to young professionals and students starting their careers, Jamie quickly provided wisdom gained from her own experience:
- There may be more than one path to your passion. For seniors housing, again, medicine, finance, and even hospitality are tracks into the industry. Some paths are obvious, while others are not. Pay attention, be open, focus on your strengths, and seek opportunities and connections that will help you get there.
- When faced with a challenge, do not walk away from it. Accept it. It will make you stronger.
- Balance is particularly important. Balance is success on its own. You cannot be perfect. We all do our best. Do not be too hard on yourself. The pressure to do everything perfectly will cause burnout.
The conversation ended with Jamie’s perspective about being a woman in the real estate industry. “It is important that we share our stories as women. We must appreciate and learn from the challenges and keep moving forward. Paths are continually opening for us. We have a voice, do not be afraid to use it!” We certainly appreciate and thank Jamie for sharing her story.
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