Washington Business Journal: Bozzuto Group Names Julie Smith Chief Administrative Officer
October 15, 2015
Bozzuto Management President Julie Smith has been promoted the newly created position of chief administrative officer for the parent Bozzuto Group, becoming one of the top-raking women in the D.C. region's commercial real estate industry.
Smith, who is also one of the Washington Business Journal's 2015 Women Who Mean Business honorees, will assume her role in the newly created post Jan 1. She will report to Bozzuto Group CEO Toby Bozzuto and will have a role overseeing key operations at the Greenbelt-based firm including marketing, human resources, technology and research. Taking over the presidency at Bozzuto Management will be Stephanie Williams, currently senior vice president of advisory services and business development.
Bozzuto is following through on a pledge he made upon taking over the CEO mantle last month to address a shortage of women in senior positions at his commercial real estate firm. In an interview, Bozzuto said Smith and Williams were both obvious choices for their new positions given their experience and talents with the firm, not just because they are women, and that Smith in particular shares his vision of helping Bozzuto to continue to grow and evolve as a company.
"My vision is to build on what my father, Tom, has started, and to create a company that has permanence and multiple opportunities," Bozzuto said. "As I look to the future of the organization, and an organization is only as good as its people, I wanted to surround myself with people like Julie and Stephanie."
Bozzuto said the goal of building on the company brand does not stop with promoting women to leadership positions in the company; rather, he said, it is for Bozzuto Group to become one of the best companies of all types in the area and that ensuring women like Smith and Williams have the same opportunities for promotion as men do is part of the path toward getting there. Bozzuto is already one of the biggest private companies in the D.C. region, with 2014 revenue of $1.7 billion, up from $1.3 billion a year earlier.
"The idea being, how do I make our company as great as it can be," Bozzuto said. "We are trying to strengthen a brand. We don't want to be the best real estate company in the region, we want to be the best company."
Smith, who has been with the company for 27 years as of this past Monday and has headed its management business for the vast majority of that time, said she believes Bozzuto has the potential to expand across all of the lines of its business, including branching out strategically into new markets in other parts of the country. She said improving on the company's marketing, human resources, technology and research operations will be vital in ensuring the success of those efforts.
"Those are really important divisions, and we really felt that, to position ourselves for the future in a business that has been changing so quickly,we needed someone who was singularly focused on those particular operating areas," she said. "It allows me to really, really hone in on those things that I'm passionate about."
While she does not feel her gender was ever an obstacle in the company, Smith said she is encouraged by the message Bozzuto is sending to others with her promotion and that of Williams and believes it is important to ensure that women see they can rise to leadership positions at Bozzuto.
"I give Toby a lot of credit. I think he is a thoughtful and progressive-thinking leader," she said. "We think it's important that leadership reflect those who we are serving in the community. It's a bold move on his part, since real estate is typically a male-dominated industry."
For her part, Smith has also sought to be a role model for younger employees moving up in the company, and she played an important part in encouraging Williams to make the leap from development to management in 2008 as the recession set in and development opportunities became fewer.
"I said, 'Oh, you're not going to have anything to do in development, so you should come over to management," she said. "I saw it in her, I knew she had star power, I knew she was going to be a great leader."