Recognizing Your Value
A conversation with Pierre Ramos about his career and experience in Executive Leadership Development
Pierre Ramos, executive vice president of MZ Properties, worked his way up in the world of commercial real estate, going from an assistant to an executive vice president in the span of two decades. Looking to hone his leadership skills to further his career prospects, he enrolled in the Executive Leadership Development program.
What prompted you to do this program?
A lot of my learning has been self-taught. I have an associate’s degree in real estate and I’m working on my bachelor’s degree in project management right now. I started my career about 20 years ago as an assistant to a very successful real estate broker and lobbyist. I was put into situations where a great deal was expected from me. Instead of folding during those stressful times, I excelled and got a great deal done. But I felt I wasn’t self-realized, and I felt that there were definite gaps in my education and my know-how.
What impact did the program have on you?
The program helped me realize that what I needed was a certain way of thinking about myself. I now recognize myself as a leader in a way that I hadn’t before. Now when I walk into negotiations, or to a meeting with clients, I realize they are turning to me. I’m not turning to them. I’m in control of the situation. I didn’t appreciate that before.
It was a change of mindset and realizing that I needed to actually become a leader. For example, I didn’t realize I was micromanaging until I went into the program. I was just the type of guy that if anyone on the team said, “I don’t know how to do that,” I’d just get it done. But now I realize that I need to be utilizing all resources — technological resources, human resources — to be successful.
What did the program teach you about leading a team?
Two things: The first is the importance of getting your team to believe in goals and [to reframe] successful outcomes. The team needs to know that nothing ever goes as planned, but you can still be successful. I [now] have my team define a threshold for success instead of an absolute. The next is to see things from another’s perspective. Now when we walk in to negotiate a deal, instead of looking at the bottom line, we’re looking at the other party’s goals to align with them.
How effective were the program’s 1:1 coaching sessions?
Very. My coach, Dennis, helped me to realize the importance of placing a value on myself. He helped me to recognize that I am the business. Now when I go into projects I ask for a percentage of the project and people don’t say no. So knowing your self-worth and how to negotiate are two things I took away. Now I’m actually asking for ownership. I’ve never done that in my life before.
How has the program changed the way you think about your future?
I’d like to earn my doctorate or win some type of award or contribute to some type of project. I never used to think like that. Ever since the program, I realize there are certain abilities that I have. The point is, if you don’t know how to drive the first-class vehicle that you were given, what good is that vehicle? (To use the metaphor: Stanford gave me the license to actually drive the “vehicle” I was given.) That’s probably the most simplistic way of putting it.
What would you say to someone who is unsure about applying?
I’d tell them that they need to try to get into what could be the greatest and most life-changing experience that they’ve ever gone through.