“What do you want to be when you grow up?” was always an easy question to answer for Sarah Covington, leasing and project management coordinator with DCT Industrial Trust, Inc., and a recipient of NAIOP’s 2016 Developing Leaders Award. Thanks to her parents’ involvement in the industry, she was exposed early on to the critical role of commercial real estate in both the community and the economy and decided to pursue CRE as her career early on.
After joining NAIOP Houston in 2013, Covington quickly established herself as an esteemed leader within the chapter’s Developing Leaders program. She served as the chapter’s DL chair from 2014-2016 and expanded the visibility and prestige of the chapter’s “Dinner with the Icons” event. In addition to playing a significant role in the growth and success of the DL program, she serves on the chapter’s board of directors. Within the community, Covington is involved with MD Anderson Children’s Cancer Hospital and has served on the host committee for the organization’s annual Christmas benefit since 2012.
In her work with DCT Industrial Trust, Inc., Covington has developed an expertise in both construction management as well as leasing through operation of the company’s 4.5 million-square-foot portfolio, including a completed development pipeline of seven buildings exceeding 1.5 million square feet.
Colleagues cite her professional success and leadership as the foundations for her respected standing within the commercial real estate industry. We sat down with this driven dynamo to find out what sparked her passion for the field and where she sees herself in the years ahead.
NAIOP: What motivated you to get involved in commercial real estate?
Covington: Growing up with parents who worked in the industry, I knew from an early age that I wanted to work in commercial real estate. I quickly developed an appreciation and fascination with all asset types. I saw these spaces as more than just structures, but rather as crucial pieces to how our city and economy function. I have been involved in the industry throughout my life, as a child driving around with my father looking for investment properties, to my young adult years of interning at his company and finally accepting a job with CBRE and now with DCT Industrial.
NAIOP: What is your ultimate career goal?
Covington: More than anything I want to make a positive impact in Houston’s real estate environment. Working in an ever-changing, primarily male-dominated industry, I tackle each day with a determination and an enthusiasm that sets me apart. I take all successes and failures as a way to not only better understand the industry, but also myself. It is with this knowledge that I aspire to have a career of significance, whether it be participating in a game-changing deal, finding solutions that no one else has discovered yet, owning my own company or partnering with my family’s business.
NAIOP: How has being a member of NAIOP helped your career?
Covington: Being a member of NAIOP has not only allowed me to contribute to a respected organization by serving on multiple committees, but it has also given me a platform to establish myself in Houston’s commercial real estate industry. Through NAIOP’s incredible networking opportunities, I have been able to connect with competitors and brokers. My involvement has helped me to develop in the industry and allowed others to learn more about DCT Industrial. It is rewarding when icons and leaders in the industry know of me and my organization as it shows that my hard work is having an impact.
NAIOP: What advice would you offer to other young professionals in commercial real estate?
Covington: I would tell other young professionals in commercial real estate to never be afraid to approach or reach out to others in the industry no matter what their experience or career level. You can establish relationships and learn from everyone and they can learn from you as well.
This is part of a series of profiles of NAIOP’s 2016 Developing Leaders Award recipients, who have distinguished themselves through exceptional commitment and contributions to the industry. This prestigious award was presented at NAIOP’s Commercial Real Estate Conference 2016 in Scottsdale, Arizona. Watch this two-minute video to learn more about NAIOP’s Developing Leaders program. Applications are now open for the 2017 Developing Leaders Award. NAIOP Developing Leaders are invited to apply online for the award. The deadline for applications is Friday, June 23.
Marie Ruff is Communications Senior Manager at NAIOP.