Georgianna W. Oliver is the Founder of Package Concierge, which was acquired by Gibraltar Industries (Nasdaq: ROCK) in February 2017.
Georgianna began her career in multifamily as an aid to the U.S. House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee, where she focused on housing and tax. As the government affairs representative for The National Affordable Housing Management Association she lobbied Congress and HUD to continue to advocate for equal and quality housing.
After leaving Washington, DC, Georgianna further developed her entrepreneurial spirit which drives her desire to turn problems into opportunities by building successful businesses that provide solutions for multifamily housing. She founded EverGreen Solutions, a consulting firm, and built the budget tool, AptBudget – both were acquired by RealPage, Inc. (Nasdaq: RP).
Georgianna earned her Bachelor of Science from Oklahoma State University.
How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?
Throughout my life, I have searched for ways to make a difference in the world. Solve a problem, create something that will improve our lives, or lead in some way that is significant. At a very young age, I believed that what I chose to do with my time was important. Maybe I had something to prove? I had a tough upbringing and I was determined to set a path toward assuring a better life for me and others. Once you decide that your path is important — you become a natural leader.
How has your previous employment experience aided your current role?
In my early 20s, I worked on Capitol Hill where I learned about protocol and how to push ideas forward within institutional constraints. I learned that research and data matter in supporting your ideas. I also saw the dedication of public servants and gained a respect for those who chose to take on the long days and nights of working for “the people.” I learned how ideas become laws and law become regulations and regulations can change lives.
In my 30s after my time in D.C., I worked in the apartment development and management business. A thankless job no doubt, but I gained insight into the business side of life and accomplished a lot for the communities we developed and managed. I secured several million dollars in federal grants for community programs such “Survival Skills for Women,” an 8-week program to help young mothers run their households, and drug elimination grants with funding for youth and after school programs in on-site community centers.
It was in my 30s that I started my first entrepreneurial venture, EverGreen Solutions and sold it in 2009 directly after an unsuccessful bid for U.S. Congress in 2008 (I won the Democratic nomination, but lost in the general election). It was a learning experience for sure, but after success in business, I wanted to challenge myself and give back in a significant way.
After selling my company to RealPage, Inc. (Nasdaq:RP), I worked there for three years and then set out to launch Package Concierge, Inc. which again, was acquired – this time being sold to Gibraltar Industries (Nasdaq:ROCK) in 2017.
During my time at RealPage and now as part of Gibraltar, I have gained an understanding of how large companies embrace innovation and new ideas to increase and maintain their value. It is a balance through strategic acquisitions and an 80/20 approach to day-to-day management and improving the performance of current operations.
What advice can you offer to women who want a career in your industry?
Real estate development and technology are both male dominated industries still today, but it is changing very quickly. Advice I would offer would be to always be respectful of those who come before you, but be determined to make your mark in a way that is truly significant and makes a difference.
What is the most important lesson you’ve learned in your career to date?
Always keep moving forward. Try to do something every day that furthers your goals and you will get there more quickly….
How do you maintain a work/life balance?
I try to maintain work/life balance by (trying) to limit my business travel to every other week. It can be hard. It is important that whatever you are doing each day you give 100 percent when you can. Like most women who work, I have missed activities at school and a few games here and there, but my child knows he is my #1 priority over anything else. I want to believe it is good for him to have a Mom he is proud of — and I want to always make sure he is.
What do you think is the biggest issue for women in the workplace?
The biggest issue for women in the workplace is their lack of mentors or champions. In order to advance, you need someone to “show you the ropes” and too often professional women are trying to keep their head above water juggling all the demands on their time that mentoring falls by the wayside. At this point in my career, I believe the most important thing I can do is mentor and pull up the next generation. I am blessed to have several young women in my life that inspire me!
How can we encourage more women to start their own business?
Teach them how to build a business.
How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life? My new CEO, Frank Heard, said to me “As leaders we do not get paid to manage what exists today, we get paid to create what could exist tomorrow.” This statement really resonates with me.
What do you want to professionally and personally accomplish in the next year?
Personally, I am excited that my son Teddy, is graduating from high school and starting his first year of college at Stonehill College! Professionally, I plan to launch a new product for self-serve apartment tours, called Tour24. My entrepreneurial spirit is still strong!
What are the top three tips you can offer to an entrepreneur starting out? Research everything you can about the product – keep in mind that your idea will change and evolve as you see what the market will embrace. Be open to new ideas, but remain focused and diligent, and you will find a way to build a profitable business.