As Stream continues to grow its business and people, we are taking this opportunity to spotlight our talented employees from all service lines, cities, and departments. These individuals are selected because they have made a significant impact on Stream, the commercial real estate industry, and the local community. We are focusing most recently on taking a closer look at Women of Stream who are making an impact at the company, in the industry, and their communities.
For those that don’t already know her, we would like to shine a spotlight on:
Virginia Swint, Vice President of Construction, Atlanta
Virginia leads Stream’s Atlanta construction team and all construction activities for the firm’s Atlanta-area institutional and private clients. Before joining Stream, she served as Senior Construction Manager of Development for RangeWater Real Estate, overseeing the construction of a portfolio of over 4,000 multi-family units exceeding $770M in value. Virginia is currently pursuing an MBA at Emory University’s Goizueta Business School. She’s a member of the Urban Land Institute (ULI) and serves on Emory University’s Senate Campus Development Committee.
What are the three most important characteristics that make you successful in your role?
I’ve always loved construction and building things, there’s nothing more fulfilling than seeing a project through to completion. It’s important to champion your team to thrive and achieve success and to work with passionate people who love what they do. We invest in our team and have high-performance expectations. I always try to look at challenges with a progressive construction mindset, meaning that each challenge is faced by the team as a whole—so it’s us vs. the problem, instead of one party against another.
Which aspects of your job do you enjoy the most?
I enjoy the design process, probably because I’ve always loved art and architecture. During project execution, I enjoy the opportunity to problem solve and help others do the same.
What was it that initially drew you to Stream?
After graduating from Georgia Tech, I worked for a developer in Atlanta that focused on multi-family development projects across the Southeast. I was traveling extensively for work and had pushed myself hard on pursuing my MBA. I was jumping from plane to plane and from class to class; truthfully, I didn’t feel like I was doing my best work. I began searching for a role that would allow me to challenge myself and be a good fit for my goals personally and professionally. Stream presented the challenge I was looking for.
Now my average week is looking a little different with a new daughter and I hope that there will be more normalcy for the construction management side of the business when I return from leave.
What does success look like to you?
Personally, I strive more for balance than success. If you work hard and you’re passionate and do your homework, you can achieve your maximum potential. In 2021, I want to amplify my team’s confidence. My goal is for them to source their own deals and execute them to the best of their abilities. They’re well on their way, thanks to the guidance of our fearless leader, Billy Stark.
How does the organizational culture at Stream support you and your goals?
Stream is open to really progressive ideas, which I love. Ideas can be shared and will be listened to, and there is no resistance to pivoting, if a change will be beneficial.
How would your colleagues describe you?
I hope they would describe me as a disruption with purpose. I’m not looking to change things just for the sake of change, but to strive for excellence for the team as a whole. I hope to always find new ways in which we can better serve our clients, and help my team find those ways too. There’s rarely a perfectly run project when it comes to construction, but we endeavor to deliver the best service possible.
What kind of projects are you working on now?
We’re currently working on a handful of office buildouts for clients; however, the majority of our work is in the industrial sector. We have a great relationship with many of the large industrial developers, and that’s our main focus right now. We’re also working on several capital improvement projects that came out of the pandemic.
CRE has traditionally been a male-dominated industry, have you seen a shift in recent years?
Yes, though not a large enough shift. Commercial real estate as a whole has a long way to go. I hope to see more females in the industry—and specifically in construction.
When I first started out, it was tough to obtain approval or acceptance from experienced construction professionals. But I just kept talking because I knew I could provide value, and they were going to hear about it whether they liked it or not.
We know there are females out there in the industry, we just have to hire, guide, and support them.
What advice would you give to the next generation of female CRE leaders?
Don’t be quiet! Be persistent. Be tenacious and relentless, take up room and speak your mind—and don’t apologize for doing so.
How important is it to have female role models and mentors in the workplace? And have you mentored, or do you plan to mentor, other women in the workplace?
It’s imperative to have a mentor to keep your sanity, especially in construction. I was mentored in ULI’s Young Leaders program, my mentor was the head of real estate development for Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. She had a really interesting role, and I learned so much from her. I’ve also had colleagues who were wonderful mentors; I will return that favor when I finish my MBA and can become a mentor for other females in the industry.
What advice have you received that you wish you would have learned earlier?
From my colleague, Anna Chisholm at RangeWater: give yourself more credit for the things you accomplish—great advice for inexperienced professionals working on their first few jobs.
Who inspires you and why?
My female friends from undergrad are all amazing women, and I’m in awe of what they’ve accomplished both personally and professionally. They expect a lot of themselves, and they expect the same of me.