Inside a Female-Led Global CRE Business

Michelle Burrell, Servcorp’s center manager at One World Trade Center, discusses her evolution from receptionist to executive in a company that employs 90 percent women. Servcorp has made it a goal to help women advance in a male-dominated industry.
Michelle Burrell, manager, Servcorp
Servcorp Manager Michelle Burrell

Servcorp is a half-billion-dollar co-working company that operates in 160 locations in 24 countries. Of its approximately 1,000 employees, about 900 are women.

One of them is Michelle Burrell. Hired in 2016 as a receptionist,  Burrell currently occupies the role of center manager for Servcorp’s co-working space at One World Trade Center. Her story reflects the company’s meritocracy-based business strategy.

“Early on, Servcorp made a conscious decision to promote young women from entry-level positions into senior sales and management roles. The natural byproduct of that is what you see today,” Servcorp COO Marcus Moufarrige told Commercial Property Executive.

The gender imbalance in its employee base, however, shouldn’t be perceived as a disadvantageous environment for men. Just the opposite. Moufarrige insists that Servcorp thrives on good ideas, no matter who comes up with them. “I don’t think it makes a difference if you’re a man or a woman. Businesses are successful because of good ideas, strong leadership, teamwork and continued innovation in response to customer needs. This is the way the world should work,” he added. 

Burrell finds Servcorp’s uncommon professional landscape empowering. In an interview with CPE, she describes a normal workday and how she sees her career evolving in the future.

Have you always been interested in real estate? How did you enter the business?

Burrell: No. Surprisingly, I never thought I would be working in real estate. I started in the business working as a receptionist in one of Servcorp’s locations in San Francisco.

What can you tell us about your professional evolution at Servcorp?

Burrell: It has been very educational and an overall experience of growth. I’ve learned so much about how to run a business and how to interact with executives. If I hadn’t started as a receptionist and worked in a variety of roles at the company, I don’t think I would be the professional I am today.

What’s it like working in a predominantly female professional environment?

Burrell: It’s empowering to see women in senior positions working for a global company. I’ve never been part of a company with one female executive, let alone multiple female executives, and that really gives me something to aspire to. Servcorp makes it very clear to employees that if you work hard, you will be rewarded. Most of the managers in the United States are women, and we all support each other. If I have an issue, I know I can call another manager to talk through it and get another perspective.

Tell us about an episode in your real estate career that stuck with you.

Burrell: Since Servcorp is a global company and One World Trade is one of the most recognized addresses around the world, we get many inquiries from professionals with varying backgrounds. A few months ago, I had an inquiry from someone in Brazil who only spoke Portuguese, and I had no idea how I was going to sell an office to them if I couldn’t effectively communicate Servcorp’s value speaking Portuguese. One of my team members recommended that I communicate with them using Google Translate. Surprisingly, after three hours of typing back and forth on Google Translate, we were able to get the deal done and they even invited me out for lunch.

How does a work day look like for you?

Burrell: I start my day catching up with my team and then I make my sales calls. If it’s a great day, I will have multiple tours followed by prepping for new clients. I try to spend 15-20 minutes a day looking over client accounts, ensuring billing accuracy, and I always check in with my current clients to see how their business is going and how we can help.

What are your professional goals?

Burrell: I would love to keep growing within Servcorp and ensure our location at One World Trade Center continues to reach its full potential.