A Profile of Mimoza Novaj
Driven Adaptable Construction Leader

Marilyn Thomas

Mimoza Novaj
Senior Project Manager
Cushman & Wakefield

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are many routes that lead to careers in facility management and they’re all valuable because the industry is constantly evolving. Those who succeed may have been exposed to the skilled trades at an early age, gotten their start through volunteering at their local school, or were fascinated with building operations.

Mimoza Novaj attended John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, with the intention of pursuing a career with the federal government. She earned a BA in forensic psychology with a minor in criminal justice because she thought a psychology background could prove useful – and she was right.

Now, as a Senior Project Manager for Cushman & Wakefield, Mimoza relies on an understanding of the mind and human behavior to deal with negotiating construction deadlines for demanding customers. She is high-energy, high performing, and has demonstrated the ability to quickly work up the ranks in the construction industry starting from an administrative position.

While she was completing her studies, she got involved in residential property management, and the commercial side of real estate fascinated her. She learned how to read plans with engineers and had them walk her through buildings and navigate the operations of a property.

“That’s where I established a baseline skill set reading plans and understanding them,” said Mimoza.

When Mimoza decided to leave New York almost 8 ½ years ago, she had no job opportunities lined up. She went through temp agencies which ended up working out well for her. Cushman & Wakefield in Florida gave her the opportunity to start off as a temp project coordinator.

“About a month into doing that, my friend who at the time was my boss was pretty impressed with my fast-paced abilities,” said Mimoza.

At Cushman, she was led towards the Humana account where she currently builds out senior care facilities in Texas and Louisiana.

“The beauty of the challenge is that each municipality gives you code interpretations, which keep me on my toes -- even though what we’re building are typical 7,000 square foot spaces with the same finishes, and the same product,” said Mimoza. “I still must analyze how each market runs their project, whether they’re fast or slow paced, whether they hit materials issues – whatever the case may be. It’s been very interesting.”

While shifting from living in the Big Apple and working in Florida, Texas, and Louisiana has been a cultural change for Mimoza, she’s adapted to a slower pace and stays fit through yoga, running, and lifting weights.

When she’s not working on-site or remotely, she’s playing with her two kittens. Professionally, she’s involved in Construction Real Estate Women (CREW), a global organization that advances all women in commercial real estate through business networking, industry research, leadership development, and career outreach.

Mimoza is co-chair for CREW’s UNITE Committee, which is part community outreach program and part DEI initiatives. Last year, they hosted a bingo event that supported a local not-for-profit organization called One Purse, which resells gently used high-end handbags. The funds from those sales go to support and provide resources for human trafficking survivors. At CREW, Mimoza is working to ensure that diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts are acknowledged and incorporated within the organization.

As women are still a small minority in the construction industry, Mimoza frequently offers career advice to interns regardless of gender. When they ask her what made her go into construction and if she went to school for that, Mimoza replies, “No, honestly, I didn't and I don't knock it. If you feel that that's the way you want to go, you know, for school, for your education, then by all means do so.”

She continued, “But take advantage of the building engineers, the site supers from the contracting side who are actually on the field day to day. Sit down with them and talk to them and try to learn the ins and outs of it. It'll get you along the way a whole lot faster than any school can really provide you.”

Mimoza puts a heavy emphasis on the value of clear communications. Email correspondence is key, especially when there's so many different individuals involved, including reporting managers, program managers and team leads.

“We’re constantly communicating with all parties, so they know where I am with my projects, each project’s financial impacts and if there’s potential for delays,” said Mimoza.

Mimoza explains that clear communications are vital because there are always management-level people who don’t necessarily understand construction, so you must speak in laymen’s terms and bring understanding to every situation.

Gaining the respect and trust of clients is an ongoing campaign that Mimoza handles by being very open and honest from day one about timelines, deadlines, and possible roadblocks.

“I do have a bit of a trucker mouth, which they find endearing. They know I’m not just blowing smoke,” she laughed.

 

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