This issue of Washington Women is brought to you
by Ernst & Young: “Quality in Everything We Do.”
By Karin Tanabe, for Bisnow on Business
If James Bond got sick of working out of an underground volcano or an Aston-Martin, he would definitely lease a private office from Preferred Offices.
Angie O’Grady, President & COO, shows us how covert the whole operation is. When someone calls for you, they reach a receptionist manned with Evo-technology software. The system shows your picture, your whereabouts, your company info, and how you can be reached. The caller has no idea that the receptionist is also the “Director of First Impressions” for other clients as well.
We have a great view of the afternoon sun bouncing off the Old EOB as we talk to Angie about the business of workspace. Preferred Offices, provider of private and virtual work space, first opened in the Willard Office Building in February 2003 and now leases floors in eight DC area buildings, all coveted locations. Created by Washington legend Oliver Carr, 81, the rapidly expanding company has since doubled its number of locations. Prefer to stare out at the Thames River instead of the White House? The company is going global in the near future.
So how does one become involved in office space? “Right out of college,” says Angie, above, in the “meeting place” at their 1701 Penn site—a kitchen that's so comfy people gravitate there to lounge and confer. She grew up in Atlanta and graduated from Georgia State at barely 21. “But I looked about 12,” she tells us. “I was having difficulty launching myself in the professional world but I could type 100 words per minute. I can thank my father for that.”
So she joined an administrative assistant firm looking for quick employment. “I said, get me a good job in a company where I can grow, and I’ll do the rest myself.” Angie started with executive suite provider Omni Offices in 1986. When she decided her focus was too centered in the secretarial realm, she proposed running a center and her boss took her up on it. In the mid-90’s, Omni Offices was purchased by CarrAmerica along with fellow office space provider HQ. The two were merged to form HQ Global Workplaces. After the merger, Angie left for a brief stint at Cable & Wireless, but was brought back by Oliver Carr to work for him in December 2000.
Above, Angie with long time client William Leedy, who tells us he’s their “quality control.” He started leasing space at 1700 Pennsylvania Ave. in 2004, moved to 888 16th, and is now at 1701 Penn.
For those who are still in the “going to make a Benz out of that Datsun” phase (in the lyrics of Kanye West), Preferred Offices let’s you roll with the big shots. “There is no company that is too small or too large. We have clients like Howard Dean, Microsoft, Newt Gingrich, and the Taiwanese ambassador. Jack Abramoff was even a client when it all went down.”
When the first executive suite was opened in the Willard in 2003, Angie was in the midst of adopting a child. “Having a family was something I spoke to Mr. Carr about when I decided to work for him.” Something he was probably used to as the office space industry is teeming with women.
“There used to be the stereotype that people wanted the receptionists to be women,” Angie tells us. “But now there is so much room to move up internally. Two of our centers are run by fabulous young women who began at reception.” Sounds like others are adopting Angie’s mantra.
One of the perks that goes with the swanky office is the coveted Starbucks coffee machine. And even better than a caffeine buzz is the convenience of full-time support staff. “We coin ourselves as a hotel for business. People are more mobile now and can take advantage of a virtual office. Clients can call you and not even know where you are.” How very 007.
[Disclosure: Bisnow on Business, no less, uses Preferred Offices.]