Origin Stories: Bright Power's Andrea Mancino On Learning From The Low Points
This series delves into the myriad ways people enter the commercial real estate industry and what contributes to their success.
Andrea Mancino started at Bright Power, an energy and water management company, as an intern and has a made her way all the way up to the position of executive vice president. Today, she oversees a team of engineers, 50% of whom are women.
Bisnow: How did you get introduced to CRE?
Mancino: I started out my career performing energy audits on residential properties, but I wanted to make a bigger impact. I saw there was a need to reduce carbon emissions from buildings and knew that working on larger multifamily buildings would have an even bigger impact. So, I shifted my career to focus on those buildings. And New York City certainly has a large stock of multifamily buildings!
Bisnow: What was your first job in CRE?
Mancino: My first job in CRE was at Bright Power! I started as a project manager helping to make multifamily existing buildings more efficient, reducing their carbon footprint.
At the time, Bright Power was quite small and relatively new — around 15 people (we’re now around 160!). I wanted to be a part of something that was making a difference and had the potential to really grow. The organization has certainly done just that.
Bisnow: What kind of education, certification or official training do you have in CRE? How critical was it to landing your first big role?
Mancino: I hold a variety of certifications. I’m a Certified Passive House Consultant, Certified Building Commissioning Professional, LEED Green Rater, Building Performance Institute Multifamily Building Analyst, BPI Building Envelope Professional and more! Having certifications like these is a clear indicator that a professional has taken care to learn that specific skill or tool, and to keep those certifications, you need to complete continuing education requirements. I encourage my team to seek certifications, and keep them, as part of their professional development. I didn’t have all of these certifications when I landed my first big role. It was all about persistence, drive and ambition!
Bisnow: What is one skill you wish you had coming into CRE?
Mancino: A deep understanding of net operating incomes and all of the variables. It took a while to develop this knowledge and understand how to “speak the language” of property managers/owners when discussing how energy efficiency can positively affect their bottom line.
Bisnow: Can you remember a moment where you felt in over your head or you worried this industry wasn’t for you? Did you ever think about quitting? What changed?
Mancino: Fortunately, I have never considered quitting or switching industries. I’m here to stay. Through the energy efficiency consulting work I’ve done over the years, I’ve seen my work translate into measured and realized energy and carbon savings. Also, I’ve consulted on buildings through design, performed construction inspections for those buildings, and then visited the buildings after occupancy.
Knowing I’ve had a real effect on people’s lives in terms of comfort, energy efficiency and sustainable/healthy building materials gives me immense pleasure. I will say that the one time I felt over my head was when I first transitioned from existing buildings to new construction. It was a whole new beast with different requirements and technologies. I was the only project manager on my team at the time, and I had to figure a lot out on my own. It was both invigorating and terrifying at the same time!
Bisnow: What were your early impressions of the industry, good and bad? How has your impression changed?
Mancino: It’s a very homogenous industry. The good news is that, in my circles, I’ve seen a significant increase of women in leadership, and women in construction roles in the past five years. Women are slowly infiltrating senior leadership positions. While it definitely will take time to cut down biased thinking that, unfortunately, still exists, we’re making progress.
Bisnow: Have you had a mentor or sponsor? How did that person shape your future in CRE?
Mancino: I feel very fortunate that a mentor, Andy Padian, helped me break into the city’s energy efficiency network. He taught me the complex art of networking and to always stay humble. You need those skills in CRE, and really, in any industry.
Bisnow: What is a key lesson someone taught you, either kindly or the hard way?
Mancino: This sounds cliché, but “stay humble.” As I’ve grown in the ranks over the years, I’ve always kept my personal journey close to me when speaking with emerging professionals.
I’ve made it a big part of my career to mentor people, make myself available and provide direct, unfiltered advice, even when it’s not what someone wants to hear. I can only hope that the next generation of professionals in the CRE and energy efficiency world are smarter, stronger and more innovative than ever before.
Bisnow: What do you warn people about when they join the industry?
Mancino: Particularly in the construction world of CRE, there are a lot of unconscious biases related to women in the workforce. As I mentioned, it’s getting better every year, but women need to work twice as hard to be respected in the field. The most effective leaders are those that balance being approachable and charismatic with resolute and unwavering conviction.
Bisnow: If you could do your career all over again, what would you change?
Mancino: I would have gone to graduate school for mechanical engineering. It’s always been something I’ve aspired to do. Perhaps I could still make it work! Other than that, I wouldn’t change anything in my career. The low points, especially, have taught me some of the most valuable lessons in my career that I carry with me today (even if it sucked at the time!).