Industries Commercial Real Estate

Property director balances people and numbers

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Print this page by M.J. McAteer

For Shaun Sullivan, managing 1.8 million square feet of office, retail and industrial properties and a staff of eight for one of Virginia’s largest commercial real estate firms is a lot like being a juggler. “I can be juggling dozens of balls in the air,” says Sullivan, director of property services in Thalhimer’s Fredericksburg office.

“My job is fast-paced, with never a dull moment, and I like the balance of interacting with people and backroom number crunching.”

Managing an asset requires Sullivan to interact with building owners, tenants and vendors who provide security, maintenance and other services. “I must pay acute attention to detail,” she says. “I’ve learned that if you don’t, there are consequences.”

Sullivan started out in the retail industry, working as a merchandising manager for a small chain of retail stores before becoming the Virginia district manger for Dress Barn at age 25. In 1991, after marrying and moving to Fredericksburg, she and her husband, Neil, founded Sullivan Properties Inc., a commercial brokerage and management firm.

By 2008, the firm had amassed the largest portfolio in Fredericksburg: sales and leasing of more than 2.6 million square feet and a management portfolio of more than 1 million square feet. At about that time, Thalhimer came calling. The large Virginia commercial real estate firm, a member of the Cushman & Wakefield Alliance, proposed a merger because it wanted to get a toehold in the fast-growing Stafford County area.

Before the merger, Sullivan worked as the firm’s director of operations. Today, her husband heads the brokerage section of Thalhimer’s Fredericksburg office, while Shaun oversees property management and pursues management accounts.
Curtis Mummau, Thalhimer’s first vice president for commercial property services in Richmond, has known Shaun for a decade. “Shaun possesses a high level of understanding of business practices and what it takes to be successful,” he says. Mummau points to her Certified Property Manager (CPM) designation as proof of her dedication to providing quality services to clients.

Sullivan is particularly proud of that CPM. “You have to go beyond minimum requirements. Keeping apprised of the latest and greatest building construction and maintenance issues is one way to set you above the competition,” she explains. What hasn’t mattered in her career is being a woman in the commercial real estate sector. “That’s been a non-issue,” she says. “I believe we are coming to an age that gender doesn’t matter.” 

When she isn’t working, Sullivan plays tennis and is an avid skier. She also spent a record-breaking 11 years on the board of the Historic Fredericksburg Foundation. She now sits on the board of the Fredericksburg Academy, which both of her now college-age children attended.

“Shaun has a full agenda from a business and personal standpoint,” says Mummau. “She really understands the balance between work and personal life.” 

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