Leadership Spotlight featuring Cali Bird
Friday, May 26, 2023
by: Michele Ignacio, AO Reed

Section: Leadership Spotlight

Cali Bird grew up on the East Coast. She was born in New York and raised in Vermont.  She attended college at the University of Vermont where she earned her BA in Political Science.  She also has her MBA in Business Administration and Management from the University of Massachusetts Lowell.  

In 2007, Cali moved to Boston where she started her property management career.  Her first job was as a Property Management Coordinator with Boston Properties.  In 2015, she moved to San Diego and continued in the same role until being promoted to Assistant General Manager (GM) with Rockhill Management, managing the Aventine in La Jolla.  In 2018, she accepted a role at JLL as an Assistant General Manager, and then was promoted to GM in 2021 and Senior GM in 2022. Becoming a Senior GM is Cali’s top professional achievement to date!

Cali has volunteered with the BOMA Organization for many years. She was a member of the Boston Chapter for 2 years and has been a member of the San Diego Chapter since 2015. In San Diego, she has volunteered on sub-committees for the Annual Golf Tournament, Day at the Races, and Meet the Committees events. In 2023, she earned a seat on the BOMA San Diego Board of Directors and serves as a Member-At-Large Board Liaison to the Special Events Committee.

Outside of work, Cali enjoys spending time with her fiancé Brian, a soon-to-be bonus daughter named Ripley, three dogs Zoe, Mae Bella and Wills, her older sister who lives in Switzerland and her parents who reside in Vermont.

Read below to learn more about Cali and her take on being a leader.

BOMA San Diego: Congratulations on earning a position on the 2023 BOMA San Diego Board of Directors.  What motivated you to join the Board and what are you hoping to achieve this year with your assigned Committees? 

Cali: I had been involved with BOMA and have made so many connections and friendships throughout the years, it has really helped structure my career and certain areas of my personal life as well.  I felt like joining the Board would give me a more hands-on role and allow me to really be part of the amazing work that BOMA does outside of the committees.  I am hoping to continue learning more about BOMA’s advocacy of local politics and how we can use our platform to better face current issues impacting CRE owners and managers.

BOMA San Diego: What is your leadership philosophy? 

Cali: A good leader in my opinion is someone who recognizes their own strengths and weaknesses, as well as those in others and knows how to build an effective team around those strengths.  Staying humble and understanding (and helping others understand) that we are all imperfect people, and when things become stressful, to lean on others for help.  It has taken 10+ years in the business to fully understand you’re only as good as those around you, so empowering others is the greatest way to success.

BOMA San Diego: What are your top three strengths as a leader? 

Cali: Compassion and understanding that things happen that are out of our control.  You can be friendly, and you can be someone’s boss, it’s just learning how to differentiate the two even when it’s not easy. Lastly, taking the time to reward someone for a good job, whether it’s something big or small.  People need to be reminded sometimes that their hard work is being recognized.

BOMA San Diego: How do you set priorities as a leader? 

Cali: In PM, there are a lot of people to please – Clients, bosses, staff, etc. and everyone wants you to prioritize your job differently.  For me, making deadlines is the most important.  If you deem everything as a fire to put out, you’re not doing your job consciously or with much thought.  Prioritize slowing down and doing something right the first time rather than just working like an assembly line.

BOMA San Diego: What steps or tools do you use to monitor your team’s performance? 

Cali: JLL has a lot of internal processes that formalize performance assessment, but I like to check in with my direct reports quarterly to see how their doing, what they need help with, challenges their facing, things they like vs. what they don’t particularly enjoy so we can make sure they’re doing things they can excel at.

BOMA San Diego: Who inspires you and why? 

Cali: Is it cliché to say my fiancé inspires me? Because he does every single day.  He’s calm under pressure, and never worries too much about small things.  He’s happy all the time but works insanely hard while also maintaining an amazing relationship with his daughter who lives in Oklahoma.  Working in Property Management can be pretty stressful, and he inspires me to take a second, breathe, enjoy the life around me and forces me to understand I’m only one person and can only do so much.    

BOMA San Diego: What leadership legacy do you want to leave behind for the next generation? 

Cali: Work hard. Show up on time, and show up when you say you’re going to.  My dad taught me from when I was really young that at the end of the day, the only person who could ever change your life is you.  There is something to be said about putting in the hard work, doing the things you don’t necessarily want to do so you can reach higher and work hard for the things you want.  Most importantly though, I want to continue to push women to be in positions of leadership.  Women have made so much progress in a male-dominated world and I hope that continues.

BOMA San Diego: What is your definition of success?

Cali: My definition of success… I would say success to me is when you’ve created an environment, both personally and professionally, where you are challenged each day and are surrounded by people who foster communication, creativity and push you to be an all-around better person.  Success to me isn’t measured by your bank account or job title, but by your hard work and whether or not it has gotten you to where you imagined yourself to be, which looks different to everyone.