Leadership Spotlight Featuring Shelby Ballow, Dowling Construction
Tuesday, May 28, 2024
by: Melanie Bamba Milinkevich, President of BOMA San Diego + Chief Operating Officer of RSI Roofing

Section: Leadership Spotlight

Shelby Ballow is an award-winning Project Manager at Dowling Construction, as well as a returning Member-at-Large on the Board of Directors, and the Chairperson of the Awards, Scholarships + TOBY Committee. Her prior accolades include Chairperson of the Year and the Ray Magnussen Associate Member of the year!

BOMA San Diego: Shelby, I am so thrilled to have you return to the board again! Your expertise in running events and inspiring new engagement amongst membership have always been notable, but these last few years specifically I’ve witnessed the amazing way that you have developed the TOBY (The Outstanding Building of the Year) Awards from zero entrants to multiple. The TOBY is such a hallmark distinguishment for commercial buildings, yet we often see property management teams shy away from entering. What would you share with property managers for why they should consider a TOBY and what factors might complicate that choice? 


Shelby: A TOBY is the most prestigious award you can win in our industry. It will differentiate your property from others, giving you a great marketing tool to utilize. The entire process makes you learn your building from top to bottom and get all your ducks in a row, which will make you grow as a Property Manager while bonding with your team. 


The two biggest constraints are things we often hear in construction: time & money. There are fees that you will need to work into your budget. You’ll also need your Owner to be on board with the team spending time on the application, conducting the tour, and having your vendors put in some extra elbow grease to get everything in tip-top shape.


BOMA San Diego: This may be taboo to discuss, but every now and then a bold BOMA member asks us what it takes to get an official nomination for the membership awards presented at our Annual Gala. The main awards are Ray Magnussen Associate Member of the Year, Chairperson of the Year and Principal Member of the Year. You and I know the drill, it’s not rocket science, but it does take a bit of effort to get noticed. What advice would you give to the BOMA member that is looking to join that special list of candidates, in any category? 


Shelby: I cannot stress this enough- GET INVOLVED and stick to your word. Sitting on a committee is one thing, but sub-chairing, sponsoring, and showing up early to set up events is where the Award nominations come from. Promote BOMA throughout your daily work life, bring potential members to things, or forward BOMA opportunities to them. We have eyes and ears everywhere watching :D 


BOMA San Diego: Kind of along those same lines, what advice would you give to a new member who is in the first year of their BOMA journey? 


Shelby: Remember that BOMA prides itself on growing relationships through our membership. At the end of the day, we are all there for business, but people you meet in BOMA become real friends and you build trusted partnerships. It takes time, so be patient. 


BOMA San Diego: Anything you would change about your first couple of years in BOMA? 


Shelby: I would have delegated more while I was the chair of Special Events. It’s common now for committees to have sub-committees for each event, but 7 years ago that was not the norm.


BOMA San Diego: If you don’t already know this, Shelby is a doting mother of two, Heath and Delilah. We always joke about the challenges of being a working mother with two toddlers, and the constant struggles we face trying to achieve balance. I think Oprah said something like, you can have it all, but you just can’t have it all at once. What do you find the most challenging about being a working mom?  


Shelby: The “rush”. Mornings are rushed to get everyone (including pets) fed, presentable, packed, and in the car so I can be at work at a somewhat reasonable time. Evenings are rushed to get some quality time together, cook dinner & clean up, baths & beds, plus the mountain of laundry that just keeps growing. There is never enough time in the day!


BOMA San Diego: So I wasn’t at all surprised when you called me to talk about reducing your workload. I want to say you officially moved to part-time with Dowling Construction so that you can focus on parenting, which I love so much as a personal choice. Tell us about the change, and what prompted your decision. 


Shelby: My childcare situation was changing and after reviewing the options, Brandon and I came to the decision to try being home. We have discussed the idea of homeschooling, so this will be a test-run if I can handle it (Heath is pre-school age right now).


BOMA San Diego: I understand whole heartedly where you are coming from and totally support your decision! What does your role at Dowling look like now? 


Shelby: I am now working part-time as a Business Development Manager for Dowling and will no longer be directly involved with any tenant improvement projects. I’ll be working flex hours (be patient with email responses), staying active in BOMA, and overseeing client satisfaction. 


BOMA San Diego: You know what I love about Dowling Construction is that it’s a small, family friendly and locally owned shop, and I love nothing more than supporting the local economy. But you and I both know there are sometimes drawbacks to working for a small company versus a big corporate institution. Drawing from your experience, what advice would you give to the working professional that is considering working for a smaller company?


Shelby: This is a hard one to answer since the only “corporate” experience I have is working for Cheeseburger in Paradise while I was in college. What I do know is, if anything family-related comes up, my bosses said “do what you need to do and keep us in the loop” every time. My colleagues have pooled resources to help each other out in tough times, and we show up to celebrate each other’s milestones. When corporate companies say they are “family-oriented” it’s a talking piece, when small companies say that, it’s backed up with actions.


BOMA San Diego: Lastly, is there any general career advice you want to share with the audience? And please include a recommendation for your favorite leadership book! 


Shelby: My best advice is a find a mentor who you can trust to real talk with, whether it be about money, work or family problems, or career opportunities you’re afraid to explore. It’s helpful to have someone in your corner. 

Book Recommendation: The B Words – 13 Words Every Woman Must Navigate for Success by Tricia Kagerer. 


Thank you for being an amazing BOMA Leader, Shelby!