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The laws aren’t the only things in Brazil that make law school different than the American version. Instead of a three-year graduate program, it follows a five year undergraduate plan. That’s the path that Filipe Santos, Action Property Management’s general manager at The Harrison, took as a young man. Once he completed the degree, however, he pivoted away from the law. As a matter of fact, he pivoted away from Brazil altogether.

Following a strong sense of adventure, Filipe packed up and moved to the Miami area in South Florida, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in business. His first American job was as an assistant manager of a small commercial building in Coral Gables. It was here that he was exposed to a career in property management, although it didn’t stick right away.

Filipe soon made another career move and accepted a position with an import/export firm. In this position, he learned how to deal with stressful situations as he navigated the nuances of foreign governments. The company’s primary clients were in South America, but an unstable economy caused the local currencies to devalue, and his company eventually had to make some changes.

This opened the door for Filipe to transition back into property management, this time working for a small apartment company. Looking back, he sees the vast difference between managing owner-occupied units versus rental units. HOAs are all about service; apartments are all about occupancy rates. Though he has always been dedicated to his job, Filipe found that the sales environment of the apartment job didn’t match his passion for service.

Still in Florida, Filipe decided to transition into the HOA world and began applying for positions in high-rise buildings. Given his passion for service, he was quickly offered the role of assistant general manager at Echo Aventura, a sophisticated condominium located in the city of Aventura, 20 minutes from Miami. Less than two years later after learning and working diligently as an assistant, Filipe received an offer and was promoted to general manager at Brickell Heights, a renowned building complex with over 700 units in an exclusive area of Miami. “Managing large buildings is like running mini-cities,” he said describing his job. With a mix of commercial and residential units and four associations to negotiate, Filipe quickly adapted to his new role.

Instead of pressure to maintain occupancy rates, he was now faced with four boards to please and the complexities of keeping all the systems functioning flawlessly in four buildings. While the position was challenging, Filipe excelled in his duties, pouring himself into the art of service while pursuing all the certifications he needed to fully understand the management of the buildings.

Filipe Santos

General Manager

While the position was challenging, Filipe excelled in his duties, pouring himself into the art of service.

After twelve years in Florida, the longing for adventure again tugged on Filipe. This time, he turned his focus to the west with his sights set on California. With solid relationships in place, Filipe had no trouble securing detailed recommendations from several Brickell Heights board members. Armed with their support, Filipe applied for a regional manager position at Action. Though he wasn’t selected, there was a general manager position open that was a great fit for him. While he was in talks with Action, he was also discussing options with another management company.

Both companies presented excellent offers, but Filipe decided to go with the other option, taking a position as the general manager of Lumina in San Francisco. Lumina was similar in size to Brickell Heights and presented him with another opportunity to manage a mini-city. With over 2,000 residents, it again proved to be a challenging job, but it was a challenge Filipe was determined to conquer.

After two and a half years of successful service at Lumina, one of Action’s recruiters got in touch with him and sold him on The Harrison, a newer building in San Francisco’s SoMa neighborhood. With only one tower and one lobby, the building still boasted the epitome of luxury but with a simplicity that appealed to Filipe. On February 28, 2022, Filipe attended his last board meeting at Lumina. The next morning he made the same drive across the Bay Bridge, but this time he walked into the beautiful lobby of The Harrison as its general manager.

Although the job of a general manager is never easy, taking over The Harrison has allowed Filipe to find a work/life balance that was missing in his previous position. One of the things he enjoys the most about his California home is the cooler weather and gray skies. After twelve years in the Florida heat and humidity, Filipe quickly grew to appreciate the cool climate of the Northern California coast. He also enjoys the proximity of everything city life has to offer. Whether he’s walking or taking public transportation, everything he needs is close by.

“I’m just a guy who works really hard,” Filipe says about his work ethic. He enjoys excelling at his job and is willing to do whatever it takes to rise to the occasion, because that’s what it takes to keep a mini-city running like a well-oiled machine.