You can’t get a degree in HOA management. So what other path could lead someone to this field? For Matt Davidson, executive vice president at Action Property Management, the answer came through a degree in history and English from the University of California Santa Barbara. A liberal arts background may seem like an unusual path toward an executive position at a property management company, however, the skills he gained in college have proved to be valuable on-the-job tools.
In his various roles at Action, Matt often relies on written communication to pass information along. Whether it is in an email or a board report or something in between, the written word is a powerful tool and his college education prepared him for a lifetime of writing. As a student of history, Matt understands how conflict is resolved or not resolved and, as such, often shapes his thoughts and decisions within a historical framework.
While many people may not see the value of studying the liberal arts, Matt is grateful for an education that taught him how to think critically, how to read carefully, and how to communicate effectively. As an avid reader, Matt has honed his skills to the point where he can read and absorb lengthy legal documents with ease.
A quiet and humble approach to each task defines his leadership style. He is, after all, a thinker. Upwards of thirty percent of Californians live in homeowner’s associations. Why, then do so many people only hear about the negative sides of association living? Why are the positive stories not emphasized? This is a question Matt has pondered in his role as a board member for the Los Angeles Chapter of the Community Associations Institute (CAI), an industry trade group. To address this, he worked with others to create a positive awareness campaign about living within a homeowner’s association. And it’s this same perspective that he brings to what he does at Action – looking for ways to make our service shine a light on the positive elements of living in a community association.
“For Matt Davidson, a college education that taught him how to learn, think, and understand people was the perfect launchpad for a career that requires constant learning, thinking, and understanding. From his start as an assistant for portfolio managers to his current executive role at Action, Matt has grown by applying these traits every day. Others have found different paths to similar positions, but they all share one common trait — they never stop learning.”
It’s no accident that Matt has worked his way up to the highest levels of the industry. He has always been someone who isn’t afraid to work hard to reach a goal. As a young man with a firm commitment to graduate from college debt free, Matt enrolled at the local community college. He got a job and worked 40 hours per week for the two years he was there and continued working full time throughout his additional two years at the university.
From there, like many others in the industry, he more or less fell into a job with a property management company. A former colleague had been moonlighting as a real estate agent and ended up taking a full time position with a property management firm. This colleague had seen Matt’s work ethic and asked him to join the company as his assistant. Matt’s first foray into property management was on the investment management side of things, but within a few months he transitioned to the portfolio management side.
Early on, Matt found himself helping with the company’s largest community and the account proved to be a trial by fire. If something could go wrong there, it did. At one point, the community was involved in fourteen pending lawsuits. At that time, automated technologies were not what they are now and Matt was forced to spend a lot of time in hands-on positions doing property inspections, dropping off checks for board member signatures, and being present on-site as needed. The work was intense, but the training was invaluable.
From there, Matt went on to work with another management company, starting as an assistant and working his way up to regional manager. That position gave him experience managing numerous communities, both old and new. Most importantly, though, it helped him learn the difference between starting a new homeowner’s association and maintaining the well-oiled machine of an established community. In addition to managing portfolios, he also had the chance to work with mid-rise buildings, and eventually became a regional manager overseeing twenty three different associations.
That position was rewarding, but the workload was immense. With no high-rise experience and a background overseeing multiple accounts, Matt saw an opening with Action at Bunker Hill Tower. Though he had a nagging doubt about his qualifications because he had never worked on-site before, he submitted his application and was offered the position.
After spending two years as the general manager at Bunker Hill Tower, senior leaders at Action invited him to apply for the general manager position at Elleven, a new building in Los Angeles. While the building had been open for six months at the time of his arrival, only the first three floors were occupied and the lobby was still a work-in-progress. This position helped to shape his career. Though he had been constantly adding to his resume by earning various industry certifications, the strategic connections to two other adjoining buildings gave Matt the chance to showcase his customer service and relationship-building abilities. His duties as general manager at Elleven proved to be a huge opportunity for growth due to the complexity of ongoing projects being undertaken by the developer that impacted residents and staff over a period of several years.
In 2010, his hard work paid off and Matt was promoted to assistant director for high-rise operations and later moved up to vice president in Los Angeles and ultimately to his current position as executive vice president for the whole company.
For Matt Davidson, a college education that taught him how to learn, think, and understand people was the perfect launchpad for a career that requires constant learning, thinking, and understanding. From his start as an assistant for portfolio managers to his current executive role at Action, Matt has grown by applying these traits every day. Others have found different paths to similar positions, but they all share one common trait — they never stop learning.