Ransom thrives on change at rapidly growing company
Robin Ransom adjusts to change quickly. “I like the challenge of new things,” she says. “I can adapt to multiple scenarios.”
A little over a year into her role as chief financial officer at Commonwealth Commercial Partners, a Henrico County-based commercial real estate services firm, Ransom is finding that the real estate industry changes on a daily basis.
“It’s very volatile,” she says. “Every day is different.” And different is what Ransom is all about.
The West Virginia native began her career in the tax arena but soon ventured into different areas of accounting as well as different types of companies.
When she decided to get an MBA, she chose William & Mary because she wanted an institution that offered diversity in programs and students. “I wanted to go to a place where there weren’t a bunch of accountants in my class,” she says. “Everyone in my class had different backgrounds, and that was great for me.”
An almost 20-year-old firm, Commonwealth had never had anyone in the capacity of CFO before Ransom, a Certified Public Accountant, joined the team. At the time, it was undergoing dramatic growth with an increasing set of financial needs. The firm offers asset management, property management, sales and leasing in 22 states. It currently manages 15 million square feet of space and 225 properties.
“Robin was fearless, jumping into an industry where she didn’t have any experience,” says Commonwealth’s CEO Mark Claud. “There was no rule book, no job description. She had to start from scratch and build a team at a time when we were experiencing extraordinary growth.”
Last December the company took over management of a 2.1-million-square-foot portfolio with 32 properties. Ransom was instrumental in helping the process run seamlessly.
“There were multiple levels of reporting back to the client,” she says. “I helped guide the staff on how we were going to accomplish this. It was a huge undertaking not only for me but also my staff.”
A key member of the leadership team, Ransom compares managing real estate to handling 200 individual businesses, all under the same umbrella organization. “Each property is a stand-alone business,” she says. “I am involved in the details of the properties and the portfolios.”
Ransom is practical and flexible in her work, says Brian Farmer, chairman of the business section at Richmond law firm Hirschler Fleischer. “She is a listener and a learner. She develops a lot of information before she comes up with a solution.”
Even though Ransom doesn’t sell real estate services, she has made a major financial impact on the company. She developed a monthly reporting system that established a budget and forecast, helping the company understand the financial performance of each of its divisions. “A lot of times financial statements take a back seat to growing the company,” she says. “We can now say what we are going to accomplish and measure against it every month.”