Member Spotlight

Member Profile: Auja Little

To promote new connections in business and at events, NAIOP DC|MD’s Membership Committee is pleased to introduce a new feature in Developments and on naiopdcmd.org: Member Spotlight.  We are pleased to present Washington REIT’s Auja Little in our third Spotlight.

Ms. Little is a Senior Real Estate Analyst with Washington REIT, where working in the Asset Management department to oversee and maximize performance within the firm’s office portfolio.  

She grew up in Texas and went to school in North Carolina but was ultimately drawn north by her interest in learning about real estate and foreign investment.  Since joining NAIOP DC|MD she has quickly taken on an active role, managing the Chapter Mentorship program.  Please make sure to introduce yourself to Auja Little. Here are her responses to our questionnaire:

NAIOP
Q: Please describe your involvement with the Chapter (committees, awards, service)
A: I have had the pleasure of being an active participant in community service with the NoVa Developing Leaders as well as their mentorship program; I joined the REEL committee shortly after switching memberships to the DC | MD chapter, where I now serve as the chair of REEL’s Mentorship Program.

Q: Why and when did you join NAIOP?
A: I joined NAIOP about two or three years ago because it was a fantastic organization to network and build relationships with thought leaders and both young and senior real estate professionals in the DC region.

Q: What has surprised you about your membership?
A: The quality of the networking was beyond my expectations. DC | MD draws a number of influential real estate professionals and I have made great connections through the chapter’s committees and events.

Q: What is your favorite annual event?
A: I’m a little biased so I’d say the REEL Mentorship Program, although if I had to put that aside – Networking at the Nats.
 
Career
Q: How long have you been in Real Estate / Construction, and what drew you?
A: I’ve been in real estate for about five years, exploring various sides including administration, legal, acquisitions & investments, and asset management. I found my passion for real estate when I was in college; I had jumped from major to major looking for a field that would allow me to use my analytical mind and my creative, entrepreneurial side. In my first job at a private investment firm, I was introduced to the idea that real estate could be a vehicle for innovation, impact, and creativity with a fair amount of number crunching. After sitting on the sidelines of a few acquisitions and dispositions, I was hooked. No day was the same, we were constantly looking for new or better solutions, and the career opportunities were much more appealing than the prospects that were being introduced to me through my program as a Finance major. Senior year of college, I knew I had a career to pursue.

Q: Who has inspired or mentored you in the industry?
A: I have had several mentors throughout my career; I know the intrinsic value of mentorship to one’s career progression and am lucky to have had great mentors. My first mentor was the smart, well-traveled and highly motivated general counsel at my first private investment firm. She taught me the basics of real estate – how to negotiate contracts and deals, who the players were, how things were structure – and gave me room to grow and ask a million questions. I had another great mentor at my second job at a healthcare real estate firm who led me through his thinking as we modeled potential investments and never missed an opportunity to teach me about the acquisition process. Without these individuals, I certainly wouldn’t be where I am now!

Q: Describe your responsibilities in your current position
A: In my current role, I work directly under our VPs within Asset Management to maximize performance of our Office portfolio, which totals over four million square feet across the DC and Virginia. I focus on strategy, forecasting, leasing, and capital spend alongside the rest of the Asset Management team and also assist in the acquisition and disposition of any office assets.

Q: Describe a professional success you are proud of
A: I’d have to say Washington REIT’s disposition of its suburban Maryland office portfolio. It was a $240 million transaction with Brookfield that closed in 2016 and was one of the most valuable experiences I have had at the firm; the deal took a year to close and I had the opportunity to learn throughout the entire process.
 
Personal
Q: Are you originally from the Metropolitan area?
A: I am not! I grew up in the South and am a recent transplant.

Q: What is the starkest change you’ve noticed to the area?
A: I’m relatively new, but DC is constantly evolving!

Q: Where did you come from and why?  Have you adopted any local sports teams?
A: I grew up in Dallas, Texas, went to school in North Carolina, and relocated to DC right before beginning my current position. DC is a hub of foreign investment and my interest in working with real estate internationally brought me to the city. I’m not big into professional sports but I have a growing affection for the Caps.

Q: Describe your non-work life: hobbies, family, service, etc.
A: I’m an active tennis player – you can catch me on the courts at least once a week. I love exploring museums, historic houses and gardens, attending cultural events, trying out new restaurants, and traveling (this year it’s Morocco, Austria and Germany). I also serve on the board for DC Habitat for Humanity’s Young Professionals chapter and run a book club (so I’m motivated to continually read).

Q: What’s on your TV screen when it’s on?
A:Murder mysteries, like Broadchurch and Elementary – I circulate through a number of them depending on the time of year.


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