What AEs Need to Succeed
Angela Shields on communication, education, and service.
Successful association executives are multitalented. Aside from the obvious executive-level skills and boardroom diplomacy, AEs have to be able to recognize opportunities, capitalize on resources, communicate concisely, and never stop expanding their own knowledge. This definition of success is a perfect fit for Angela Shields, RCE, CAE, CEO of the San Antonio Board of REALTORS®, Texas.
Shields began her career with the REALTOR® organization in 1993 in Athens, Ga., as an MLS executive. She later became the CEO of the Athens Area Association of REALTORS® before taking the top post in San Antonio in 2010.
Over the years, she has served as the chair of the Texas AE Council and the Georgia AE Committee. “One thing of which I’m certain is that it is beneficial when AEs have a strong interstate working relationship, especially now that there are so many opportunities for shared services,” she says.
On the national level, Shields has been instrumental on several NAR committees and workgroups, including the AE Committee and RCE Certification Advisory Board; the Data Strategies Committee; the Federal Technology Policy Advisory Board; and the Land Use, Property Rights and Environment Committee.
Participation is a passion for Shields. “I’m involved in state and national committees and workgroups because I believe in the real estate industry,” she says. “We encourage our members to participate, and I wouldn’t ask them to do anything that I wasn’t willing to do myself. Not only is it a great way to learn, but I have met so many of my colleagues from around the country and have formed great friendships.”
Shields says her AE colleagues are more than friends; they’re the most valuable resource for association management best practices. “Having a trusted network of colleagues and peers to turn to when you have questions and want to share ideas is powerful, and building relationships in the industry is crucial,” she says.
One relationship Shields cultivates very astutely is with the media. With her background in communications, she is more than comfortable in front of the camera but strategically shares the spotlight with leadership and members.
“We’ve learned over the years that to be the voice of real estate and a reliable resource for the press, we must have several ‘voices’ prepped and ready to go with our messaging at a moment’s notice. Because we act quickly and have many spokespeople available—both leaders and members—the media come to us on a regular basis,” she says.
Social media also features prominently in San Antonio’s communication strategy. “I am a big believer in the fact that we must use all forms of communication if we want an opportunity to connect with our members,” says Shields. “It’s also a great way to listen to our members and to understand their business at any given moment. I try to live by a general rule: Never post anything I would be embarrassed to see down the road.”
By way of advice for less experienced AEs, Shields offers this on building a successful career: “Never stop learning. We are in an industry that is ever-evolving and no matter the length of our career, we will never know it all.”
San Antonio will provide a great backdrop to the learning and sharing at the 2016 AE Institute. “Everyone should visit the Alamo and Tower of Americas and take the water taxi to the Pearl for great restaurants and shopping,” Shields advises. “And most important, explore the Riverwalk path well past the tourist area to really appreciate the city’s beauty. If you’re spending extra time in the area, take a day trip into the Hill Country. There you might be surprised to find wineries and beautiful scenic views.” Of course no trip to San Antonio is complete without a Texas-size portion of Mexican food. Shields’ top restaurant recommendations are Boudro’s, Rosario’s, and Liberty Bar.