Blue Fern’s commitment to serve our Seattle-area customers, partners and communities is a reflection of the people we hire. In an effort to highlight the amazing people we work with and the expertise they offer, we’re kicking off an employee spotlight series. Today, Chief Operating Officer Michelle Branley discusses her role and what it’s like being in leadership in a male-dominated industry.
Q: What led you to a career in residential real estate development?
A: It probably started at the dinner table when I was a kid. My dad owned a Lenox dealership and spent much of his career installing heating systems into new construction projects. He also built our houses growing up and helped my cousins build theirs—so you might say that a lot of it was through osmosis and lessons learned by watching and asking questions.
Q: Construction and homebuilding are male-dominated industries. How has it been for you to find success in a workplace that’s not necessarily used to working with or taking direction from women?
A: I’m sure that initially it’s a bit of culture shock for some men in the industry to take direction from a woman. That being said, earned respect is part of any job—regardless of your gender. I know there aren’t a lot of women in this industry, so I take the job seriously and hope that in some small way I'm making the path easier for women who want to enter the field.
Q: There are a lot of builders in the Seattle area. What sets Blue Fern apart?
A: I’m biased, but I think it has a lot to do with the people we hire. We gravitate towards those who take pride in the quality of their work and see each development as a reflection of their unique skills and work ethic. We also do the research to identify neighborhoods that we can bring value to and make people proud to call home.
Q: How do you view your role as Chief Operating Officer? What do you need to do to make the company successful?
A: The short answer is managing the day-to-day operations of our business and making sure that everything runs smoothly. It requires a lot of communication and an even keel. There’s many opportunities to become frustrated, especially during a pandemic, so a lot of my job is making sure everyone is in a safe and compliant environment while having the resources and support they need to keep projects on track and on budget.
Q: What’s the best part of your job?
A: Having the opportunity to contribute ideas that can help grow our business. In some companies, the COO is tasked with executing their CEO’s plan and doesn’t necessarily have a lot of input. Our CEO, Ben Paulus, is different in that he truly values fresh perspectives, ideas and candor. I feel like my voice is heard and valued, and that’s extremely rewarding.
Q: If you wanted people to know one thing about you, what would it be?
A: That I’m a really amazing problem solver and someone who doesn’t shy away from big challenges. I like the chess aspect of navigating seemingly unfixable situations and transforming them into successes.If you want to work with people like Michelle to find your ideal home in the Seattle area, look no further. Reach out to us today or check out our available inventory of luxury townhomes.