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People of Stanford Research Park: Nancy Smith

by SRP on August 22, 2023
Get to Know: Nancy Smith, Who Brings Her Sense of Hospitality to Property Management

Stanford Research Park Assistant Property Manager, Cushman & Wakefield

If, during the most recent men’s World Cup, you enjoyed watching any of the matches at The Hub, you have Nancy Smith to thank. The Stanford Research Park property manager has soccer in her blood, having played (and even refereed!) for most of her childhood and married a man who also happens to love soccer. Nancy rightfully knew a series of World Cup events at The Hub would draw many from the community to share in their love for the beautiful game.

The Bay Area native, who now calls Fremont home, graduated from San Jose State with a degree in hospitality management and business. She worked at various hotels throughout the Bay Area—until the pandemic. All of a sudden, Nancy found herself working from home in a limited capacity for a hotel on life support. A natural optimist, Nancy decided to take the opportunity to reevaluate her career path. Her two young kids were growing, and she hungered for more flexibility to spend time with them. Yet she loved the customer service aspect of her work and didn’t want to lose the ability to forge those human connections. In time, she decided to part from the long and rigorous hours of hotel management for something new.

Hospitality’s loss was our gain. In January 2022, Nancy joined the Stanford Research Park community as a property manager. Through Cushman & Wakefield, she’s an essential member of the team that manages seven large buildings across the Research Park. From the moment she arrived, she hit the ground running, playing an integral role in The Hub’s successful opening. Those who work in one of her buildings are likely familiar with her warm and friendly presence. She always makes a point to strike up conversation and get to know tenants as she makes the rounds to ensure needs are being met and buildings are running efficiently.

We’re excited for you to get to know Nancy Smith, yet another person who makes Stanford Research Park a unique and special place.

Nancy and colleagues at Stanford Research Park's Bike to Work Day Breakfast.
What was your first paying job?

I was actually a youth soccer referee. From about 12 years old, my parents would drop me at the field, and I would spend my weekends refereeing little kids’ soccer games. At the first game I reffed, I made a terrible call. I totally ruined the game and felt pretty bad. But the coach just kept yelling and yelling at me, and I didn’t know what to do. I was just 12 years old! So I red carded him and walked away. But I stuck with it, and I reffed through the end of college. It was my fun, weekend side job and how I earned my Christmas money, as I called it. And you can bet that I learned from the start how important it was to make the best calls possible. People are passionate about sports, even little kids’ sports!

The best advice I ever got was a tough pill to swallow at only about 23 years old but has proven to be great advice over time...A more senior-level colleague said to me, 'If you don’t know how to swim, you’re going to sink.' I knew what he meant—that eventually, you’re going to have to learn to teach yourself certain things to succeed.

Nancy Smith, Assistant Property Manager, Cushman & Wakefield

What city do you consider your hometown?

I have two hometowns. I was born in Santa Clara. When I was in first or second grade, my family moved to Milpitas. I have great memories of living in both these towns. When I look at them now, they're just so different. But they still feel like home because I have family in both cities—including my husband’s family in Milpitas, where he also grew up. When I visit both, I just get good vibes.

What accomplishment are you most proud of?

I have two kids. My son is 12, and my daughter is seven. I know it may sound corny, but they inspire me. I definitely want to make the world a better place for them. And I want to keep pushing them to do well in school and be good human beings. When people recognize that you’ve done a good job parenting, it’s inspiring and keeps me motivated to raise them as well as I can.

What is the best or worst advice you’ve ever received?

The best advice I ever got was a tough pill to swallow at only about 23 years old but has proven to be great advice over time. I still think about it every day. It was from a more senior-level colleague at one of my first hotel jobs. He said to me, “If you don’t know how to swim, you’re going to sink.”

I knew what he meant—that eventually, you’re going to have to learn to teach yourself certain things to succeed. Sometimes you just have to figure it out. To this day, if I come across something I don’t know or don’t know how to do, I think of this advice and I try to figure it out before asking for help. As it turned out, the man who gave me this advice was great and taught me many different things—including that being a self-starter impresses the people around you and makes you better at your job.

What is your favorite day-off activity or destination?

Anything having to do with soccer. My daughter loves soccer, and I love watching her play soccer. My nephews are really big into soccer, as well. So we spend a lot of our weekends on the soccer field. Right now, we're really into watching the Women's World Cup. So far, my son would rather play video games. We’ve told him soccer is in his blood, so maybe one day he’ll realize it! My husband has started playing an adult soccer league. It’s co-ed, so I’m starting to feel the pull to start up again…


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