The Art of Compassion
A good property manager is compassionate and able to put herself in the customer’s shoes. This skill comes naturally to Sandra van Deijl. After 15 years with Slavenburg and then 11 years with Prologis in Amsterdam, it’s even become second nature.
Born in The Hague, Netherlands, van Deijl has grown close to Rotterdam, where she now lives. The city’s character fits her perfectly, but if she’s doing business in Limburg, she adapts, just as she does in Belgium, where she’s the contact for both the Flemish and Walloon region.
In that respect, van Deijl compares the job of a property manager to a chameleon. “In the profession, it’s often about empathizing with the customer,” she says. “And about thinking from the client’s perspective—without losing your own authenticity, of course.”
Van Deijl feels comfortable on the Prologis property management team. The team is comprised of totally different characters who complement one another. “It’s really nice,” she says. “You can just be yourself here. I speak my mind and call a spade a spade. And an agreement is an agreement, especially with tight deadlines.”
Construction and maintenance come as second nature to van Deijl, partly because of her upbringing. As a child, if her room needed decorating, her father gave her paste, a table and rolls of wallpaper, saying “OK, do it yourself.” This approach led her to engineering, first as a specialist and now as an all-rounder. She enjoys identifying issues, overseeing projects and brainstorming. “I’ve built up an incredible range of experiences,” van Deijl says. “I realize it when I work with less experienced colleagues. They like to ask my advice. It’s great to share knowledge.”
Van Deijl also enjoys the freedom and diversity of her profession and can’t remember ever going to work reluctantly, despite the pressure. When she started at Prologis, she managed 21 sites, but her portfolio now includes 83. That’s something you do together—not on your own—and as efficiently as possible. “Inventiveness is our trademark,” van Deijl says. “You won’t hear us saying, ‘We don’t have time.’ We always work toward the best solution.”
That’s also why she likes to draw the comparison to a chameleon: “Customers have expectations. It’s our job to meet those expectations as fully as possible. And in doing so, we hold contractual agreements up to the light because Prologis has expectations too. In aiming for the highest possible customer satisfaction score, we have to pull out all the stops and maybe go one step further than others. That’s typical Prologis.”