Mary Doyle landed an entry-level job at one of Boston’s largest commercial real estate firms 32 years ago with no guarantees that she would advance particularly far in a male-dominated field. By the age of 25, Doyle was managing a five-building office park in Woburn. Today she oversees a portfolio of more than 3,000 buildings from Connecticut to Maine for Cushman & Wakefield in Boston.
After graduating from the College of Holy Cross, the Raynham native started out at R.M. Bradley as an assistant. A supervisor encouraged Doyle to apply for a job as an assistant property manager, with the somewhat stereotypical observation that women had a knack for making properties look presentable. That led to an opportunity that transported Doyle from the company’s Back Bay headquarters to the suburban landscape of Woburn, where she was put in charge of the five-building Unicorn Park for landlord MetLife.
In an era where property budgets were typed up by hand, Doyle was quick to sense the potential for technology to drive efficiencies in property management. She commandeered an unused computer and took Microsoft Excel classes to modernize the workflow. Technology didn’t help prepare her, however, for unexpected hiccups, like visitations to the property by flocks of geese, foxes and a snapping turtle that blocked the entrance to one office building.
“It looked like a dinosaur. Every tenant was standing and looking out the window to see what I was going to do,” she recalled.
Having successfully dealt with wildlife emergencies and day-to-day responsibilities, Doyle’s assignments expanded to a 15-building portfolio throughout Greater Boston.
The relationship with MetLife ownership led to an opportunity for career advancement at its newly-formed New England property management arm, MS Management Services. That company was acquired by Cushman & Wakefield in 1996, where Doyle has advanced from portfolio manager to managing director overseeing properties for large corporate clients including J.P. Morgan, Rockpoint Group and TA Assoc.
“You don’t go from secretary to managing director of a major commercial real estate broker without bringing some serious heat,” Cushman & Wakefield Managing Director Linda McDonough wrote in her nomination of Doyle for a Women of FIRE award. “The industry has changed drastically since Mary started out as an executive assistant, but she has evolved with it, and she continues to inspire other female business leaders to enter the commercial real estate field.”
Successful real estate executives tend to spot opportunities years ahead of the pack, and Doyle was active in promoting the growth of Boston’s Fort Point neighborhood long before it became one of the nation’s premiere tech hubs. She became a director of the Friends of Fort Point Channel in 2002, representing GE Capital, then the owner of the Independence Wharf office tower at 470 Atlantic Ave.
“It was very challenging to talk tenants into going into the Seaport, but this was an organization that was very focused on activating the Channel and making that portion of Boston the next big destination,” said Doyle, now the organization’s treasurer. “The focus has been on bringing people down to the water and it’s rewarding to give back to the community on that type of project.”