Anyone will tell you unequivocally that Robin Assaf is an enthusiastic “people person.” Both in the personal and professional sphere, she has embraced a people-centric philosophy and cultivated relationships that enhance her life, as well as that of others.
After graduating from the University of Massachusetts with a degree in sociology, Assaf thought of becoming a social worker. But after some volunteer experience, she switched to a more entrepreneurial path and has never looked back.
Assaf’s journey in commercial real estate evolved over time, leading to a depth of industry knowledge that would overwhelm the average person. But Assaf works hard to succeed, usually exceeding company goals, as well as her own, and admits that she thrives on achieving “a sense of completion” in serving her clients’ financing needs.
Assaf launched her career at Neworld Bank (now Citizens) where she worked as a commercial real estate officer for seven years. She then joined BankBoston (now Bank of America) and spent 10 years there as assistant vice president of commercial real estate. Assaf arrived at Boston Private Bank & Trust 14 years ago as assistant vice president, was promoted to vice president and now serves as senior vice president.
While clients hold center stage in Assaf’s professional world, her colleagues also play a critical role. She noted that one of the most appealing aspects of her job is the opportunity to collaborate with highly trained professionals.
“I work with some of the best people in the industry, including loan assistants, analysts, investment managers and appraisers at the bank, as well as attorneys and consultants and, of course, my real estate clients,” she said. “We have all built strong relationships with each other. I want them to do well and they want me to do well.”
Each year, Assaf sets a new lending goal: to exceed company expectations and bring in new business.
“Real estate cycles fluctuate. The market could be on fire, or we might face a challenging economy. Tax laws change, new banks move into the area, some banks fail. It’s an ever-changing market, and I enjoy that dynamic,” she said.
Currently, her primary responsibility is to meet with real estate clients to satisfy their financing needs. “I am charged with new business development with new prospects and existing clients,” she said. Her impressive nine-figure portfolio, created during her tenure at Boston Private Bank, clearly demonstrates her success.
“My real estate portfolio is the accumulation of 14 years of work with the bank,” she said, adding: “I’m part of a team. A strong credit committee, a great administrative staff and I all work together.”
Mentoring others has been an integral part of Assaf’s career. For those just about to start the climb to the top, Assaf advises some introspection. “Take job satisfaction very, very seriously. Be yourself and do what you love. Learn what gives you joy,” she said. “Don’t be afraid to take some risks.”
Still enamored with her job after more than two decades in commercial real estate financing, Assaf cited the multi-faceted aspects of the industry that can prove exciting. “If you like business and seeing how wealth is created, real estate is the place to be,” she said.
In addition to her professional accomplishments, Assaf lends her people skills and business strengths to the community. Deeply involved and concerned about Boston’s West End, she served two terms as president of the West End Civic Association, an organization she co-founded 10 years ago, and serves on the advisory board of the West End Community Center
Assaf said that she is happy with the profession she has chosen. “It has enabled me to direct my energy in a way that leads to success,” she said.
According to Assaf, hands-on knowledge is essential to a successful career. “But the journey keeps coming back to the same thing – enthusiastically assisting clients and working with wonderful people,” she said.