Donna Gehnrich is the Operations Manager at BEB Capital, a Port Washington-based real estate development, investment, management, and lending firm.
The firm’s portfolio encompasses more than two million square feet of property on the East coast including industrial, multifamily, commercial, and mixed-use assets, as well as interests in a diverse set of other businesses.
Gehnrich joined the company in 2014 as a paralegal and quickly rose through the ranks, taking on the responsibilities of researching and overseeing the implementation of new software systems that enabled broader efficiencies. Those efforts played a significant role in laying the groundwork to support BEB Capital’s recent growth.
Gehnrich, who also holds a juris doctor degree from Albany Law School, has had a career in law and operations management spanning more than 25 years, with time taken off to raise her family and create a private party hostess/service company.
At BEB Capital, Gehnrich is part of the legal team, although her primary focus is on improving the efficiency of the firm’s operations. This includes meeting with all departments and researching and instituting forward-looking software and policies. Ms. Gehnrich also manages and coordinates investor opportunities and serves as a liaison between BEB Capital’s investors and the executive team.
Born in Pennsylvania but raised on Long Island in Northport, Gehnrich attended Northport High School and then was awarded a BA degree from the State University of New York at Oneonta, where she was on the Dean’s List. After earning her Juris Doctor degree she was admitted to the New York State Bar Association in 1990.
Prior to joining BEB Capital, Gehnrich was a legal department manager for Long Island-based Systemax, a Fortune 1000 provider of industrial products worldwide.
Her multiple responsibilities there included implementing a companywide lease, contract, and legal matter management system, as well as handling investor relations and coordinating board meetings.
She also was instrumental in instituting a legal e-billing system in the US and Europe, resulting in reduced outside counsel fees.
Gehnrich began her career at a mid-sized law firm in Manhattan, where she worked closely with the head of its real estate practice.
Gehnrich resides in Syosset, with her husband Mick, a chef, and one of their three children.
How do you define success?
I define success as doing something you enjoy every day, executing it well, and continuously striving to do better. Continuous improvement takes a willingness to keep educating ourselves in our field and learning from our mistakes. Another important part of success is respecting your team and co-workers. A business in which employees treat each other with respect helps foster a healthy work environment, and results in positive outcomes for the employees and the company as well.
What is the best advice you have received that has made an impact on your business?
“Be adaptable and have an open mind.” I believe most companies appreciate an employee who is willing to consistently learn and adapt to the needs of the company and/or their team.
One example is via technology. Technology is continually growing and improving, and our way of working needs to adapt and incorporate these new trends no matter what field we may be in.
We have truly seen the need to adjust our work experiences and environment during the pandemic. Being flexible, adaptable and willing to learn made one’s transition, during such trying times, much smoother and increased the chances of work and projects being completed efficiently.
What drives you to succeed?
Starting with my childhood, I’ve had a strong personal desire to succeed. I enjoy setting and achieving goals, learning new things and coming up with ideas to improve processes and procedures.
From my years in college and law school, to raising children, starting a business and then changing careers completely, I have always tried to adapt and improve myself. It is important that I serve as a role model for my children, and that they see their mother continuously moving forward and growing and adapting to career and life challenges.
What are the most significant challenges you have as a woman in your industry?
Thankfully, throughout my career, I have experienced very little, if any, challenges specifically for being a woman. I have always strived to be the best in any role, whether as a paralegal, attorney, legal department manager, or operations manager. My gender never influenced this goal or deviated the focus from my determination to be the best professional I could be.
I like to believe I was rewarded for that perseverance at each of my positions, as a person, not as a woman. While I may not have personally faced challenges as a woman in the workplace, I do believe glass ceilings and various other obstacles do exist for women. However, I truly hope and believe that, at many companies, a woman working diligently and giving it her all on a consistent basis will be recognized for her achievements.