CGC Website Header Mathew1 1024x384 - Matthew Makela: Reflecting on Five Years of Excellence at Cardinal Group

At Cardinal, our culture embodies many different elements: it’s about improving as a team while having fun growing together both personally and professionally. Our team members are the heart and soul of our culture! We are so grateful for the efforts our team members put in daily to go the extra mile to help change the industry and challenge the status quo.

Today we’re celebrating Matthew Makela and his dedicated years of service to the growth of our team over the last five years.

Learn more about Matthew’s journey below!

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What is your role?

Operations Analyst on the HSRE & Friends team!


Describe your Cardinal Journey (roles you previously worked in before your current position)

I joined Cardinal Group on January 8th, 2019, as a Community Manager for VIVO Toledo. The CM role had been vacant for several months prior to, and the property was distressed. I was fortunate to have a few really strong TMs join the community around the same time. I was able to build a strong relationship with the Asset Manager, which helped secure a major renovation to the community. My team and I leveraged the renovation to nearly doubling the asset’s value. After leading 3 successful lease-ups at VIVO Toledo, I was fortunate to have an opportunity to become the Area Manager of the Lux and Lofts in Ithaca. I inherited a $182k revenue deficit that I was able to help the asset overcome. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to take an evolving role as an Operations Analyst. This has been my role for the past year and a half. During this time, I’ve created resources that give time back to my teams, created a weekly scoring system that helps optimize my teams’ performance, and most importantly I’ve been able to be a resource daily for all the teams in our HSRE cells!


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How did you decide to join the Cardinal team?

Prior to Cardinal Group I worked for a regional brokerage company that afforded invaluable exposure but required about 80 hours of work a week. There was no work-life balance and with a little one on the way, I knew I needed to find a company where I could still grow professionally while being present for my family.


What’s the most significant lesson you’ve learned in your time at Cardinal?

Be direct, patient, and open minded! I knew I wanted to become an APM when I joined Cardinal Group, and I was really bummed after not being selected after interviewing for a few openings. I was direct about my desire to my Portfolio Manager, who in turn was very honest with me. We are a part of an organization that has an overwhelming amount of talent. My PM, Courtney Richardson gave me unique and challenging opportunities that maintained my professional growth, garnered further exposure, and really strengthened my skillset across the board. It turned out that the APM role I dearly wanted wasn’t the right next step for my career, it turned out it was a role I would’ve never envisioned serving in!


What do you find most exciting about your job? Most challenging?

The most exciting part is watching my TMs experience that “lightbulb” moment and knowing I played a role in it. That feeling of showing a CM the “why,” and seeing that spark in their eyes when you can see it click for them, it’s such a rewarding feeling! The most challenging is surely handling the HQ Resident Issues when the resident or guarantor is irrational.


If you could choose one word to describe your time at Cardinal, what would it be and why?

Family – This organization feels like a family, and my TMs genuinely feel like relatives to me.


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Who has been influential in your life (professionally or personally), and how have they helped guide you?

Courtney Richardson has been the biggest influence in my career since she became my Portfolio Manager. There are a handful of projects that I thought were really great and set to move forward with – and they may have been, however, Courtney’s eye on the bigger picture is always in-play. She knew I could take those to the next level, and she pushed me to constantly re-evaluate my work. This now has become a huge part of any project I am working on, when I think “that’s great,” I try to evaluate it again the way Courtney does. In addition, she has been one of the most dependable people in my life. When personal turbulence has arisen, she’s been compassionate and has offered the support I’ve needed to continue growing both professionally and as a person.


What’s something people may not know about you?  

As a Realtor in Ohio, I’ve sold two apartment complexes, a portfolio of 54 rental houses, and three individual home sales! This has been huge for my growth as the opportunity to sell really opened my eyes to how important every decision I made a CM was, and now how imperative my support is to ensure my teams have what they need to find similar successes to what I had with my own communities.


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What advice would you give to someone starting out in the industry?

Our industry isn’t rocket-science! Have a great attitude, be ambitious to learn as much as you can, and just put your head down and work! This industry rewards those who strive for greatness and can marry that ambition with an optimistic outlook!


What is your proudest moment working at Cardinal Group?

My second Turn! My first Turn wasn’t great. I spent a lot of time envisioning what I could change. I obsessed over my strategy. When I was able to take what I envisioned in my mind for my second turn and make it a reality, I truly felt like I could do absolutely anything I set my mind to. That validation I felt has been driving me and continues to be proven true ever since!


What is your biggest motivator?

Making the people around me happy is the biggest non-monetary motivator!


What has been the most interesting change you’ve seen in the industry, and why?

The attitude that companies like ours have towards our residents and our team-members. I feel like before Cardinal Group the high turnover in our industry was more-or-less accepted. Our customers were referred to as “Tenants,” and overall people weren’t treating each other how they want to be treated in return. Seeing the increased concentration on Customer Service, as well as on our own team’s morale, has really made this industry extraordinarily rewarding to work in.


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What is your favorite college town in America, and why?

Bowling Green, OH! Naturally my fond personal memories of my time at BG, enjoying MAC Football, and embracing everything that this college town had to offer, it’s irreplaceable.

See our open opportunities sider GSU during their college search!

Are you ready to start your Cardinal Journey?