Interview with Darrin Williams, Vice President of Real Estate Services for Unico
Tell us about your career journey and how you landed at Unico?
I have been in the Commercial Real Estate industry for 27 years. I started out working in the accounting department at Cushman & Wakefield. Over the years I transitioned out of accounting and migrated toward managing buildings, and construction, eventually joining Unico as a General Manager. I have worked for Unico for the past 15 years and my current position at Unico is Vice President, Real Estate Services. This position includes oversight of our Engineering Department which includes approximately 75 engineers in Seattle and Denver. I have worked for several companies ranging from larger companies to smaller firms. The opportunities I’ve received while working for Unico have led to my long-term commitment and tenure at the company for almost two decades.
What advice would you give students considering a career in property management or commercial building engineering (CBE)?
Engineering is an excellent career. The compensation is great, it’s a challenging and rewarding industry, it is fun and interesting, and you can go as far as your drive and talent will take you. Working in and around buildings will expose you to hundreds of different industries. In property management, we are generalists. Managers and Engineers need to possess a tremendous amount of knowledge to be successful. You will never be bored!
How did you hear about the CBE program at Renton Technical College?
I have been aware of it for many years, and first heard of the incredible program while attending a BOMA meeting many years ago. Many of our engineers have attended the school and they have many wonderful things to say about their experience. In fact, Unico’s Director of Engineering, Clarence Clipper, is a RTC graduate.
Why did Unico start a CBE scholarship at RTC and what do you hope to achieve?
We are always looking to attract and retain good talent. With Unico’s continued growth and diversified portfolio we have a greater need for highly-trained engineers. It’s an important core value of ours to support the industry and community that help to fuel our company’s growth. We strive to help and inspire students interested in engineering to join the industry, enroll in RTC’s CBE program, and hopefully join Unico as an employee down the road. Creating a scholarship at RTC is one way we can financially support our local engineering industry while offering opportunities to students with talent and a valuable skillset.
We also hope this scholarship raises awareness among current or future CBE students about the wonderful career opportunities available right here in their backyard, with some excellent, local companies.
What would you like people to know about the industry and Unico?
It is all about growth. When I started, we had just 70 employees; we now employ more than 225 people in Seattle, Portland, Denver and Boulder, and Spokane. Yet despite our geographical reach, Unico is a company where the majority of the people know each other. My desk sits among all levels of employees ranging from engineering to accountants, to the executive team.
Unico is a perfect fit for me because it fosters an excellent sense of community among our employees. As employees, we are given leadership opportunities to make an impact on the company and its success.