Star Hughes is director of business development at Hughes Marino, the largest tenant representation company in San Diego. Recently published in Forbes Woman, the “How I Became A 21-Year-Old Business Executive” author shares with us her greatest achievements, challenges, and future plans.
Tell us a little about yourself, background and what you do currently.
I had a relatively unique path to my role at Hughes Marino, and it all dates back to my high school years overloading on academics, living in the math classroom, and taking as many Advanced Placement classes as possible. This provided me with the opportunity to graduate from the University of San Diego (in Southern California) in two years at the age of nineteen. In addition to graduating with perfect marks, I also graduated with some part-time work experience under my belt and an amazing group of friends that I made through serving as president of a national honor society.
While I definitely didn’t have much of a life, I did love my college years (all two of them!) and came away with some amazing memories.
After graduating from the university at nineteen, I decided to go directly into the Masters in Business Administration from the University of San Diego. While the program is traditionally a two-year program, I decided to overload on courses once again, taking nine classes at one time, to graduate with my MBA two weeks after my twenty-first birthday.
I was the youngest graduate of the MBA program ever – and the only one to date to complete the full-time MBA in only one year.
After interning at an investment bank during my MBA, I was fortunate enough to graduate with a number of job offers – but I ultimately chose the less-traveled road of joining the family business. It was the easiest – and the best – decision I could have ever made.
Today, I am a director at Hughes Marino – the largest tenant representation commercial real estate company in San Diego. I specialize in tenant representation in the downtown area of San Diego – and while it can’t compete with the beautiful, enormous downtown district in a city like London – it is an incredibly exciting market to understand from a real estate end.
How did you end up in working at Hughes Marino?
Because Hughes Marino is a family business – albeit a larger one – I grew up in the commercial real estate world from day one. I had worked part-time for the company through high school and college, but didn’t consider it my “career” until after finishing my MBA. When it came time to choose the job that I would love and truly enjoy, a group of people that were not just coworkers but friends, and a work environment with the utmost standards for integrity and ethics, Hughes Marino was the obvious choice. After discussing it with my future bosses – my parents – I interviewed with every single team member at the firm to discuss my role at the company and earn their support. About two weeks after graduating from the MBA, I was fully engrained in the company.
How do you feel about working in a family business?
At first I was very hesitant to join the family business, primarily because I didn’t want to feel like I was “handed” a job – and I definitely didn’t want my coworkers to think that of me either. Once I started working, any feeling of being handed a job immediately faded. I knew that I was putting in the hours and working my very hardest, and I began to feel more confident in my role at Hughes Marino.
Now, working in the family business is the best thing I could have ever imagined – I am working for the ones I love most, and I can trust that they have my best interests at heart.
What is your advice to women who want to succeed in professional life?
Be a long-term thinker. I think that the reason I was able to accelerate through school so quickly and find my dream job at age twenty-one was because I have always been such a long-term planner. I’ve always written goals – monthly goals, annual goals, five-year goals, and ten-year goals – and while they haven’t always been accurate, they have provided me with a long-term perspective on life.
I make decisions not only thinking about the impact it would have on tomorrow, but the impact it would have on my life five years from now.
What has been the biggest challenge in your life?
I am incredibly blessed to have a healthy family and a world of opportunity. Life is full of ups and downs, and while I have my fair share of challenges, I am incredibly grateful for the happy, amazing life I’ve been given. That being said, one of my biggest challenges has been learning to adapt to change and be flexible when things don’t go according to plan. Because I am such a long-term thinker, I don’t do well with surprises or uncertainty – I like knowing exactly what is going to happen, exactly where I’m going to be in five years, etc. That’s just not possible – and it’s taken years to realize that.
What’s been your greatest achievement personally?
I am very proud of being a good girl – and while it may not be an “achievement” per se, I love the fact that I have never had a sip of alcohol, prefer to dress classy and not trashy, and would rather sit at home with my dog and a good movie on a Friday night than go out to the clubs.
By the age of 21, you have already got 2 degrees and become a director of business at Hughes Marino. What do you put your success down to?
My parents. They are the two most inspirational people I have ever met – and they have always treated my brothers and I as equals. We were never treated as kids – my parents always asked for our opinions and respected our judgment. They are my best friends.
If you weren’t doing what you do now, what would you be doing?
I would start a cooking, arts and crafts, design, and lifestyle company similar to Martha Stewart Living. While I love commercial real estate, my favorite things to do in my free time are cook, decorate, decoupage, organize, paint, and be creative. My mom and my grandma raised me to idolize Martha Stewart – I knew how to use a hot glue gun before I could spell my own name! – and that will always be a passion of mine.
Who has been the biggest inspiration in your life?
I have several. My parents, of course, are the biggest inspirations to me! Other than my parents, my biggest role model is Ivanka Trump – she is such a beautiful, brilliant, poised, and classy woman, and she’s in commercial real estate too! I’ve read her books, I own her shoes, and I think she does an amazing job of balancing it all.
What does the future hold for you?
I see myself working at Hughes Marino for many, many years to come – I truly don’t see myself working anywhere else. At some point I do hope to write a cooking, crafts and event planning book and try to squeeze in a little more time for my creative side!
And ultimately, I’d love to have a family and try to balance it all – just like Ivanka!