Why Credentials Matter: A Conversation with Megan Orser, CALP and NAA Excel Award Winner


We caught up with Megan Orser, the 2020 NAA Excellence Award recipient for CALP of the Year, to get her perspective on the property management industry and why she believes credentials are important.

Megan not only has a CALP accreditation, but she has a degree in Marketing and Communications from the University of Michigan. She is also a Housing Credit Certified Professional (HCCP) and is currently pursuing her Michigan Brokers license.

Megan oversees operations for two companies, Smart Apartment Solutions, a solutions-based company serving property owners and onsite teams, and Smart Moves LLC, a fee-managed residential and commercial property management company. While not in the office or onsite working in the trenches, you will find Megan serving on 11 local, state, and national committees and councils including IREM, NAA, and NAAEI, along with three board positions with her local and state affiliates, DMAA, WAAA, PMAM. Of course, she’ll tell you none of this possible without the support of the team at Smart HQ, Smarties Makita, Dawn, Cal, and Kelly.


Megan, let’s start with what led you to a career in property management.

I was born into the industry. I’m what you might call a “property management stroller baby.” My family owned a small management company. Dad was the maintenance guy and I “strolled” along with mom when she took potential residents on property tours. My post-college plan did not include joining the family business, rather, advertising was my chosen career path. But, throughout college, I had been staffing onsite and was eventually offered a marketing leasing position for a property with 1,145 units, a nine-hole golf course, and two boat marinas. I was in charge of all the marketing campaigns and got to experience, first hand, the ins and outs of managing a property. As I grew in this role, I moved into other positions where I mastered marketing and troubleshooting skills. I had the privilege to travel to other markets on behalf of several management companies throughout the United States to help properties with their leasing challenges. Then, one day, I realized “I am hooked, really hooked.” I thought,  “you know, this is the industry for me.”

Why was it so important to get a credential?

Personally, it was important to make it official. It let others know I wasn’t just passing through, and that is priceless. Everyone in my class was a 10-plus year veteran and they were searching for the same thing — to be recognized as the best of the best.


How has having a credential helped you in your career?

The number one thing is the network of like-minded people. Connecting with other credential holders has given me more confidence. I feel like I’m part of an inclusive inner circle where we learn from each other, share personal experiences, and champion one another.


What would you say to someone who is thinking about earning a credential?

Do it! There are so many avenues and career opportunities to choose from. Property Management is one of the largest industries in the country, and we contribute significantly to local, state, and national economies. Join us; we’d love to have you.

Any other thoughts on what it takes to be successful in this industry?

You can earn a highly regarded NAAEI property management credential in six short weeks or online at your own pace. It’s an affordable way to level up, expand your career, and be your best. We joke with our staff all the time. Stick with it for a week and you’ll know if you love it or hate it. If you like helping people, problem-solving, and variety in your workday, consider a career in property management.

For more information on how you can launch a career in property management, visit gowithvisto.org.

Visto Content Team


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