You have to move pretty fast to keep up with Marta Sequeira. Like, Olympic-sprinter fast.
The 33-year-old Portugal native started working with United Services (a division of AffinEco) about a year ago, and she has already been promoted to the position of Territory Manager — in charge of five buildings and a staff of about 80 people in the Downtown Boston and the super-hot Seaport District.
“There are several steps along the way that you usually work through to get to be a Territory Manager,” said Sequeira’s supervisor, United Services Vice President and General Manager Nolan Macario. “She went from Cleaning Supervisor directly to Territory Manager, skipping two steps you would normally go through.
“Marta is hungry. She’s a go-getter. She’s smart. She communicates very well, which is very important in our industry, perhaps the most important characteristic. She’s a real people person.”
It’s worth noting Sequeira’s communication skills, because she came to Boston from Lisbon without being able to speak English, but she proved to be a fast learner.
“It’s been three years since I started as a cleaner, working part-time and barely speaking any English,” she said. “My biggest challenge was to learn English. I knew it was the key to get more and better opportunities.” Luckily, she had help. Her brother Joao had moved to Boston and was already settled. The two would talk in English so Sequeira could practice.
She worked for a different cleaning services company before catching on with United. It didn’t take long for her to make an impact as a manager.
“101 Seaport Boulevard was one of the first buildings she took over,” said Macario. “There had been a lot of changes to the staffing, and there were a few complaints. But she straightened everything out, re-engineered the cleaning operation there. Now the client is super happy.”
From there, she was off and running.
With a background in customer service from work she did in Portugal, Sequeira seems like a natural-born leader. She consistently recognizes and passes credit on to her work crews, who she clearly cares for.
“As people, they are a big part of the company,” she said. “I say to them ‘I am the face of the company, but you are the ones who make me look good.’ It’s hard nowadays to find really good workers. So when you do find good ones, you make sure that they feel appreciated. It’s like a snowball — if they feel good, feel appreciated, then they work harder at their jobs, which is good for me and also good for the company. Everything is better.”
It’s funny that she mentioned snow, because she came from Lisbon, where it barely gets cold during winter and never snows. As she settled into her New England home, Boston got buried under a record-breaking winter blanket of 9 feet of snow, including 94 inches in just one month (smashing the old state record of 59 inches).
“I came during the worst winter ever,” Sequeira chuckled. “That was difficult. I wanted to go back to Portugal. But I stayed, and I’m very happy I stayed.”
Not only does her job keep her hustling, she also has a husband and two children, with another child on the way. Sequeira says balancing work and family life can be tough, but she is quick to praise the support she gets from her husband and her bosses. Her bosses give the praise her right back.
“Not a week goes by without a client or property manager talking about something they were happy with, or a positive thing she did,” Macario said.