20C — June 26 - July 16, 2020 — 30 Under 30 — M id A tlantic Real Estate Journal


30 U nder 30 Mischa Zakhary, AKF Group

“Humility, perseverance, and belief in yourself can conquer anything”


and creativeness, while pro- viding a fulfilling and ever changing environment for personal and professional progress. What were some of your early goals and did any- thing happen to change them? My early goals were those of a hopeful, but ambivalent young engineer. I had pros- pects to thrive in whatever situation I faced even if that expectation wasn’t neces- sarily practical. I quickly learned that thriving did not mean never experiencing conflict, but rather it meant developing and growing when things didn’t go as planned. Changing this mindset was a huge pivot point for me in advancing personally and professionally. My goals now consist of advancing my strengths, challenging my weaknesses, and expanding my skillset. What unique qualities and or personality do you feel makes you most successful in your profes- sion? Although sometimes diffi - cult to move past formalities in the workplace, I’ve always maintained an eagerness to get to know people on a per- sonal level. I believe there is opportunity to make an impact on anyone I cross paths with, so getting to know about someone’s story (or day!) is important to me. Approaching anyone with a genuine sense of empathy can be so meaningful in establishing and building long lasting relationships. I can say this confidently as I am fortunate enough to work with many individuals with the same mindset. Un- derstanding where a person may be coming from helps in conflict resolution, but it also makes working much more enjoyable because it makes you realize you are ultimately around friends and mentors who are all

working towards the same goal as you. What challenges and or obstacles do you feel you needed to overcome to be- come as successful as you are today? My biggest obstacle was definitely a mental one. When I first pursued engineering, I recall feeling extremely intim- idated by how knowledgeable and experiencedmy colleagues seemed. Accepting that prog- ress and growth came through the journey of learning (and sometimes tripping) was the most meaningful challenge I conquered. After affirming that, anything seemed pos- sible to me. A favorite quote of mine that comes to mind is by NelsonMandela, “I never lose. I either win or learn.” What outside activities do you enjoy during you free time? In my free time, I love to travel, read, practice yoga, as well as cook and bake, and then proceed to eat everything I’ve cooked and baked. I spend as much time as possible with my family and friends, whom I often venture off to tropical vacations with. One of my favorite things to do is preserve flower bouquets for home décor and gifts. I also love antiquing and finding treasures to bring back to life. What inspiring word of advice would you give to a young executive graduat- ing from college? Welcome and seize any op - portunity to learn and grow as a professional and individual. Be grateful for obstacles that you face because they are indicative of change. Leave your comfort zone often and you will observe how well you adapt. Once you realize that you can overcome the most seemingly impossible hurdles, you will discover that you can conquer anything you choose. Lastly and most importantly, always celebrate you. MAREJ

hat is your great- est professional accomplishment?

Mischa Zakhary Mechanical Engineer Years with company/ firm: 1.5 Years in field: 6 Years in real estate industry: 6

My greatest professional accomplishment has been to simply become a part of this diverse, progressive industry that provides countless op- portunities for people from multiple backgrounds. As a first generation immigrant from Cairo, I am proud and infinitely grateful to know this industry will hold space for every passion I discover throughout my career. It is a privilege to have a role in the world of creating infra- structure where the potential and abundance is continu- ously growing and developing alongside our generation. What is your most nota- ble project, deal or trans- action? My most notable system of projects to date has been the multiple opportunities in which AKF has been able to serve Riverside Health Sys- tem. Across the state of Vir- ginia, building relationships throughout their facilities and having the opportunity to be on their team to grow their healthcare system has been one of the most ful- filling roles of my career. As a whole, healthcare has transformed and elevated my career through encouraging innovative ideas to meet ever evolving modern day needs. How do you contribute to your company and / or the industry? Utilizing and expanding upon building information modeling through applica- tions such as Revit has been a passion of mine since first learning computer-aided de- sign in engineering school. Company and industry-wise, I’m a part of groups and teams dedicated to further developing workflows for users to make the most of what this technology has to offer in terms of design and coordination. I believe the

industry has only briefly tapped into what BIM can do to bridge gaps between all parties throughout a project – from the design team to the developer to the contractor to the user. From providing clash-free models to reduce coordination efforts out in the field, to being able to filter and itemize specific elements such as pipe acces- sories for material orders, the possibilities are endless. It’s an exciting time to be in the business of helping create real estate and witnessing how that process is evolving. Who or what has been the strongest influence in your career? My mom has been and will always be the strongest influ - ence in my career and life. Witnessing her work ethic and determination to provide for her family has shaped me into the woman I am today. She has taught me that hu- mility, perseverance, and belief in yourself can conquer anything. The strength and inspiration she surrounds everyone in her life with is contagious. Whenever I have days of misalignment or dis- sonance with my vision, I remind myself that I am my mother’s daughter. As much as she is my biggest fan, I’m a million times hers because she is constantly motivating me to put my all into what I’m passionate about. What impact has social media / networking had on your career? Social media has had a great impact on my career, as it has allowed me to con- nect with and learn from

individuals who I may not have crossed paths with in my everyday life. Similar to most aspects in life, I believe it is what you choose to make of it. It can either motivate, inspire, and advance you to further pursue your goals, or it can deter and distract you from your goals. I choose the former although it means limiting and filtering the amount of exposure, as well as the quality of social media, I allow into my life. In this age of social media, there are endless streams of inspira- tion at our fingertips, and the opportunities are simply waiting to connect with us. Tell us how and when you began your career in the profession you are in, about your current posi- tion and why you choose the field/profession you are in today? The path that I took to get to where I am now in my profession was not a linear or textbook one, but I wouldn’t change any part of my jour- ney. As a young girl, I was never interested in solely one thing – I always had a curiosity and urge to learn as much as I could, which made deciding a field to pur - sue quite difficult. I started out in humanities and the arts, and even moved across the Atlantic where I lived and studied international relations for some time. I loved what I was learning, but math and science were always quietly, but steadily calling my name. I was ulti- mately led into the engineer- ing field because it allowed me to persist in my curiosity

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