Managing director at The Davis Cos. grew up with real estate in her blood

By Catherine Carlock  – Real Estate Editor, Boston Business Journal

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Cappy Daume

Title: Managing director of Asset Management, The Davis Cos.

Education: Bachelor of science, Johns Hopkins University, 1987

Age: 53

Residence: Hamilton

Cappy Daume’s first introduction to Boston real estate was when she joined a firm that her boss had started in the midst of the industry downturn in 1989.

Twenty years later, Daume changed jobs in a recession — again — when she joined the newly formed The Davis Cos. as director of asset management.

“I got here and said, ‘This is a 35-year-old startup,’” Daume said. Davis Cos. CEO Jon Davis, she said, “brought a tremendous wealth of experience and expertise and resources, but this was all fresh, new territory. I loved that.”

Daume played a key role on the Davis Cos. leadership team as the company has grown into a significant private player in Boston real estate. Davis Cos. has completed notable acquisition, development and repositioning work all over the city, as well as suburbs including Bedford, Burlington and Waltham and outside markets like Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

The breadth and volume of the work spoke to Daume, who has a personal goal to always be learning. That goal, she says, is especially important in the later stages of career development — not to do the same thing year after year.

“Whatever it is in your field that you think is the next step — and it might be a little bit scary, and you might not know how the story is going to end — you might look back and think the grass is a little bit-greener. For me, it was all about the growth experience, and I’ve never regretted it,” she said. “I loved leasing. I loved investment sales. I love what I’m doing now even more.”

One of Davis Cos.’ most recent deals was buying back into Boston’s Seaport District, after several years away, with a $60 million ground-lease deal at 88 Black Falcon Ave.

Many firms would shy away from a complicated deal like 88 Black Falcon, which involved a long-term ground-lease with government agency the Massachusetts Port Authority. But those are the deals to which Daume and Davis Cos. gravitate.

“We’re fortunate, because we have access to capital — because they’re not cheap — we have the luxury of taking that view,” Daume said.

Daume grew up on a farm in Virginia, watching her father and grandfather develop and plan thousands of acres of land. Real estate was in her blood. After college, she spent two years in industry research in Washington, D.C., before moving north with her now-husband, Sam. The pair raised two children, Carter and Ben. Along the way, Daume has built up a knowledge base in various parts of the business — leasing, investment sales, asset management — but concedes that she’s still building up the base, still learning, every day.

Despite an impressive run as managing director of asset management — or perhaps because of it — Daume is kept awake by an aspiration toward perfection, both professionally and personally. That drive is so often found in women leaders, especially those who aim high in Boston’s fraternity-esque real estate industry.

“We’re going to have some investments that are going to knock it out of the park, and then we’re going to have some singles and doubles,” Daume said. She knows, logically, that not every project can be a home run, especially when dealing with the sheer volume of work that Davis Cos. handles. Still, she aims to knock every one out of the park.

“Competency is your edge,” she said. “You’re not going to be one of the blue suits. What are you going to deliver? Competency. … When you’re at the table, you want to come off with adding value. You may not have that fraternal story, so you’ve got to contribute something else.”

In her leather address book, Daume carries three sheets of paper right at the front. One is a speech from “eons ago” when she and Erin O’Boyle, now the managing partner at Westport Point Capital Partners, won the NEWiRE networking award. The other two are a family tree, and a poem called, “What Shall We Give Our Children.”

“I’ve got to keep grounded the most important things in my life,” she said.

On a recent Friday, she read aloud pieces of advice from the networking award speech.

“Aim high and take risks,” she said. “Even if you are not brave, pretend to be, ‘cause no one can tell the difference.”