Legal EaseBy: Nadine Kam
How Colliers Monroe Friedlander Cultivates Talent
LINING UP SNACKS ON A SATURDAY MORNING for members of her daughter’s soccer team, 37-year-old Sarah Morihara looks every inch the model mom.
During business hours, she’s better known as the president and managing director of Colliers Monroe Friedlander, one of the largest commercial property management and brokerage groups in the State of Hawai’i. Having recently been named to the Hawaii Business Round-table-an elite group of the state’s most prominent all-stars in business-it’s safe to say Morihara’s star is rising.
Yet, according to Colliers co-founder and principal broker Andy Friedlander, it’s how she rose through the ranks that makes for a great story.
“It’s not unusual for my kids to be in my office. Sometimes they’ll sit with the receptionist and help open mail and do little tasks,” she adds, noting the frequency with which she does after-school pickups, or attends her kids’ soccer or basketball games, piano recitals, karate or chess tournaments. It’s crucial, she says, for her children to remain active in pursuit of figuring out who they are.
“I think that’s what everyone has to do to become successful; find out what gets them out of bed every day. Once they know that, everything else falls into line,” Morihara says.
Similarly, while she was solely practicing law, she felt the nagging question, “Is this all to life?”
Sitting on the board of Hawaii’s Junior Miss-a title she once held herself -is another example of her dedication to creating opportunity for others. The program helps to develop Hawai’i's young ladies into confident, well-rounded and successful women-something Morihara is well-qualified to share.
After joining the company in 2003 as in-house corporate counsel, Morihara quickly became an officer in the company when Friedlander noticed his hardened, experienced senior agents turning to her for solutions.
“I’m not sure how to express how unheard of this is,” admits Friedlander. “These are tough, crusty guys. And yet, Sarah would not only help them through negotiations and other problem solving, but she would do so by drawing on their individual skills. It’s very different from simply telling others what to do.”
And while her business acumen paired with a legal degree aided in this capacity, it was the opportunity to make a difference in the community-and be a good role model-that spurred her push away from solely practicing law.
“It felt good for me here, to become part of the managerial decision-making. John Monroe and Andy Friedlander have been incredible mentors,” she says.
Morihara now manages more than 100 employees, is involved with both large and small transactions, and works closely with property managers, leasing agents and generating new business.
However, she has made one thing clear from the start: Her commitment to family.