Pam Liebman’s lifeguarding days

The Corcoran Group CEO recalls her first boss saying: "'Pam, why don’t you do another shift?’ Her response? ‘Why don’t you go to hell?”

TRD New York /
Aug.August 28, 2019 02:00 PM

It’s fun to think that the CEOs, developers and top industry brokers — who these days have hundreds of employees under their purview and salaries that put them in the uppermost stratosphere of earners — once made minimum wage.

TRD talked to six industry leaders to find out how they got their start and what they learned from their first foray into the workforce. Below, Pam Liebman describes getting — and quitting — her first job.

Read the full story — Minimum wage days — here.

Pam Liebman
President and CEO of the Corcoran Group

Corcoran’s CEO, Pam Liebman, learned at an early age to stand up for herself in the workplace.

The Staten Island native got her first job while she was a student at Curtis High School, working at her local swim club over the summer.

Liebman, who recalled being a good student and president of the student body at the time, said she mainly took the job because she was bored and wanted to work. She doesn’t remember what she earned but said it was “considered good pay” at the time.

The 57-year old — whose firm closed $4.53 billion in Manhattan sales in 2018 and had 1,320 agents in the borough as of January — recalled one day when her boss tried to get her to stay on lifeguarding duty for one more shift after she had just finished working a double.

“They were totally favoring the guys because this other guy was supposed to do the next shift on the chair, and I think [my boss] just wanted to hang with him or something,” she said. “He said, ‘Pam, why don’t you do another shift?’ I said, ‘Why don’t you go to hell?’”

So she quit on the spot and got a job at a nearby club for the rest of the summer.

Liebman said she worked about four lifeguarding gigs before taking a job as a camp counselor when she was at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

But she turned out to be less effective at managing seventh-grade campers than managing residential agents, noting that she almost got fired for being too hands-off.

“I think I was ignoring the kids too much and not supervising them,” she said, “because at some point, I was just like, ‘I don’t really care. Do whatever you want to do. Just say I didn’t know about it.’”

But right after graduating college, in 1984, she joined Corcoran, and she hasn’t looked back.

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