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Liz Rappaport named to BusinessWest’s 40 under 40

A chance encounter with an employee from W.F. Young led to Liz Rappaport working in that company’s Equine Division for a couple of years.

“There are few times when you have the opportunity to combine your vocation and your avocation,” said Rappaport, who has been riding horses since she was 10 and is an accomplished equestrian, including an Arabian Canadian championship. “I took it as a chance to work for a family business and get a lot of amazing opportunities at a young age; I was only 22.”

But another family business called —specifically, the commercial real-estate firm her grandfather started 70 years ago. So Rappaport went back to school to earn her MBA, then knocked on the door at Century Investment Co. “I said, ‘Dad, will you hire me? Because, if you don’t hire me, I’ll just apply to your competitors.’ That’s what got me hired.”

Over the past three years, Rappaport has managed the sale of more than $1 million in real estate and negotiated leases with a host of tenants at Century’s many properties.

“Technically, Dad calls me the assistant gofer,” she said. “One day, I’ll be doing a mortgage refinancing and signing tenants to 10-year leases, while the next day, I may have to go pick up trash somewhere or help out parking staff. I’m a jack of all trades, master of some, hopefully.”

One thing she has mastered is the technology of her industry, introducing new digital and print marketing materials and updating the bookkeeping system. “We’re bringing the company into the 21st century, updating accounting processes and establishing the first digital marketing campaign, getting us on the Internet.”

Rappaport also pours herself into civic volunteerism, most notably serving on the board of the Western Mass. Council of the Jimmy Fund, taking a leadership role in several fund-raising activities each year. She takes pride in helping to fight against childhood cancer, but is also proud of her place in her family’s business.

“I love working with my father, and I love real estate. I get to interact with tenants, but also get the finance side, the accounting aspects, the management side — a little bit of everything,” she said. “You’ve got to like what you do.”