After stepping into his new role as Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President at Extra Space Storage, Matt Herrington has been reflecting on his career and everything that led him to where he is now. Specifically, he thinks about the advice he would share with his younger self, if he could go back in time.
“Surround yourself with people who think differently than you,” he said. “If you’re the smartest person in the room, then you’re in the wrong room.”
It’s a lesson he’s learned from several mentors throughout his life, all of whom have taught him the values of collaborating with others, staying humble, and being open to change. And it’s this lesson that drives him in his work with Extra Space Storage and helps him continue to achieve success with the challenges he takes on.
Building Success on Early Career Lessons
Herrington was born and raised in Nebraska, where his family moved around rather frequently—so much, in fact, that he attended three different high schools over the course of four years, which he says gave him an appreciation for change and an early lesson in the importance of being adaptable.
He stayed in Nebraska to earn his undergraduate degree, attending the University of Nebraska at Kearney, where he received his Bachelor’s of Science in Business Administration with an emphasis on Finance, later followed by a Master’s of Science in Management from Baker University in Kansas.
During his undergraduate studies, Herrington had the privilege of coaching football under Jason Hale, who was head coach at Holdrege High School in Holdrege, NE for more than 20 years. He says Hale shared advice back then that he still thinks about to this day, and he believes it’s been applicable throughout his career.
“On multiple occasions, I remember him telling the team, ‘It’s amazing what can be accomplished when you don’t care who gets the credit. You can succeed in spurts individually, but it has a shelf-life. Sustained success is dressed in teamwork and humility,'” Herrington explained.
Teamwork and humility are both tenets of Herrington’s approach to work, which is why he feels so at home with Extra Space Storage. He considers the company’s core values of Integrity, Excellence, Innovation, Teamwork, and Passion to be foundational, not only for himself, but also for collaboration with the people around him. “There is no bigger turn-off to me than someone with an imperious attitude,” he added.
Herrington started with Extra Space Storage in June 2009 and has been working in the self storage industry since 2007. Throughout his time with the company, he’s held various titles, including Senior District Manager, Division Vice President, and Senior Vice President of Operations, the latter placing him in charge of company operations across approximately 900 locations in the western United States.
From his early days in the field to his new role as Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President, Herrington credits his great mentors at Extra Space Storage for helping him accomplish all that he has. “To be able to join the ranks of Mark Stanke, Gary White, and Samrat Sondhi—those who led me and paved the way for my career—was exhilarating.”
Taking on a New Role at Extra Space Storage
Earlier this spring, Extra Space Storage announced that Herrington would be stepping into the role of Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President, succeeding Samrat Sondhi, who would become the company’s new Chief Marketing Officer.
CEO Joe Margolis said Herrington was selected for his significant contributions to the company’s operational growth and success. “Matt is a perfect example of the deep leadership bench we have developed at Extra Space, and the ability it provides us to promote proven leaders from within,” Margolis commented.
When Herrington was approached about the position, he says he felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude for his relationship with Sondhi. “Samrat has meant so much to my career. He has taught me to think differently. He’s an expert in asking probing questions to get to the root cause. I owe my professional success largely to him.”
Herrington was also thankful for the relationship he’d developed over the last five years with Alex Engel, his former partner who oversees Extra Space Storage locations in the eastern United States as Senior Vice President of Operations. “Alex is an extremely capable and wise leader. I’m thrilled he’s on our team.”
In this new role, Herrington is responsible for overseeing all operations and facilities for the self storage company, no longer focusing solely on operations in the West. He looks forward to the challenge and knows that the success of his operations leadership will ultimately derive from the company’s exceptional partnerships, proven track record, superior talent, and willingness to innovate and change.
“At the end of the day, our success will be measured by three things: performance versus our peers in the industry, our ability to acquire and develop talent, and the evangelization and reaffirmation of our company values,” Herrington stated.
Even though he’s reached a new level of his career, Herrington continues to rely on the mentorship of those around him. “Ask a lot of questions, and don’t move too fast” is the advice he received from Sondhi and other company leaders at Extra Space Storage when he assumed the role of COO and EVP. Although, he admits the “don’t move too fast” advice was difficult to follow considering he stepped into the role in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, which required faster decisions and more adaptability than usual.
As Herrington looks forward to his future, he has a few long-term goals he wants to accomplish with Extra Space Storage, including being the top management option for partners, setting the pace for innovation in the industry, fostering the best collective management team, leading the sector in revenue and net operating income, and continuing to make Extra Space Storage a great place to work for employees.
With everything he’s learned over the course of his career, there’s no doubt Herrington will achieve these goals the way he always has—with teamwork, humility, and an appreciation for change.