CORT District General Manager (DGM) Debbie Borrello was born and raised in New Orleans. Like most natives of the “Big Easy,” if you are fortunate to be born there, you never leave. After attending one semester of college in 1983, Debbie decided to join the Navy on a GI plan to attend college at a later time in her life.
In 1984, Debbie started her active duty service by attending boot camp in Orlando, Florida, where she trained to become a personnelman (PM), which is similar to a human resources role in the civilian business world. Once she completed her personnelman training, Debbie was assigned to a Navy recruiting office. Debbie’s service did not follow the typical path, which is to go on a ship after school. Instead, Debbie spent her entire active duty service in a recruiting station in the San Francisco Bay area where she was advanced to Petty Officer 2nd Class (E-5).
As the youngest person assigned to a station in downtown Oakland, California, Debbie experienced her first earthquake during her time there. “It was a frightening experience. I sat on the 12th floor in the recruiting district building, watching the walls crack around me.”
In the early 80’s, the U.S. military was revamped, which was not very popular among some U.S. citizens. Because Debbie wasn’t on a base and in an unprotected facility, it was a very unstable time during her military service. Not far from Debbie’s office in Berkley and Santa Cruz, California, recruiting stations were blown up. Luckily, no recruiters were injured during the incidents. For a period of time, Debbie and her team had to have a marine escort back and forth from their cars to their station. In an effort to remain safe, Debbie and her fellow recruiters didn’t wear their uniforms outside of the building during this unstable time.
Although there were some stressful times working in the recruiting station, Debbie also experienced some memorable ones. In 1985, Debbie was named “Sailor of the Quarter,” along with 11 other honorees, and she was the only female award recipient. This is an honor bestowed upon a sailor that is excelling and going above and beyond their role in the Navy. One of the perks of the award was attending the fight between Marvis Frazier and James “Bone Crusher” Smith on February 23, 1986 in Richmond, California. Debbie and her fellow honorees got to meet Marvis’ dad, former heavyweight champion and Hall of Famer Joe Frazier. She still has the autographed photo from that special day.
After leaving the Navy in 1988, Debbie fulfilled her dream and enrolled in Loyola University in New Orleans. She graduated with a Bachelor of Business Administration in Finance in 1992 with only $8,000 (on a $100,000 education) in debt thanks to the GI bill.
Debbie’s work as a recruiter was her very first sales job, which prepared her for her 17-year career at CORT. In 1996, Debbie started working in the CORT service center in New Orleans. Executive Vice President of Residential Sales Richard Ritter then moved her to manage the CORT Clearance Center, and in 2008, she was promoted to District Sales Manager then Territory Sales Manager. In 2012 she was promoted to her current position of DGM where she manages the district.
In 2001, Debbie was packing up to move to a new home when she came across a card from a Lieutenant she had admired during her time in the Navy. The Lieutenant wrote to Debbie about the importance of respect, not just respecting the chain of command, but a mutual respect among all levels. “She always took the time to ask me how things were going and showed that she really cared about me. I didn’t realize how much she had impacted me and the way I approached my career all of these years later until I came across that letter,” said Debbie.
The military, which is very goal oriented, taught Debbie to be very driven and focused. “There is a strong work ethic and different set of expectations for performance that I have carried over to my post-military career,” said Debbie. Because of this instilled discipline, Debbie often has to remind herself to slow down and sit down. “Taking the time to ask your coworkers how they are doing and sitting down to talk to them regularly demonstrates respect and shows you really care about them and their wellbeing.”