Jamie Covello is recognized as a leader in the real estate industry. She has 30+ years of experience, expertise, and insights, most recently as Executive Director, Cushman & Wakefield. She joined Avison Young as Executive Director in 2017.
I am meeting with her to find out what motivated her to move to Avison Young and to see where her focus is right now.
We sit in a light-filled boardroom with panoramic views of Manhattan as Jamie explains her motivation: “I wanted a more entrepreneurial environment. The beauty of Avison Young is that it’s a principal-owned company. They don’t have fiefdoms and silos. If one of us succeeds, we all succeed as partners.”
Market evolution has brought significant changes to all aspects of the real estate industry. The national and global industry has become commoditized. At Avison Young, Jamie can build consultative partnerships with major corporations where she can problem solve from beginning to end. She creates occupancy and financial solutions which add value to a company’s bottom line.
She’s rebuilding her client base with a focus on local business. Jamie is finding the tech sector exciting: “They’re creative, agile, interesting and dynamic. I’m interested in helping them build while keeping them in the best financial status, by managing occupancy costs.”
I remark that those qualities sound much like her! She laughs and tells me she recently worked with a tech company where the founder was shocked that she, the broker was advocating for him! His lawyer had to reassure him she was on his side and working in his best interest!
“Would you say advocating for your clients with integrity is a central tenet of yours?”
“Absolutely! You always know the right thing to do. The important thing is doing it.”
Jamie pauses and takes a sip from her coconut milk latte before continuing: “The financial framework together with the recruitment piece is huge. The office should enhance profitability and productivity. Attracting and retaining top-quality employees is vital for young companies. Millennial employees will leave if a company is not in a great location, with a forward-thinking culture and the right ‘feel’ in the office. Great leaders understand this.”
She helps her clients identify the best working environment. Jamie also ensures that they don’t get taken advantage of by unbalanced lease agreements and hidden obligations. When they commit, they’re aware of what they’re committing to.
“I’m intrigued. Can you give examples of issues that might arise when leasing commercial space?”
Jamie glances out of the window and gives me a quick lesson: “Let’s say a company needs x amount of seats. Sometimes they’re looking to build up to a certain level and expect to acquire or be acquired. Should you have a lease tail, there are accounting issues. If you grow and have to move, there will be accelerated cost issues. If you look at due diligence and acquisition, you can’t sublet space for what one might think. Often after factoring free rent and other costs into the deal, a company can only recoup 10-20%. There’s a balance to determine the ratio of excess space leased versus flexible space arrangements. Flexible office space should always be considered as part of the equation.”
Spending this time with Jamie has been eye-opening –like attending a master class in commercial real estate! (After all, she’s been a guest lecturer on real estate at Columbia University.) Her enthusiasm for the industry is infectious and her expertise, advocacy, and integrity are admirable.
I thank Jamie and head back to the hustle and bustle of New York City.