Wednesday, December 27, 2017

A Giant in the Commercial Real Estate Industry - a friend who has made a difference! Mark Rose

Mark's bio from the Avison Young website.

Mark E. Rose is Chief Executive Officer of Avison Young and Chair of the Board of Directors of Avison Young (Canada) Inc. He manages all strategic, financial and operational activities of this full-service commercial real estate company, which provides solutions to real estate investors, owners and occupiers throughout the world. In his nine years with the Toronto, Canada-based firm, Mark has overseen its growth from 290 real estate professionals in 11 offices in Canada to more than 2,600 professionals in 82 offices in Canada, the U.S, Mexico and Europe.

Mark joined Avison Young after holding executive positions at two global publicly traded commercial real estate firms. He served as Chief Executive Officer of Grubb & Ellis Company from 2005-2007 and was previously Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer of the Americas for Jones Lang LaSalle. Prior to his 12 years at Jones Lang LaSalle, he ran Metropolitan Realty Advisors, the brokerage and investment firm that he founded in 1993. Previously, he was Chief Executive and Chief Financial Officer of the U.S. Real Estate Investment Trust of British Coal Corporation Pension Funds.

Mark and I met during the early heyday of commercial real estate “Internet” days. He was Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer of the Americas for Jones Lang LaSalle. JLL was part of a consortium of companies that had invested in finding “the one thing” that would bring together many, most or all of the technology needs of commercial real estate companies. One day, I’m sitting in Mark’s office in Chicago, and we’re talking about that consortium, Octane. He says to me, “Turn around.” Behind me is a large white board with all kinds of stuff – some circled, some connected by dots. “That’s the whole thing right there!” It’s been great to watch Mark’s career evolve. Within a few years, he had become CEO of Grubb & Ellis during a challenging time in the firm’s history. He turned that company around – when a lot of folks in the industry thought it was a goner. Shortly after leaving G&E, he took the helm of a Canadian-based real estate brokerage company called Avison Young. As CEO, Mark has both grown and geographically expanded that business tremendously. 

Q. How did you get your start in the commercial real estate business?

A. Upon graduating from university, I joined Eisner & Lubin, a New York public accounting firm. The partner and manager, who hired me, had me auditing and preparing tax and financial statements full-time for several of the firm’s real estate clients, including Harry & Leona Helmsley and the related Helmsley entities. Over time, I added more real estate syndication clients and public companies and was motivated to engage further.

A few years later, I joined Pan American Properties Inc., a U.S. real estate investment trust controlled by the British Coal Pension Funds, as Controller. The role led to me becoming the CFO and then, as part of a strategy to liquidate and repatriate the REIT assets back to the pension fund, I became CEO in 1989. Upon the successful liquidation of the Watergate Complex and $1 billion in British Coal assets in 1993, I started my own company called Metropolitan Realty Advisors in Washington, DC. I then merged Metropolitan Realty Advisors into Jones Lang Wooten and became both a Managing Director and head of the Washington, DC region in 1995. As a leader of JLW’s U.S. business in 1997, I was part of the deal team to negotiate and merge JLW with LaSalle Partners to create Jones Lang LaSalle on March 11, 1999.

Q. What advice would you give to a person in the commercial real estate industry for a couple of years or a student looking to his or her start?

A. Two very important pieces of advice: 1) Seek out and learn all aspects of real estate. Having exposure to the property management, leasing and capital markets of all product types makes you a more well-rounded and knowledgeable real estate professional. Then focus on what interests you and gets you excited. The more you love the product and service, the happier and more productive you are; and 2) Keep physical and mental wellness (whole wellness) top of mind. We are operating in trying times and our youth need to be mindful of the toll that stress takes on our bodies and minds.

Q. Looking back on your career, what do you wish you would have done differently?

A. What would I do differently? Hard to answer… I was a 26-year-old CEO of a $1-billion REIT and had the trust, strategy and confidence to liquidate it before the 1990s crash would have wiped out significant gains. With that said, I always wished I had the experience at that time to recommend to British Coal that it should reinvest in the U.S. in 1994.

Q. Who have been biggest influences on your career and why?

A. The answer to this question, for the last 20 years, has been my mentor: James O. Boisi. As Vice-Chair of Morgan Guaranty and Chair of Pan American Properties, Inc., British Coal Pension Fund’s REIT, he taught me to focus on stakeholder returns and making everyone around me better than I believe I could be. He convinced me that listening was more important than talking and that those who have come before us have forgotten more than we know.

Jim played a major role in defining and promoting me at such a young age, but as I look back today, there are others who need recognition. My wife Allyson has been the rock of a 30-year marriage that left her alone with three children as I traveled and built companies. Her confidence in me and encouragement to chase what I love, and believe in, has allowed me to pursue my dreams. Finally, over the last nine years, my partners and family at Avison Young have reinforced my belief in culture and working with partners who believe in doing what’s right first and what’s profitable second.

Mark Rose



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