Intro: As a Senior Associate at Marcus & Millichap primarily working on new project leasing and the repositioning of existing retail assets, Layla is highly experienced in project planning from the initial stages of tenant mix planning all the way through the lease-up of the project. In addition, Layla is actively involved in underwriting and executing marketing strategies for investment and land sales, with a recent focus on retail strata sales. She is known for her tactful negotiation skills and most importantly, her unwavering commitment to her clients.
Q: Layla, thank you for being our Member Spotlight! How did you learn about CREW and what made you decide to ultimately become a member of this organization?
I learned about CREW through a colleague when I first entered the industry. Coming into the industry on the brokerage side, I learned very quickly that networking was not only valuable, but a necessary component in a client-facing and sales role. I attended a few events and met many great individuals which is what lead me to not only keep attending but ultimately become a member.
Q: You are well experienced in both leasing and selling commercial property, in particular retail assets. What initially drew you towards the brokerage sector and then later specializing in retail assets?
Honestly, when I entered the industry, I had no idea what I was getting myself into! I graduated UBC as a "mature" student with a Science degree, worked for the Parks Board for a few years, and was introduced to real estate when I went to BCIT part time. As soon as I got an inkling of excitement about the prospect of joining the commercial real estate industry, I started inviting anyone who would give me the time of day for coffee and picked their brain in order learn more. Through that experience, someone - who I highly respect - told me, I had the “personality for brokerage,” (I assume he meant loud and outspoken). With that, I confidently reached out to a friend who was working at Avison Young at the time, and as luck would have it, they were hiring. I submitted my resume, I interviewed, and…. I didn’t get the job. A few weeks later, another team they thought I’d be a better fit for called me, and… I got the job! So, the short answer would’ve been, I really fell into brokerage. While I was at Avison Young, I worked on the industrial team but continued to learn as much about brokerage in its entirety as I could and through that, I came to learn that I had an understanding and a passion for retail assets that I never had with industrial. It was a natural draw that I had to follow.
Q: If you were asked to give one piece of advice to someone entering commercial real estate, what would it be and how has this guidance helped you in your own career?
Put yourself out there. I think there is a tendency when you are new and inexperienced to avoid inviting the more senior players in the industry to coffee or picking up the phone to call them. The idea that you are too inexperienced to offer them anything of use often prevents people from putting themselves out there. Some of my best learning moments have come from these uncomfortable interactions, where instead of claiming to know everything, I admit I know nothing, ask questions, listen more than I speak, and demonstrate a desire to learn. I walk away from those moments (yes, I still have them) with new knowledge of a company’s structure, their current requirements, a better understanding of their assets/business, and most importantly put my name/voice/face out there.
Q: Due to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, many of us are working from home and adjusting to a “new normal”, can you share what a typical work day looks like for you now?
Consistency in schedule has been key for me. I am an early riser, so I start my day…well, early! I get a home workout in, walk the dogs, and am at my desk, coffee in hand by 7:30 am. I power through until about noon at which point, weather permitting, I’ll eat lunch outside and go for another walk. Then back at it until the to-do list is complete. With that said, it’s important to be kind to yourself; some days you may need a little movement or change of scenery at a random point in the middle of the day to reset. If this creates more productivity afterward, I say go for it – do what you need to, these are strange times!
Q: What has been your biggest takeaway from COVID-19 (can be professional, personal or both!)?
The health and well-being of myself and my family comes first. Sad that it took a global pandemic to teach me this, but it offered me perspective I didn’t quite grasp until now. I think I’ve always operated under the principal that I need to burn myself out in order to feel productive and successful in work (I think our industry fuels this idea). What I’ve learned is the better I care for myself and prioritize my family, the more drive and productivity I actually have when I sit in front of my computer and phone. I have more energy and clarity when it comes to work. I guess my main personal takeaway goes hand-in-hand with my professional takeaway - prioritizing self (and familial) care equates to more significant gains professionally. Win win!
Q: As a member of the CREW organization, what is your favorite event or biggest benefit?
My favourite events are the Lunch & Learns. I enjoy the opportunity to network prior to the event starting and the panelists or speakers CREW obtains for these events are of a high caliber so I generally walk away having learned something new! You also can’t talk about CREW events without including the Golf Tournament. For the last couple years, I’ve invited clients out to this event and it does not disappoint – it’s always a great day!