Intro: Larissa Jacobson is the Vice President of Retail Leasing at QuadReal Property Group and oversees an exciting retail portfolio of over 2.8 million square feet in Western Canada which consists of enclosed shopping centres, open centres and developments under construction and in the planning process. Of particular note, Larissa is the leasing lead for The Post, the largest heritage revitalization project in Canada! Over the course of 18 years Larissa has represented an array of Tenants and Landlords from the broker side and for the last 13 years now as a Landlord representative. Larissa’s relationship building and negotiating style have made her a well respected leader in the retail real estate industry. Larissa has completed an Executive MBA at the Richard Ivey School of Business at Western University and is a Past President of CREW Vancouver.
Q: Larissa, thank you for being our Member Spotlight! You are a Past President of CREW Vancouver and a long-standing member, what initially inspired you to join this organization, later become the President and to continue to stay involved?
Thank you for including me in your member spotlight series! I joined the organization in 2008, after Willa Jamieson from Morguard suggested it would be a great way to grow and network in the industry. I joined Willa’s committee on membership, and from there continued to become a board member transitioning through memberships, then events and on to President. I continue to stay involved because of the caliber of members CREW attracts, some that have become lifelong friends, and that without I may never have taken the next step to go on to obtain my MBA.
Q: As the leasing lead for complex projects such as the revitalization of The Post, a historical landmark in Vancouver, what are some of your favourite aspects of your job and what is your unique approach to overcoming the inevitable challenges that arise from a development of this scale?
I have to say I love everything about The Post redevelopment! I have many favorite aspects of my job, but first is always the people I am able to work with on a daily basis, we really have such a great team. I also really enjoy how each asset is so unique and that we are able to include a narrative that is special to each project. This helps lead the language used for each element of the marketing for our projects. I enjoy working with our team on the merchandising strategies for each asset and then seeing these strategies come to life. One thing that is always common on larger projects, and especially something like The Post, is that the space is so very unique and as with any development project you have to be ready, willing and able to adapt to changes through construction. We have such a great team of people to work with on our development team that working through any changes that arise are easy to go through and discuss with our tenants.
Q: What originally drew you to the retail leasing sector and what advise do you have for professionals trying to work their way up?
Like the majority of people in retail real estate, I really stumbled into it. I was introduced through a friend for a position at CBRE, and the first role I interviewed for I didn’t get, and they called me back six months later. So, I would say my advice is to never give up. Always work hard, put in the time to learn, and network and have fun while you are doing that.
Q: Were there any big moments that monumentally shifted the trajectory of your career and what helped you not only recognize but capitalize on this insight?
The moment I always remember was when I was working as a marketing assistant at CBRE in 2002, and the managing director came to my cubicle at 7 or 8pm (yes I was still working away) and said, why are you working this hard for other people? We will pay for you to get licensed and support you to start doing your own deals. That was all I needed to hear, I was in. Since then, through the other two companies I have been a part of, I knew if I wanted to work my way up I had to step back and see a bigger picture and learn so much more. Being put on larger projects such as The Post have really helped me grow and strengthen my knowledge. I really think its important to step back and see the big picture, be ready, willing and able to change, and thoughtfully accept the feedback you are given.
Q: After a busy day or week of work, what helps you unwind and relax and have you picked up any new hobbies or interests during this last unprecedented year?
I have always been a big fan of spin class, so I have for the moment replaced Soul Cycle with Peloton. I also love going for walks on the seawall, and cooking any new French recipe I can find.
Q: What CREW Event are you most looking forward to attending when we can all meet again in person?
I think its likely time for convention in San Diego or Miami??