Intro: As Managing Director for Cushman & Wakefield, Jocelyne oversees the Vancouver and Victoria offices. Jocelyne is a seasoned professional and well-respected industry specialist with over 30 years of industry experience working with some of Canada’s most sophisticated institutional landlords and brokerages. In this Membership Spotlight, Jocelyne provides insight into her career and tips and advice she has learnt along the way.
Q: Jocelyne, thank you for being our Member Spotlight! You have been a long-time supporter of CREW, what drew you to join the CREW network and can you share a few things you have gained being apart of/ volunteering with CREW?
As I reflect on my career, I am more and more aware of how important it has been to cultivate relationships. CREW was not known to me early on, so my first exposure to being involved with an industry organization was with another organization. I remember how I felt like the most inexperienced (aka dumbest!) person in the room – but instead of being intimidated, I was graciously received and encouraged. I confess that I wasn’t sure what to think of CREW, initially. Women had been working for decades towards integration and I struggled with the idea of segregating ourselves in the industry. I’ve learned (and am still learning) that integration, or inclusion, is a multi-staged process – not an event – and it requires a supportive and safe platform from which to build and flourish. It makes sense that we start with something we have in common whether that’s gender or other shared experience or view, and build from there. That feeling I had of being received and encouraged by my peers is the foundation I was able to build on and it’s what I see in CREW.
Q: You have had a very successful and distinguished career in Commercial Real Estate, what originally drew you to the commercial real estate sector and what motivates your success and drive?
As with many people in our industry, I fell upon it… and then fell in love with it. It happened to me more than it being conscious intention on my part. My first job was with Dominion Management which was later known as Bentall Property Management and has had many iterations since. In a very short time, I felt quite at home in the world of buildings and the people and businesses they were created for. What drew me in was the notion that buildings and spaces are more than they seem: more than walls and floors, when they are purposefully conceived, designed, built, occupied and ultimately brought to life. And then there’s new opportunity – rejuvenating, re-purposing, re-thinking, re-building… there is something compelling about the whole life-cycle of real estate. Looking back, I think it was that sense of purpose behind the structures themselves, but it was also the incredible energy and the passion that I sensed from the people in the industry that attracted me. Having started out in the services side of the industry, I also loved being a part of the ‘why’ people and companies wanted to be in one building or location over another.
Q: Due to the ongoing COVID crisis, our industry has seen a big shift… especially in the way offices now operate, what changes/ trends are you seeing emerging in the office leasing industry?
Like others, I believe COVID has been a great accelerator of the trends that were already underway more than a catalyst. This is my perception at this moment in time, however, without the benefit of hindsight – we may look back (and I hope we do) decades from now and see how COVID did bring about entirely new ideas but at this moment in time, I think we’re still trying to figure out what exactly we’ve learned through all of this and how to apply those learnings.
Having said that, I do believe the opportunity for office occupiers to right size and re-imagine their workplace has never been greater. There is a window of opportunity to holistically evaluate their office footprint or portfolio, labor strategy and the workplace experience and ensure that real estate truly supports how work is done and will get done.
C&W’s extensive workplace research throughout the pandemic and recovery reveals numerous insights into shifting attitudes and behaviours, most notably:
- We’re seeing a movement to prune a portfolio’s limited-value locations in favor of reinvesting in primary hubs where learning, innovation and collaboration take place. This “fewer, better” rooftop model illustrates the purpose of place in core hubs defined by a large, skilled workforce. And the growing significance of the employee experience while working in the office—reframing it as a place where you want to work—fits with downtown Vancouver’s strength in walkable cultural and entertainment amenities that create the live/ work/play environment of choice.
- Well-located suburbs are also positioned for growth generated by companies looking to reduce real estate expenses and potentially capture shifting populations, particularly young families seeking more space. The pandemic also shifted attitudes toward high-density living, and towards long, congested commutes which has resulted in significant activity in suburban housing markets. This is true also in markets outside of Metro Vancouver, such as Victoria and Vancouver Island, Kelowna and the Okanagan, and Kamloops and the Interior where we are seeing a surge in commercial real estate activity as we come out of the pandemic.
- The future of work is not binary. The purpose of the workplace has evolved as the advantages and drawbacks of remote working come into focus. Flexibility will be key as spaces will serve multiple purposes of focused work, meetings and social events seamlessly.
- Workplace success metrics post-COVID-19 will be defined by overall space effectiveness, team and business performance, and employee engagement. Solutions will need to be supported by human resource policies and technologies that allow organizations to monitor occupancy and use of space, gain insight and respond to changes as needs crystalize and evolve.
The last point is where I think we will see real innovation in the coming months and years that will propel us forward in terms of how and where we work, and the decisions people and companies will make around workplace. I’m excited to see how ideas will be developed and implemented to enhance quality of life and quality of work in the years to come.
Q: If you were asked to give one piece of career advice to someone entering the commercial real estate sector, what would it be and how has this guidance helped your career?
There are two things I often share with people in the early stages of their real estate career: 1. never underestimate your intuition; and 2. the most powerful tool in your toolbelt is the power of your conviction. I think in both cases, it comes down to being passionate and believing in yourself. Surround yourself with people who lift you up and people who smarter than you and you will continue to grow in confidence and in knowledge.
Q: Outside of work, what are your hobbies/passions and what advice do you have for maintaining a good work/life balance to be able to enjoy them?
I love to read, cook and travel. Balancing work and leisure is harder than ever these days as the distinction between workplace and home is nearly non-existent. This is something I think we will all have to work on post-pandemic. I’m working on it right now by trying to create new patterns of behavior that force me to put some separation between work and non-work. A morning walk before I check my emails versus emails before I get out of bed, for example.
Q: Once travel opens up, where will be your first international trip?
Anyone who knows me, knows that I love France. So France is definitely on the list, but I have yet to explore much of Europe and can’t wait for the opportunity to do that.